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18.4. OpenSSH Configuration Files

OpenSSH has two different sets of configuration files: one for client programs (ssh, scp, and sftp) and one for the server daemon (sshd).

System-wide SSH configuration information is stored in the /etc/ssh/ directory:

  • moduli — Contains Diffie-Hellman groups used for the Diffie-Hellman key exchange which is critical for constructing a secure transport layer. When keys are exchanged at the beginning of an SSH session, a shared, secret value is created which cannot be determined by either party alone. This value is then used to provide host authentication.

  • ssh_config — The system-wide default SSH client configuration file. It is overridden if one is also present in the user's home directory (~/.ssh/config).

  • sshd_config — The configuration file for the sshd daemon.

  • ssh_host_dsa_key — The DSA private key used by the sshd daemon.

  • ssh_host_dsa_key.pub — The DSA public key used by the sshd daemon.

  • ssh_host_key — The RSA private key used by the sshd daemon for version 1 of the SSH protocol.

  • ssh_host_key.pub — The RSA public key used by the sshd daemon for version 1 of the SSH protocol.

  • ssh_host_rsa_key — The RSA private key used by the sshd daemon for version 2 of the SSH protocol.

  • ssh_host_rsa_key.pub — The RSA public key used by the sshd for version 2 of the SSH protocol.

User-specific SSH configuration information is stored in the user's home directory within the ~/.ssh/ directory:

  • authorized_keys — This file holds a list of authorized public keys for servers. When the client connects to a server, the server authenticates the client by checking its signed public key stored within this file.

  • id_dsa — Contains the DSA private key of the user.

  • id_dsa.pub — The DSA public key of the user.

  • id_rsa — The RSA private key used by ssh for version 2 of the SSH protocol.

  • id_rsa.pub — The RSA public key used by ssh for version 2 of the SSH protocol

  • identity — The RSA private key used by ssh for version 1 of the SSH protocol.

  • identity.pub — The RSA public key used by ssh for version 1 of the SSH protocol.

  • known_hosts — This file contains DSA host keys of SSH servers accessed by the user. This file is very important for ensuring that the SSH client is connecting the correct SSH server.

    ImportantImportant
     

    If a SSH server's host key has changed, the client will notify the user that the connection cannot proceed until the server's host key is deleted from the known_hosts file using a text editor. Before doing this, however, contact the system administrator of the SSH server to verify the server is not compromised.

See the man pages for ssh and sshd for information concerning the various directives available in the SSH configuration files.

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