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SSH-AGENT(1) OpenBSD Reference Manual SSH-AGENT(1)
ssh-agent - authentication agent
ssh-agent is a program to hold authentication private keys. The idea is
that ssh-agent is started in the beginning of an X-session or a login
session, and all other windows or programs are started as children of the
ssh-agent program (the command normally starts X or is the user shell).
Programs started under the agent inherit a connection to the agent, and
the agent is automatically used for RSA authentication when logging to
other machines using ssh(1).
The agent initially does not have any private keys. Keys are added using
ssh-add(1). When executed without arguments, ssh-add(1) adds the
$HOME/.ssh/identity file. If the identity has a passphrase, ssh-add(1)
asks for the passphrase (using a small X11 application if running under
X11, or from the terminal if running without X). It then sends the iden-
tity to the agent. Several identities can be stored in the agent; the
agent can automatically use any of these identities. ssh-add -l displays
the identities currently held by the agent.
The idea is that the agent is run in the user's local PC, laptop, or ter-
minal. Authentication data need not be stored on any other machine, and
authentication passphrases never go over the network. However, the con-
nection to the agent is forwarded over SSH remote logins, and the user
can thus use the privileges given by the identities anywhere in the net-
work in a secure way.
A connection to the agent is inherited by child programs: A unix-domain
socket is created (/tmp/ssh-XXXX/agent.<pid>), and the name of this sock-
et is stored in the SSH_AUTH_SOCK environment variable. The socket is
made accessible only to the current user. This method is easily abused
by root or another instance of the same user.
The agent exits automatically when the command given on the command line
Contains the RSA authentication identity of the user. This file
should not be readable by anyone but the user. It is possible to
specify a passphrase when generating the key; that passphrase
will be used to encrypt the private part of this file. This file
is not used by ssh-agent but is normally added to the agent using
ssh-add(1) at login time.
Unix-domain sockets used to contain the connection to the authen-
tication agent. These sockets should only be readable by the
owner. The sockets should get automatically removed when the
Tatu Ylonen <email@example.com>
OpenSSH is a derivative of the original (free) ssh 1.2.12 release, but
with bugs removed and newer features re-added. Rapidly after the 1.2.12
release, newer versions bore successively more restrictive licenses.
This version of OpenSSH
- has all components of a restrictive nature (ie. patents, see ssl(8))
directly removed from the source code; any licensed or patented com-
ponents are chosen from external libraries.
- has been updated to support ssh protocol 1.5.
- contains added support for kerberos(8) authentication and ticket
- supports one-time password authentication with skey(1).
The libraries described in ssl(8) are required for proper operation.
ssh(1), ssh-add(1), ssh-keygen(1), sshd(8), ssl(8)
OpenBSD 2.6 September 25, 1999 2
Source: OpenBSD 2.6 man pages. Copyright: Portions are copyrighted by BERKELEY
SOFTWARE DESIGN, INC., The Regents of the University of California, Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, Free Software Foundation, FreeBSD Inc., and others.
(Corrections, notes, and links courtesy of RocketAware.com)
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