Create a ssh key

Access to the INCD computing clusters is performed via SSH and requires the use of SSH keys for authentication. Authentication with passwords is not supported. Each SSH key pair has two components a public key that must be added to the hosts to be remotely accessed, and a private key that must remain in the user workstation or laptop machine. The private key must be protected with a strong password. The users must generate their own SSH key pair in a machine of their own (workstation, laptop, etc). To generate your SSH key pair follow these instructions.

Linux and macOS

  • Users must generate the SSH key pair in a computer of their own (desktop, notebook etc).
  • The passphrase is used to protect the private key, very IMPORTANT please choose a strong password with uppercase and lowercase characters, numbers and symbols.
$ ssh-keygen -b 4096 -t rsa
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/username/.ssh/id_rsa): 
Created directory '/home/username/.ssh'.
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):           ----> IMPORTANT: Choose a strong password 
Enter same passphrase again:                          ----> IMPORTANT: Choose a strong password
Your identification has been saved in /home/username/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/username/.ssh/
  • ssh-keygen will create a pair of keys, private (id_rsa) and public (, these files are created in the user home directory usually under $HOME/.ssh
  • The file and directory protections of $HOME/.ssh should be as follows:
ls -la $HOME/.ssh/
total 8
drwx------ 3 username group 4096 Jan 11 18:12 .
-rw------- 1 username group 1743 Feb 19 10:52 id_rsa
-rw-r--r-- 1 username group  404 Feb 19 10:52
  • Correct File permissions using chmod
chmod 700 .ssh 
chmod 644 
chmod 600 id_rsa

  • Users must send to the INCD administrators only the public key
  • The private key must must be kept private and must NEVER be shared with other persons.

Microsoft Windows

  • For Windows users accessing the INCD public machines we recommend the use of terminal emulators like MobaXterm.
    • MobaXterm works both as a terminal and X windows server, this allows to display in your desktop the graphical X11 windows from the remote Linux host.
    • MobaXterm supports file transfer via the embbed SFTP browser.
    • MobaXterm documentation is available here
    • Key pairs can be generated with ssh-keygen -b 4096 -t rsa
    • You can also create and manage your SSH keys using the embedded MobaKeyGen application (available from the "Tools" menu).

  • Windows users can also generate ssh-keys using Putty
    • Download and install Putty
    • Generate the key in your Windows machine see these examples:
    • IMPORTANT: notice that Putty is only a text terminal and does not work as X windows graphics server and does not support file transfer.

  • Users must send to the INCD administrators only the public key
  • The private key must must be kept private and must NEVER be shared with other persons.

Login does not work

  • If the INCD helpdesk confirms that your public key has been installed and still you cannot login please check the following:
    1. That you are trying to access the correct INCD login hostname as indicated by the INCD helpdesk.
    2. That you are trying to access the INCD host from the same machine and user account where you generated the SSH key pair.
    3. That the permissions and ownership of your SSH directory and contained files are correct. The relevant Linux directory and files are below, see if they match the protections described in the Linux section above:
      • $HOME/.ssh
      • $HOME/.ssh/id_rsa
      • $HOME/.ssh/
    4. That the SSH private key password is correct. In Linux you can do this by trying to load the private key into the SSH agent with the command: ssh-add
    5. That the INCD login host is reachable from your machine. From Linux you can use the command nmap -P0 -p22 hostname the returned port STATE for the SERVICE ssh (PORT 22/TCP) must be "open". If the hostname does not resolve or the STATE is different from "open" (e.g. filtered) you may have a network connectivity problem.
    6. If you are on Windows consider to install a Linux virtual machine and perform the SSH access from that Linux VM. Notice that in this case you need to place the keypair (id_rsa and in the Linux virtual machine or generate a new key pair in Linux and send it to the INCD administrators. To install Linux on windows you can use:
  • If you still can't login please contact the INCD helpdesk and provide details on the error and verification steps that you already performed.