SSHD(8) Maintenance Commands and Procedures SSHD(8)


sshd - OpenSSH daemon


sshd [-46DdeGiqTtV] [-C connection_spec] [-c host_certificate_file]
[-E log_file] [-f config_file] [-g login_grace_time]
[-h host_key_file] [-o option] [-p port] [-u len]


sshd (OpenSSH Daemon) is the daemon program for ssh(1). It provides secure
encrypted communications between two untrusted hosts over an insecure

sshd listens for connections from clients. It is normally started at boot
from /etc/rc. It forks a new daemon for each incoming connection. The
forked daemons handle key exchange, encryption, authentication, command
execution, and data exchange.

sshd can be configured using command-line options or a configuration file
(by default sshd_config(5)); command-line options override values specified
in the configuration file. sshd rereads its configuration file when it
receives a hangup signal, SIGHUP, by executing itself with the name and
options it was started with, e.g. /usr/sbin/sshd.

The options are as follows:

-4 Forces sshd to use IPv4 addresses only.

-6 Forces sshd to use IPv6 addresses only.

-C connection_spec
Specify the connection parameters to use for the -T extended test
mode. If provided, any Match directives in the configuration file
that would apply are applied before the configuration is written to
standard output. The connection parameters are supplied as
keyword=value pairs and may be supplied in any order, either with
multiple -C options or as a comma-separated list. The keywords are
"addr", "user", "host", "laddr", "lport", and "rdomain" and
correspond to source address, user, resolved source host name,
local address, local port number and routing domain respectively.

-c host_certificate_file
Specifies a path to a certificate file to identify sshd during key
exchange. The certificate file must match a host key file
specified using the -h option or the HostKey configuration

-D When this option is specified, sshd will not detach and does not
become a daemon. This allows easy monitoring of sshd.

-d Debug mode. The server sends verbose debug output to standard
error, and does not put itself in the background. The server also
will not fork(2) and will only process one connection. This option
is only intended for debugging for the server. Multiple -d options
increase the debugging level. Maximum is 3.

-E log_file
Append debug logs to log_file instead of the system log.

-e Write debug logs to standard error instead of the system log.

-f config_file
Specifies the name of the configuration file. The default is
/etc/ssh/sshd_config. sshd refuses to start if there is no
configuration file.

-G Parse and print configuration file. Check the validity of the
configuration file, output the effective configuration to stdout
and then exit. Optionally, Match rules may be applied by
specifying the connection parameters using one or more -C options.

-g login_grace_time
Gives the grace time for clients to authenticate themselves
(default 120 seconds). If the client fails to authenticate the
user within this many seconds, the server disconnects and exits. A
value of zero indicates no limit.

-h host_key_file
Specifies a file from which a host key is read. This option must
be given if sshd is not run as root (as the normal host key files
are normally not readable by anyone but root). The default is
/var/ssh/ssh_host_ecdsa_key, /var/ssh/ssh_host_ed25519_key and
/var/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key. It is possible to have multiple host
key files for the different host key algorithms.

-i Specifies that sshd is being run from inetd(8).

-o option
Can be used to give options in the format used in the configuration
file. This is useful for specifying options for which there is no
separate command-line flag. For full details of the options, and
their values, see sshd_config(5).

-p port
Specifies the port on which the server listens for connections
(default 22). Multiple port options are permitted. Ports
specified in the configuration file with the Port option are
ignored when a command-line port is specified. Ports specified
using the ListenAddress option override command-line ports.

-q Quiet mode. Nothing is sent to the system log. Normally the
beginning, authentication, and termination of each connection is

-T Extended test mode. Check the validity of the configuration file,
output the effective configuration to stdout and then exit.
Optionally, Match rules may be applied by specifying the connection
parameters using one or more -C options. This is similar to the -G
flag, but it includes the additional testing performed by the -t

-t Test mode. Only check the validity of the configuration file and
sanity of the keys. This is useful for updating sshd reliably as
configuration options may change.

-u len This option is used to specify the size of the field in the utmp
structure that holds the remote host name. If the resolved host
name is longer than len, the dotted decimal value will be used
instead. This allows hosts with very long host names that overflow
this field to still be uniquely identified. Specifying -u0
indicates that only dotted decimal addresses should be put into the
utmp file. -u0 may also be used to prevent sshd from making DNS
requests unless the authentication mechanism or configuration
requires it. Authentication mechanisms that may require DNS
include HostbasedAuthentication and using a from="pattern-list"
option in a key file. Configuration options that require DNS
include using a USER@HOST pattern in AllowUsers or DenyUsers.

-V Display the version number and exit.


The OpenSSH SSH daemon supports SSH protocol 2 only. Each host has a host-
specific key, used to identify the host. Whenever a client connects, the
daemon responds with its public host key. The client compares the host key
against its own database to verify that it has not changed. Forward
secrecy is provided through a Diffie-Hellman key agreement. This key
agreement results in a shared session key. The rest of the session is
encrypted using a symmetric cipher. The client selects the encryption
algorithm to use from those offered by the server. Additionally, session
integrity is provided through a cryptographic message authentication code

Finally, the server and the client enter an authentication dialog. The
client tries to authenticate itself using host-based authentication, public
key authentication, challenge-response authentication, or password

Regardless of the authentication type, the account is checked to ensure
that it is accessible. An account is not accessible if it is locked,
listed in DenyUsers or its group is listed in DenyGroups . The definition
of a locked account is system dependent. Some platforms have their own
account database (eg AIX) and some modify the passwd field ( `*LK*' on
Solaris and UnixWare, `*' on HP-UX, containing `Nologin' on Tru64, a
leading `*LOCKED*' on FreeBSD and a leading `!' on most Linuxes). If there
is a requirement to disable password authentication for the account while
allowing still public-key, then the passwd field should be set to something
other than these values (eg `NP' or `*NP*' ).

If the client successfully authenticates itself, a dialog for preparing the
session is entered. At this time the client may request things like
allocating a pseudo-tty, forwarding X11 connections, forwarding TCP
connections, or forwarding the authentication agent connection over the
secure channel.

After this, the client either requests an interactive shell or execution of
a non-interactive command, which sshd will execute via the user's shell
using its -c option. The sides then enter session mode. In this mode,
either side may send data at any time, and such data is forwarded to/from
the shell or command on the server side, and the user terminal in the
client side.

When the user program terminates and all forwarded X11 and other
connections have been closed, the server sends command exit status to the
client, and both sides exit.


When a user successfully logs in, sshd does the following:

1. If the login is on a tty, and no command has been specified,
prints last login time and /etc/motd (unless prevented in the
configuration file or by ~/.hushlogin; see the FILES section).

2. If the login is on a tty, records login time.

3. Checks /etc/nologin; if it exists, prints contents and quits
(unless root).

4. Changes to run with normal user privileges.

5. Sets up basic environment.

6. Reads the file ~/.ssh/environment, if it exists, and users are
allowed to change their environment. See the
PermitUserEnvironment option in sshd_config(5).

7. Changes to user's home directory.

8. If ~/.ssh/rc exists and the sshd_config(5) PermitUserRC option
is set, runs it; else if /etc/ssh/sshrc exists, runs it;
otherwise runs xauth(1). The "rc" files are given the X11
authentication protocol and cookie in standard input. See
SSHRC, below.

9. Runs user's shell or command. All commands are run under the
user's login shell as specified in the system password database.


If the file ~/.ssh/rc exists, sh(1) runs it after reading the environment
files but before starting the user's shell or command. It must not produce
any output on stdout; stderr must be used instead. If X11 forwarding is in
use, it will receive the "proto cookie" pair in its standard input (and
DISPLAY in its environment). The script must call xauth(1) because sshd
will not run xauth automatically to add X11 cookies.

The primary purpose of this file is to run any initialization routines
which may be needed before the user's home directory becomes accessible;
AFS is a particular example of such an environment.

This file will probably contain some initialization code followed by
something similar to:

if read proto cookie && [ -n "$DISPLAY" ]; then
if [ `echo $DISPLAY | cut -c1-10` = 'localhost:' ]; then
# X11UseLocalhost=yes
echo add unix:`echo $DISPLAY |
cut -c11-` $proto $cookie
# X11UseLocalhost=no
echo add $DISPLAY $proto $cookie
fi | xauth -q -

If this file does not exist, /etc/ssh/sshrc is run, and if that does not
exist either, xauth is used to add the cookie.

AuthorizedKeysFile specifies the files containing public keys for public
key authentication; if this option is not specified, the default is
~/.ssh/authorized_keys and ~/.ssh/authorized_keys2. Each line of the file
contains one key (empty lines and lines starting with a `#' are ignored as
comments). Public keys consist of the following space-separated fields:
options, keytype, base64-encoded key, comment. The options field is
optional. The supported key types are:

The comment field is not used for anything (but may be convenient for the
user to identify the key).

Note that lines in this file can be several hundred bytes long (because of
the size of the public key encoding) up to a limit of 8 kilobytes, which
permits RSA keys up to 16 kilobits. You don't want to type them in;
instead, copy the,,,,, or the file and edit it.

sshd enforces a minimum RSA key modulus size of 1024 bits.

The options (if present) consist of comma-separated option specifications.
No spaces are permitted, except within double quotes. The following option
specifications are supported (note that option keywords are case-

Enable authentication agent forwarding previously disabled by the
restrict option.

Specifies that the listed key is a certification authority (CA)
that is trusted to validate signed certificates for user

Certificates may encode access restrictions similar to these key
options. If both certificate restrictions and key options are
present, the most restrictive union of the two is applied.

Specifies that the command is executed whenever this key is used
for authentication. The command supplied by the user (if any) is
ignored. The command is run on a pty if the client requests a pty;
otherwise it is run without a tty. If an 8-bit clean channel is
required, one must not request a pty or should specify no-pty. A
quote may be included in the command by quoting it with a

This option might be useful to restrict certain public keys to
perform just a specific operation. An example might be a key that
permits remote backups but nothing else. Note that the client may
specify TCP and/or X11 forwarding unless they are explicitly
prohibited, e.g. using the restrict key option.

The command originally supplied by the client is available in the
SSH_ORIGINAL_COMMAND environment variable. Note that this option
applies to shell, command or subsystem execution. Also note that
this command may be superseded by a sshd_config(5) ForceCommand

If a command is specified and a forced-command is embedded in a
certificate used for authentication, then the certificate will be
accepted only if the two commands are identical.

Specifies that the string is to be added to the environment when
logging in using this key. Environment variables set this way
override other default environment values. Multiple options of
this type are permitted. Environment processing is disabled by
default and is controlled via the PermitUserEnvironment option.

Specifies a time after which the key will not be accepted. The
time may be specified as a YYYYMMDD[Z] date or a
YYYYMMDDHHMM[SS][Z] time. Dates and times will be interpreted in
the system time zone unless suffixed by a Z character, in which
case they will be interpreted in the UTC time zone.

Specifies that in addition to public key authentication, either the
canonical name of the remote host or its IP address must be present
in the comma-separated list of patterns. See PATTERNS in
ssh_config(5) for more information on patterns.

In addition to the wildcard matching that may be applied to
hostnames or addresses, a from stanza may match IP addresses using
CIDR address/masklen notation.

The purpose of this option is to optionally increase security:
public key authentication by itself does not trust the network or
name servers or anything (but the key); however, if somebody
somehow steals the key, the key permits an intruder to log in from
anywhere in the world. This additional option makes using a stolen
key more difficult (name servers and/or routers would have to be
compromised in addition to just the key).

Forbids authentication agent forwarding when this key is used for

Forbids TCP forwarding when this key is used for authentication.
Any port forward requests by the client will return an error. This
might be used, e.g. in connection with the command option.

no-pty Prevents tty allocation (a request to allocate a pty will fail).

Disables execution of ~/.ssh/rc.

Forbids X11 forwarding when this key is used for authentication.
Any X11 forward requests by the client will return an error.

Limit remote port forwarding with the ssh(1) -R option such that it
may only listen on the specified host (optional) and port. IPv6
addresses can be specified by enclosing the address in square
brackets. Multiple permitlisten options may be applied separated
by commas. Hostnames may include wildcards as described in the
PATTERNS section in ssh_config(5). A port specification of *
matches any port. Note that the setting of GatewayPorts may
further restrict listen addresses. Note that ssh(1) will send a
hostname of "localhost" if a listen host was not specified when the
forwarding was requested, and that this name is treated differently
to the explicit localhost addresses "" and "::1".

Limit local port forwarding with the ssh(1) -L option such that it
may only connect to the specified host and port. IPv6 addresses
can be specified by enclosing the address in square brackets.
Multiple permitopen options may be applied separated by commas. No
pattern matching or name lookup is performed on the specified
hostnames, they must be literal host names and/or addresses. A
port specification of * matches any port.

Enable port forwarding previously disabled by the restrict option.

On a cert-authority line, specifies allowed principals for
certificate authentication as a comma-separated list. At least one
name from the list must appear in the certificate's list of
principals for the certificate to be accepted. This option is
ignored for keys that are not marked as trusted certificate signers
using the cert-authority option.

pty Permits tty allocation previously disabled by the restrict option.

Do not require demonstration of user presence for signatures made
using this key. This option only makes sense for the FIDO
authenticator algorithms ecdsa-sk and ed25519-sk.

Require that signatures made using this key attest that they
verified the user, e.g. via a PIN. This option only makes sense
for the FIDO authenticator algorithms ecdsa-sk and ed25519-sk.

Enable all restrictions, i.e. disable port, agent and X11
forwarding, as well as disabling PTY allocation and execution of
~/.ssh/rc. If any future restriction capabilities are added to
authorized_keys files, they will be included in this set.

Force a tun(4) device on the server. Without this option, the next
available device will be used if the client requests a tunnel.

Enables execution of ~/.ssh/rc previously disabled by the restrict

Permits X11 forwarding previously disabled by the restrict option.

An example authorized_keys file:

# Comments are allowed at start of line. Blank lines are allowed.
# Plain key, no restrictions
ssh-rsa ...
# Forced command, disable PTY and all forwarding
restrict,command="dump /home" ssh-rsa ...
# Restriction of ssh -L forwarding destinations
permitopen="",permitopen="" ssh-rsa ...
# Restriction of ssh -R forwarding listeners
permitlisten="localhost:8080",permitlisten="[::1]:22000" ssh-rsa ...
# Configuration for tunnel forwarding
tunnel="0",command="sh /etc/netstart tun0" ssh-rsa ...
# Override of restriction to allow PTY allocation
restrict,pty,command="nethack" ssh-rsa ...
# Allow FIDO key without requiring touch
no-touch-required ...
# Require user-verification (e.g. PIN or biometric) for FIDO key
verify-required ...
# Trust CA key, allow touch-less FIDO if requested in certificate
cert-authority,no-touch-required,principals="user_a" ssh-rsa ...

The /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts and ~/.ssh/known_hosts files contain host
public keys for all known hosts. The global file should be prepared by the
administrator (optional), and the per-user file is maintained
automatically: whenever the user connects to an unknown host, its key is
added to the per-user file.

Each line in these files contains the following fields: marker (optional),
hostnames, keytype, base64-encoded key, comment. The fields are separated
by spaces.

The marker is optional, but if it is present then it must be one of
"@cert-authority", to indicate that the line contains a certification
authority (CA) key, or "@revoked", to indicate that the key contained on
the line is revoked and must not ever be accepted. Only one marker should
be used on a key line.

Hostnames is a comma-separated list of patterns (`*' and `?' act as
wildcards); each pattern in turn is matched against the host name. When
sshd is authenticating a client, such as when using
HostbasedAuthentication, this will be the canonical client host name. When
ssh(1) is authenticating a server, this will be the host name given by the
user, the value of the ssh(1) HostkeyAlias if it was specified, or the
canonical server hostname if the ssh(1) CanonicalizeHostname option was

A pattern may also be preceded by `!' to indicate negation: if the host
name matches a negated pattern, it is not accepted (by that line) even if
it matched another pattern on the line. A hostname or address may
optionally be enclosed within `[' and `]' brackets then followed by `:' and
a non-standard port number.

Alternately, hostnames may be stored in a hashed form which hides host
names and addresses should the file's contents be disclosed. Hashed
hostnames start with a `|' character. Only one hashed hostname may appear
on a single line and none of the above negation or wildcard operators may
be applied.

The keytype and base64-encoded key are taken directly from the host key;
they can be obtained, for example, from /var/ssh/ The
optional comment field continues to the end of the line, and is not used.

Lines starting with `#' and empty lines are ignored as comments.

When performing host authentication, authentication is accepted if any
matching line has the proper key; either one that matches exactly or, if
the server has presented a certificate for authentication, the key of the
certification authority that signed the certificate. For a key to be
trusted as a certification authority, it must use the "@cert-authority"
marker described above.

The known hosts file also provides a facility to mark keys as revoked, for
example when it is known that the associated private key has been stolen.
Revoked keys are specified by including the "@revoked" marker at the
beginning of the key line, and are never accepted for authentication or as
certification authorities, but instead will produce a warning from ssh(1)
when they are encountered.

It is permissible (but not recommended) to have several lines or different
host keys for the same names. This will inevitably happen when short forms
of host names from different domains are put in the file. It is possible
that the files contain conflicting information; authentication is accepted
if valid information can be found from either file.

Note that the lines in these files are typically hundreds of characters
long, and you definitely don't want to type in the host keys by hand.
Rather, generate them by a script, ssh-keyscan(1) or by taking, for
example, /var/ssh/ and adding the host names at the
front. ssh-keygen(1) also offers some basic automated editing for
~/.ssh/known_hosts including removing hosts matching a host name and
converting all host names to their hashed representations.

An example ssh_known_hosts file:

# Comments allowed at start of line, ssh-rsa AAAA1234.....=
# A hashed hostname
|1|JfKTdBh7rNbXkVAQCRp4OQoPfmI=|USECr3SWf1JUPsms5AqfD5QfxkM= ssh-rsa
# A revoked key
@revoked * ssh-rsa AAAAB5W...
# A CA key, accepted for any host in * or *
@cert-authority *,* ssh-rsa AAAAB5W...


This file is used to suppress printing the last login time and
/etc/motd, if PrintLastLog and PrintMotd, respectively, are
enabled. It does not suppress printing of the banner specified by

This file is used for host-based authentication (see ssh(1) for
more information). On some machines this file may need to be
world-readable if the user's home directory is on an NFS partition,
because sshd reads it as root. Additionally, this file must be
owned by the user, and must not have write permissions for anyone
else. The recommended permission for most machines is read/write
for the user, and not accessible by others.

This file is used in exactly the same way as .rhosts, but allows
host-based authentication without permitting login with rlogin/rsh.

This directory is the default location for all user-specific
configuration and authentication information. There is no general
requirement to keep the entire contents of this directory secret,
but the recommended permissions are read/write/execute for the
user, and not accessible by others.

Lists the public keys (DSA, ECDSA, Ed25519, RSA) that can be used
for logging in as this user. The format of this file is described
above. The content of the file is not highly sensitive, but the
recommended permissions are read/write for the user, and not
accessible by others.

If this file, the ~/.ssh directory, or the user's home directory
are writable by other users, then the file could be modified or
replaced by unauthorized users. In this case, sshd will not allow
it to be used unless the StrictModes option has been set to "no".

This file is read into the environment at login (if it exists). It
can only contain empty lines, comment lines (that start with `#'),
and assignment lines of the form name=value. The file should be
writable only by the user; it need not be readable by anyone else.
Environment processing is disabled by default and is controlled via
the PermitUserEnvironment option.

Contains a list of host keys for all hosts the user has logged into
that are not already in the systemwide list of known host keys.
The format of this file is described above. This file should be
writable only by root/the owner and can, but need not be, world-

Contains initialization routines to be run before the user's home
directory becomes accessible. This file should be writable only by
the user, and need not be readable by anyone else.

Access controls that should be enforced by tcp-wrappers are defined
here. Further details are described in hosts_access(5).

This file is for host-based authentication (see ssh(1)). It should
only be writable by root.

Contains Diffie-Hellman groups used for the "Diffie-Hellman Group
Exchange" key exchange method. The file format is described in
moduli(5). If no usable groups are found in this file then fixed
internal groups will be used.

See motd(5).

If this file exists, sshd refuses to let anyone except root log in.
The contents of the file are displayed to anyone trying to log in,
and non-root connections are refused. The file should be world-

This file is used in exactly the same way as hosts.equiv, but
allows host-based authentication without permitting login with

These files contain the private parts of the host keys. These
files should only be owned by root, readable only by root, and not
accessible to others. Note that sshd does not start if these files
are group/world-accessible.

These files contain the public parts of the host keys. These files
should be world-readable but writable only by root. Their contents
should match the respective private parts. These files are not
really used for anything; they are provided for the convenience of
the user so their contents can be copied to known hosts files.
These files are created using ssh-keygen(1).

Systemwide list of known host keys. This file should be prepared
by the system administrator to contain the public host keys of all
machines in the organization. The format of this file is described
above. This file should be writable only by root/the owner and
should be world-readable.

Contains configuration data for sshd. The file format and
configuration options are described in sshd_config(5).

Similar to ~/.ssh/rc, it can be used to specify machine-specific
login-time initializations globally. This file should be writable
only by root, and should be world-readable.

chroot(2) directory used by sshd during privilege separation in the
pre-authentication phase. The directory should not contain any
files and must be owned by root and not group or world-writable.

Contains the process ID of the sshd listening for connections (if
there are several daemons running concurrently for different ports,
this contains the process ID of the one started last). The content
of this file is not sensitive; it can be world-readable.


sshd uses pam(3PAM) for password and keyboard-interactive methods as well
as for account management, session management, and the password management
for all authentication methods.

Each SSHv2 userauth type has its own PAM service name:

| SSHv2 Userauth | PAM Service Name |
| none | sshd-none |
| password | sshd-password |
| keyboard-interactive | sshd-kbdint |
| pubkey | sshd-pubkey |
| hostbased | sshd-hostbased |
| gssapi-with-mic | sshd-gssapi |


scp(1), sftp(1), ssh(1), ssh-add(1), ssh-agent(1), ssh-keygen(1),
ssh-keyscan(1), chroot(2), hosts_access(5), login.conf(5), moduli(5),
sshd_config(5), inetd(8), sftp-server(8)


OpenSSH is a derivative of the original and free ssh 1.2.12 release by Tatu
Ylonen. Aaron Campbell, Bob Beck, Markus Friedl, Niels Provos, Theo de
Raadt and Dug Song removed many bugs, re-added newer features and created
OpenSSH. Markus Friedl contributed the support for SSH protocol versions
1.5 and 2.0. Niels Provos and Markus Friedl contributed support for
privilege separation.

illumos September 19, 2023 illumos