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Home > Guides > Dashboard Users Guide > Clouds > Generic > SSH Keys > Concepts > About SSH Keys

About SSH Keys

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Overview

SSH Keys (secure shell) enable you to SSH directly into a machine.  (For older RightImages (e.g. v4) they were also used to execute RightScripts on the running instance.) The SSH key is passed directly into an instance in order to provide root login access to the machine via SSH.  Once an instance is launched, you can typically find it inserted into the /root/.ssh/authorized_keys file.

SSH Keys that are generated inside the Dashboard or from the RightScale API will have key material, whereas SSH Keys generated outside of RightScale will not have any key material.  (The Key Material is basically the encrypted portion of the private key.)  However, you can manually add the key material for one of your SSH keys inside the Dashboard.  (Note:  Not all cloud software supports SSH key generation.  See the next section for more information.)  The Dashboard will always display all SSH Keys associated with an account, regardless of whether or not they have key material.  You can still launch an instance inside the Dashboard using an SSH key that does not have any key material, but you will not be able to SSH into the instance or use any of RightScale's convenient features such as bundling, backups, automation, etc.  Without knowing the contents of the SSH Keys, RightScale will not be able to access your instance to perform such tasks. 

NOTE: When you launch an instance, be sure to select an SSH Key that contains key material.   (Key material = yes)

screen-SSHkeys-v1.png

 

Select an SSH Key to view/edit the actual key code. 

Important!  The private key code can only be seen by the user who created the SSH key or the administrator.

screen-SSHkeysMaterial-v1.png

Note:  The example above shows the private key material from  an SSH key generated for use on instances in a private cloud, but the information is identical for other clouds.

Cloud Support for SSH Keys

Some Cloud software may not support the generation of SSH Keys directly, in which case from within the RightScale Dashboard you will not see an entry for SSH Keys. That is, you cannot navigate to Clouds > CloudName > SSH Keys... it is not an option.  This is not to say your cloud infrastructure cannot make use of SSH keys to access running instances, etc.  A good example of this is Cloud.com.  You cannot navigate, create and maintain SSH Keys from inside the Dashboard at this time (through at least CloudStack 2.2). The first time you log into the Dashboard, we create an SSH key pair for you. It's saved in our database, and we send it to every Server booted within your account (or accounts). When you click SSH icon or button for the Server, we give you the private key so you can gain SSH access to the Server.

As a best practice, we suggest that users generate their own keys and give us just the public key, keeping their private key private (known only to them). This can be accomplished at any time and all of the instances will be updated in real time.
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Last modified
13:21, 7 Aug 2014

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