Documentation:

How to use SSH

SSH is a widely used software package to securely log into other computers anywhere on the internet, to securely transfer files back and forth, and a few other things.

It is used by UBOS for remote systems administration, and for secure file upload or download.

Installation

Linux

SSH is typically pre-installed on Linux, regardless which distribution you are using. If not, it should definitely be in your distro’s package repositories and can be installed like any other optional package.

On the terminal, type: ssh

MacOS

SSH is pre-installed on the Mac.

On the terminal, type: ssh

Windows

Various implementations of SSH exist on Windows, for example Putty. A web search may find others.

Basic usage

To use SSH to log into a remote computer, such as a UBOS device, you need to know the device’s hostname or IP address.

You also need a credential that only you know, to prevent others from logging into the UBOS device. While SSH supports logins with usernames and passwords, this functionality is disabled in UBOS by default for security reasons. Instead, you need to use an SSH key pair. If you do not have an SSH key pair yet, see below.

To log on to the UBOS device with the default SSH key pair, assuming <HOST> is the hostname or IP address of the UBOS device:

% ssh shepherd@<HOST>

To log on to the UBOS device with a non-default SSH key pair, assuming <KEYFILE> is the name of the SSH private key file (the one that does NOT end in .pub:

% ssh -i <KEYFILE> shepherd@<HOST>

Once you are logged on, your can execute the various UBOS administration commands over the network, such as ubos-admin listsites.

How to generate an SSH key pair

If you use the The UBOS Staff, UBOS can generate an SSH key pair automatically upon the boot of your UBOS device. This is documented there. If you do so and copy the private key to your computer, make sure you secure access to the private key file (usually called id_rsa). This is important because anybody who has access to this file can access your UBOS device just as well as you can. It is also important because SSH does not let you use the file if it is not properly secured. On Mac or Linux, you want to execute:

% chmod 600 id_rsa

To manually generate a new SSH key pair, on Linux or macOS, execute:

% ssh-keygen

and answer the questions that program asks. Make a note where you saved your new key pair, so you can enter the correct filename when you need it.

What is an SSH key pair?

An SSH key pair consists of two files, usually called id_rsa and id_rsa.pub. The first one of these files contains the “private key” and the second one the “public key”. Together, they form an SSH key pair.

The “private key” is your key to the kingdom. Anybody who has access to the private key can log on to a remote UBOS device that uses this key pair.

The “public key”, on the other hand, can be freely shared. You can post it on the internet and your UBOS device will still be secure.

It is the magic of public key cryptography that you can prove to anybody who has access to the public key, that you are in possession of the private key. Conversely, anybody who does not have access to the private key cannot impersonate you because they cannot prove they have possession of the private key. This all occurs without anybody other than you ever having access to the private key.

So the UBOS device, to which you want to log on, has access to the public key, but not the private key. Only you have access to the private key. This way, the UBOS device can make sure only you can log on via SSH, and nobody else.