run ssh server on ubuntu

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Mastering SSH Server Setup on Ubuntu: A Comprehensive Guide

run ssh server on ubuntu

Welcome to the definitive guide on setting up an SSH server on your Ubuntu machine. Secure Shell (SSH) is a cryptographic network protocol used for secure connection between a client and a server, enabling you to manage servers remotely with confidence. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the intricacies of installing, configuring, and securing an SSH server on Ubuntu, ensuring that you have all the knowledge at your fingertips to perform these tasks with ease.

Understanding SSH and Its Importance

Before we embark on the technical journey, let’s understand what SSH is and why it’s crucial in today’s digital landscape. SSH provides a secure channel over an unsecured network, encrypting the data transmitted, which protects against eavesdropping, connection hijacking, and other malicious activities.

Prerequisites for Running an SSH Server

To get started, ensure you have the following:

  • An Ubuntu server or desktop version 16.04 LTS or later
  • A user account with sudo privileges
  • Access to a terminal/command line
  • An updated system (sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade)

Step-by-Step Installation of OpenSSH Server

OpenSSH is the most popular tool for running an SSH server on Ubuntu. Here’s how to install it:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install openssh-server

Once installed, the SSH service should start automatically. To check its status, use:

sudo systemctl status ssh

Configuring the SSH Server

Configuration of your SSH server is done through the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file. It’s advisable to back up the original configuration before making changes:

sudo cp /etc/ssh/sshd_config /etc/ssh/sshd_config.original

Edit the configuration file using your preferred text editor:

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Here are some common configurations:

  • Changing the default port (Port 22)
  • Disabling root login (PermitRootLogin no)
  • Allowing only specific users (AllowUsers username)

After making changes, restart the SSH service to apply them:

sudo systemctl restart ssh

Securing Your SSH Server

Security is paramount when running an SSH server. Here are several ways to enhance security:

Using Key-Based Authentication

Passwords can be vulnerable to brute-force attacks. Key-based authentication is more secure and straightforward once set up. Generate a new key pair with:

ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096

Then, copy the public key to your server:

ssh-copy-id username@your_server_ip

Disable password authentication by editing the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file:

PasswordAuthentication no

Implementing Fail2Ban

Fail2Ban is a tool that helps protect your server from brute-force attacks. Install it with:

sudo apt install fail2ban

Configure Fail2Ban by copying the default configuration file and then editing it:

sudo cp /etc/fail2ban/jail.conf /etc/fail2ban/jail.local
sudo nano /etc/fail2ban/jail.local

Enable and start the Fail2Ban service:

sudo systemctl enable fail2ban
sudo systemctl start fail2ban

Monitoring SSH Access and Activity

Keeping track of who accesses your server is essential. You can monitor SSH logins by checking the auth.log file:

sudo cat /var/log/auth.log | grep sshd

This will display a list of all SSH authentication attempts on your server.

Troubleshooting Common SSH Issues

If you encounter issues connecting to your SSH server, consider the following troubleshooting steps:

  • Ensure the SSH service is running on the server.
  • Check if the firewall allows the SSH port.
  • Verify that your client’s IP is not blocked by Fail2Ban or similar services.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I change the SSH port on my Ubuntu server?

Edit the /etc/ssh/sshd_config file and change the ‘Port’ directive to your desired port number. Remember to allow the new port through your firewall.

Can I run an SSH server on Ubuntu Desktop?

Yes, the process for setting up an SSH server on Ubuntu Desktop is identical to setting up on Ubuntu Server.

What should I do if I’m locked out of my server after changing the SSH configuration?

If you have physical access to the server or console access through a hosting provider, you can log in directly and revert the changes made to the SSH configuration file.


Running an SSH server on Ubuntu is a critical skill for any system administrator or developer working with remote servers. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can install, configure, and secure an SSH server, providing a safe environment for managing your systems remotely. Always remember to keep security at the forefront of your setup to protect your infrastructure from unauthorized access.


Note: This article assumes a basic understanding of Linux command-line interface and networking concepts.

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