Git --local-branching-on-the-cheap

4.3 Git on the Server - Generating Your SSH Public Key

Generating Your SSH Public Key

That being said, many Git servers authenticate using SSH public keys. In order to provide a public key, each user in your system must generate one if they don’t already have one. This process is similar across all operating systems. First, you should check to make sure you don’t already have a key. By default, a user’s SSH keys are stored in that user’s ~/.ssh directory. You can easily check to see if you have a key already by going to that directory and listing the contents:

$ cd ~/.ssh
$ ls
authorized_keys2  id_dsa       known_hosts
config            id_dsa.pub

You’re looking for a pair of files named something and something.pub, where the something is usually id_dsa or id_rsa. The .pub file is your public key, and the other file is your private key. If you don’t have these files (or you don’t even have a .ssh directory), you can create them by running a program called ssh-keygen, which is provided with the SSH package on Linux/Mac systems and comes with the MSysGit package on Windows:

$ ssh-keygen 
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/Users/schacon/.ssh/id_rsa): 
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): 
Enter same passphrase again: 
Your identification has been saved in /Users/schacon/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /Users/schacon/.ssh/id_rsa.pub.
The key fingerprint is:
43:c5:5b:5f:b1:f1:50:43:ad:20:a6:92:6a:1f:9a:3a schacon@agadorlaptop.local

First it confirms where you want to save the key (.ssh/id_rsa), and then it asks twice for a passphrase, which you can leave empty if you don’t want to type a password when you use the key.

Now, each user that does this has to send their public key to you or whoever is administrating the Git server (assuming you’re using an SSH server setup that requires public keys). All they have to do is copy the contents of the .pub file and e-mail it. The public keys look something like this:

$ cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub 
ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAABIwAAAQEAklOUpkDHrfHY17SbrmTIpNLTGK9Tjom/BWDSU
GPl+nafzlHDTYW7hdI4yZ5ew18JH4JW9jbhUFrviQzM7xlELEVf4h9lFX5QVkbPppSwg0cda3
Pbv7kOdJ/MTyBlWXFCR+HAo3FXRitBqxiX1nKhXpHAZsMciLq8V6RjsNAQwdsdMFvSlVK/7XA
t3FaoJoAsncM1Q9x5+3V0Ww68/eIFmb1zuUFljQJKprrX88XypNDvjYNby6vw/Pb0rwert/En
mZ+AW4OZPnTPI89ZPmVMLuayrD2cE86Z/il8b+gw3r3+1nKatmIkjn2so1d01QraTlMqVSsbx
NrRFi9wrf+M7Q== schacon@agadorlaptop.local

For a more in-depth tutorial on creating an SSH key on multiple operating systems, see the GitHub guide on SSH keys at http://github.com/guides/providing-your-ssh-key.