ubuntu 20.04 ssh server

admin3 April 2024Last Update :

Mastering the Ubuntu 20.04 SSH Server: A Comprehensive Guide

ubuntu 20.04 ssh server

Welcome to an in-depth exploration of setting up and managing an SSH server on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS (Focal Fossa). Secure Shell (SSH) is a protocol that provides a secure channel over an unsecured network, enabling users to connect to a remote machine securely. This guide will walk you through the intricacies of installing, configuring, and securing an SSH server on one of the most popular Linux distributions. Whether you’re a system administrator, developer, or IT enthusiast, this article aims to equip you with the knowledge to efficiently manage your SSH server.

Understanding SSH and Its Importance

Before diving into the technicalities, it’s crucial to understand what SSH is and why it’s a cornerstone of secure remote administration. SSH allows encrypted communication between a client and a host, safeguarding against eavesdropping, connection hijacking, and other malicious activities. It’s widely used for a variety of tasks such as command-line login, remote command execution, and even forwarding local ports over the network.

Installing the SSH Server on Ubuntu 20.04

Ubuntu 20.04 LTS comes with OpenSSH, an open-source implementation of the SSH protocol, which includes both the client and server components. To install the SSH server package, follow these steps:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install openssh-server

Once installed, the SSH service should start automatically. You can verify its status with:

sudo systemctl status ssh

Configuring the Firewall

If you have UFW (Uncomplicated Firewall) enabled, you’ll need to allow SSH connections:

sudo ufw allow ssh

This command configures UFW to allow incoming traffic on port 22, the default SSH port.

Securing Your SSH Server

Security is paramount when it comes to remote access. Here are some best practices to enhance the security of your SSH server:

  • Password Authentication vs. Key-Based Authentication: While password authentication is enabled by default, key-based authentication is more secure and recommended.
  • Changing the Default SSH Port: Altering the default port can reduce the risk of automated attacks.
  • Disabling Root Login: Preventing direct root logins mitigates the risk of unauthorized access.
  • Using Fail2Ban: This tool bans IP addresses that exhibit malicious behavior, attempting to breach your server’s security.

Implementing Key-Based Authentication

To switch to key-based authentication, you must generate a pair of cryptographic keys on the client side:

ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096

Then, copy the public key to your Ubuntu server:

ssh-copy-id user@your_server_ip

After copying the key, ensure that PermitRootLogin and PasswordAuthentication are set to ‘no’ in the SSH configuration file (/etc/ssh/sshd_config) to disable password authentication and root login.

Adjusting the Default SSH Port

Changing the default SSH port can be done by editing the same configuration file:

Port 2222

Remember to adjust your firewall settings accordingly to allow traffic on the new port.

Advanced SSH Server Configuration

Beyond basic setup and security, there are advanced configurations that can further optimize and secure your SSH server:

  • Use AllowUsers/DenyUsers directives: Control which users can or cannot SSH into the server.
  • X11 Forwarding: If you need to run graphical applications over SSH, enable X11 forwarding with caution.
  • Limiting User’s SSH Access: Restrict users to specific commands or directory trees using chroot jails or forced commands.

Tuning SSH Performance

For performance improvements, consider these tweaks:

  • ClientAliveInterval: Sets a timeout interval to keep connections alive.
  • Compression: Enable compression to speed up data transfer on slow networks.

Monitoring and Troubleshooting SSH Connections

Keeping tabs on who accesses your server and troubleshooting potential issues is part of effective SSH server management. Tools like journalctl and sshd -T can help monitor and diagnose SSH-related problems.

Analyzing Logs

SSH activity is logged, which can be invaluable for monitoring access and identifying unauthorized attempts:

sudo journalctl -u ssh

This command displays logs related to the SSH service.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I restart the SSH service after making configuration changes?

You can restart the SSH service with:

sudo systemctl restart ssh

Can I use SSH for transferring files?

Yes, SSH provides SCP and SFTP protocols for secure file transfers.

Is it safe to disable password authentication completely?

If you’ve set up key-based authentication and ensured all users have their keys configured, it is generally safe to disable password authentication.


Setting up an SSH server on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS involves careful consideration of both functionality and security. By following the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can establish a robust and secure SSH environment tailored to your needs. Remember, maintaining an SSH server is an ongoing process that requires regular updates, monitoring, and adjustments to stay ahead of potential security threats.


  • OpenSSH Documentation: https://www.openssh.com/documentation.html
  • Ubuntu 20.04 Server Guide: https://ubuntu.com/server/docs
  • UFW Documentation: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UFW
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