How to Enable SSH on Ubuntu: A Comprehensive Guide


Welcome to our ultimate guide on enabling SSH on Ubuntu! In this article, we will walk you through the process of setting up and configuring SSH (Secure Shell) on your Ubuntu operating system. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced user, this guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions to ensure a smooth and secure SSH experience.

What is SSH?

SSH is a cryptographic network protocol that allows secure communication between two devices over an insecure network. It provides a secure channel for accessing and managing remote systems. SSH is widely used by system administrators, developers, and network engineers to remotely access and control servers and devices.

๐Ÿ”‘ Key Points:

  1. SSH (Secure Shell) is a secure network protocol.
  2. It allows remote access and control of devices.
  3. SSH provides encrypted communication over an insecure network.

Enabling SSH on Ubuntu

Now letโ€™s dive into the process of enabling SSH on your Ubuntu system. This section will guide you through the necessary steps to set up SSH and ensure a secure connection.

Step 1: Update and Upgrade

Before proceeding with enabling SSH, it is recommended to update and upgrade your Ubuntu system. Open a terminal and run the following commands:

sudo apt update

sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Install OpenSSH Server

To enable SSH on Ubuntu, we need to install the OpenSSH server package. Run the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install openssh-server

Step 3: Configure SSH

After installing the OpenSSH server, the configuration file needs to be modified to ensure the desired settings. Use a text editor to open the SSH configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Step 4: Customize SSH Settings

Within the SSH configuration file, there are various settings that can be customized to enhance security and control access. Here are a few key settings:

๐Ÿ”’ PermitRootLogin

This setting determines whether the root user is allowed to log in via SSH. It is recommended to set this to โ€œnoโ€ to prevent potential security breaches:

PermitRootLogin no

๐Ÿ” PasswordAuthentication

This setting defines whether password authentication is allowed for SSH connections. For enhanced security, it is advisable to disable password authentication and use key-based authentication instead:

PasswordAuthentication no

๐Ÿ”‘ PubkeyAuthentication

PubkeyAuthentication specifies whether public key authentication is allowed. Enable this setting to use SSH keys for authentication:

PubkeyAuthentication yes

Step 5: Restart SSH Service

After making changes to the SSH configuration file, it is necessary to restart the SSH service for the changes to take effect. Execute the following command:

sudo systemctl restart ssh

Step 6: Allow SSH Through Firewall

If you have a firewall enabled on your Ubuntu system, you need to allow SSH connections through the firewall. Run the following command to allow SSH traffic:

sudo ufw allow ssh

Step 7: Test SSH Connection

Once you have completed the above steps, itโ€™s time to test your SSH connection. From another device, open a terminal and run the following command:

ssh username@your_ubuntu_ip

Advantages and Disadvantages of SSH on Ubuntu

Advantages of SSH on Ubuntu

SSH offers several advantages, making it a popular choice for remote access and administration:

1. Secure Communication

SSH provides encrypted communication, ensuring the confidentiality and integrity of transmitted data.

2. Remote Access

With SSH, you can remotely access and control your Ubuntu system from anywhere in the world, allowing for convenient administration and troubleshooting.

3. Key-Based Authentication

SSH supports key-based authentication, which offers a more secure and convenient method of logging in compared to traditional passwords.

4. Port Forwarding

SSH allows you to securely tunnel connections, enabling access to services running on remote systems.

Disadvantages of SSH on Ubuntu

While SSH is a powerful tool, it also comes with some drawbacks:

1. Technical Complexity

Configuring and managing SSH may require some technical knowledge, especially for advanced settings and security measures.

2. Potential Security Risks

If SSH settings are not properly configured or secured, it may expose your system to potential security risks and unauthorized access.

3. Network Limitations

SSH relies on an internet connection, so network issues or outages can affect SSH connectivity and remote access.

Complete Table: Enable SSH on Ubuntu

Step Description
Step 1 Update and Upgrade
Step 2 Install OpenSSH Server
Step 3 Configure SSH
Step 4 Customize SSH Settings
Step 5 Restart SSH Service
Step 6 Allow SSH Through Firewall
Step 7 Test SSH Connection

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Can I enable SSH on Ubuntu without installing additional software?

No, you need to install the OpenSSH server package to enable SSH on Ubuntu.

2. How do I find the IP address of my Ubuntu system?

You can use the command ifconfig or ip addr show to find the IP address of your Ubuntu system.

3. Can I enable password authentication for SSH?

Yes, although it is not recommended for enhanced security. You can enable password authentication by setting the PasswordAuthentication directive to โ€œyesโ€ in the SSH configuration file.

4. What is key-based authentication?

Key-based authentication is a more secure method of logging into an SSH server, where a cryptographic key pair is used instead of a password.

5. How can I generate an SSH key pair?

You can generate an SSH key pair using the ssh-keygen command. It will create a public key and a private key.

6. Can I use SSH on Windows?

Yes, you can use SSH on Windows by installing an SSH client, such as PuTTY or OpenSSH for Windows.

7. How can I change the SSH listening port?

To change the default SSH listening port, edit the sshd_config file and modify the Port directive. Restart the SSH service for the changes to take effect.

8. Can I disable SSH access for specific users?

Yes, you can control SSH access by modifying the SSH configuration file and using the AllowUsers directive to specify the allowed users.

9. Does enabling SSH on Ubuntu affect system performance?

No, enabling SSH on Ubuntu does not significantly impact system performance unless it is heavily used.

10. How can I enhance SSH security on Ubuntu?

You can enhance SSH security on Ubuntu by disabling password authentication, using key-based authentication, and implementing additional security measures like firewall rules and fail2ban.

11. Can I access Ubuntuโ€™s GUI remotely through SSH?

Yes, it is possible to access Ubuntuโ€™s GUI remotely through SSH by forwarding X11 graphical sessions.

12. What is the default SSH port number?

The default SSH port number is 22.

13. Is it recommended to change the default SSH port?

Changing the default SSH port can help in reducing the number of automated SSH login attempts, but it is not a foolproof security measure. It is recommended to implement other security measures in conjunction with changing the port.


In conclusion, enabling SSH on Ubuntu allows for secure and convenient remote access to your system. By following the step-by-step instructions provided in this guide, you can easily set up SSH on your Ubuntu operating system. Remember to customize the SSH settings to ensure enhanced security and explore additional measures to protect your system from potential threats. With SSH, you can confidently access and manage your Ubuntu system from anywhere, making administrative tasks efficient and effortless.

Closing Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only. While efforts have been made to ensure accuracy, we make no claims or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information. Any reliance you place on the information is strictly at your own risk. We disclaim any responsibility for any errors, omissions, or results obtained from the use of this information. Always perform actions at your own discretion and adhere to best practices and security guidelines.