How do SSH keys work?

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How do SSH keys work?

  • an SSH public/private key pair can be seen as a lock and a key
  • the SSH public key is equivalent with a lock: you can place it on servers you want to connect to.
  • the SSH private key is like a physical key: you don’t hand it out to other people.
  • anyone who has the key (and the optional password) can unlock the door and log in to the account.
  • the door to your ALICE account is special: it can have multiple locks (SSH public keys) attached to it, and you only need to open one lock with the corresponding key (SSH private key) to open the door (log in to the account)

Since ALICE uses Linux as main operating system, you will need to get acquainted with using the command-line interface and using the terminal.

Launch a terminal from your desktop’s application menu and you will see the bash shell. There are other shells, but most Linux distributions use bash by default. Before requesting an account, you need to generate a pair of ssh keys. One popular way to do this on Linux is using the OpenSSH client included with Linux, which you can then also use to log on to the clusters.