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Generating SSH keys

Generating SSH keys (Linux)

This guide will step you through the process of generating a keypair on linux and uploading it to GitHub. We use Ubuntu and bash in this guide, command may vary depending on your linux flavor and shell.
Generating an SSH key on linux is a fairly straightforward process. First and foremost, open up a terminal.

Backup and remove existing keys

If you have an existing keypair you wish to use, you can skip this step.
Unless this is your first time setting up ssh or git on your computer, you should double check that keys do not already exist. If they do you can either use the existing key(s) or remove them. In either case, you should make a backup of the keys.
First check to see if a ssh key directory exists.
$ cd ~/.ssh
If you get a “No such file or directory” error, you can skip to “Generating a key”.
$ ls
id_rsa known_hosts
$ mkdir key_backup
$ cp id_rsa* key_backup
$ rm id_rsa*
Here we have an existing keypair, id_rsa and, which we’ve copied into ~/.ssh/key_backup before removing. By default, ssh will use keys in ~/.ssh that are named id_rsa, id_dsa or identity.

Generating a key

If you have an existing keypair you wish to use, you can skip this step.
Now that we’re certain ssh won’t use an existing key, it’s time to generate a new keypair. Lets make an RSA keypair:
$ ssh-keygen -t rsa -C ""
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/tekkub/.ssh/id_rsa):
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in /home/tekkub/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/tekkub/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
At the first prompt you can just hit enter to generate the key with the default name. You should use a good passphrase with your key. See Working with SSH key passphrases for more details on why you should use a passphrase and how to avoid re-entering it every time you use your key.
Note: If you don’t use the default key names, or store your keys in a different path, you may need to run ssh-add path/to/my_key so that ssh knows where to find your key.

Adding the key to your GitHub account

Now launch your browser and open the account page. In the “SSH Public Keys” section click “add another public key”, then paste your public key into the “key” field. If you leave the title blank the key comment (your email) will be used for the title.
Make sure you use the public key ( in our example), and do not add any newlines or whitespace inside the key. To ensure you copy the key correctly, you can copy the key directly into the clipboard from the terminal using xclip:
$ sudo apt-get install xclip
$ cat ~/.ssh/ | xclip -sel clip

Testing things out

Testing if our new key works is simple, we just ssh to github. If this is the first time you’re connecting you’ll have to save the server’s key. You can confirm the fingerprint on the SSH keys tab of the account settings page
$ ssh
The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
RSA key fingerprint is 16:27:ac:a5:76:28:2d:36:63:1b:56:4d:eb:df:a6:48.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)? yes
Warning: Permanently added ',' (RSA) to the list of known hosts.
ERROR: Hi tekkub! You've successfully authenticated, but GitHub does not provide shell access
Connection to closed.
If you do not get the “successfully authenticated” message, check out the troubleshooting guide.