I'm using the default installation of openssh-server for my Ubuntu 14.04 server. I can connect through the console as root like normal, with my username and password. When I try to SSH with the same username/password, however, I repeatedly get Access Denied errors. /var/log/auth.log reports Failed password for root from <ip address> port <port> ssh2, but I'm entering the correct password.

Why can't I connect to the server via SSH, even though the username and password ARE correct?

  • possible duplicate of need to connect as **root@my-server-ip** with SSH – Eliah Kagan Aug 16 '14 at 2:17
  • @EliahKagan He he, I had reported that as dupe of this before it had got an answer. :D – muru Aug 16 '14 at 3:37
  • @muru I think either way would be okay, but that one seems a little broader in sccope (more general), has more answers, and has answers suggesting a wider range of solutions. Either way they're closed, answers from one could be mod-merged into the other (or not). – Eliah Kagan Aug 16 '14 at 6:06
  • Possible duplicate of How to enable ssh root access on Ubuntu 14.04 – That Brazilian Guy Feb 7 '16 at 13:57
  • If your server is in anyway outward facing please don't enable SSH as root. This is asking for trouble. – Robby1212 Apr 24 '18 at 15:53

The default setting in Debian (and hence Ubuntu) for OpenSSH Server is to deny password-based login for root and allow only key-based login. Change this line in /etc/ssh/sshd_config:

PermitRootLogin without-password


PermitRootLogin yes

And restart the SSH server:

sudo service ssh restart
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  • Aha, that did it! Thank you, I greatly appreciate it! – vaindil Aug 15 '14 at 16:35
  • 2
    @Vaindil But really, as gregory.0xf0 says, if you must log in remotely as root, it's much better to use key-based instead of password-based authentication. – Eliah Kagan Aug 16 '14 at 2:16
  • @Vaindil I second EliahKagan and gregory.0xf0 that key-based authentication is superior to password based. Switch to it if you can. – muru Aug 16 '14 at 3:39
  • It is, by the way, bad practice to allow root login anyways via SSH or via the GUI, you should only ever need root login in cases where sudo is disabled. – Thomas Ward Aug 16 '14 at 21:27
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    If it still not working, please try setting password for the root. For me that helps: sudo passwd root – kkochanski Jul 1 '17 at 20:37

To me, works changing (Ubuntu 18.04):

  • sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

  • PermitRootLogin prohibit-password to PermitRootLogin yes
  • PasswordAuthentication no to PasswordAuthentication yes

then, restart ssh service:

  • sudo service ssh restart


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Hackers will bang away with root user trying to brute force their way in. If you are going to allow root logins, you should definitely install Fail2Ban, or something similar to protect against brute force attacks. Also use a very hard to guess password without the use of common words.

And, as Vaindil pointed out, a key based login would be far superior. They are not very hard to setup. Here's a link to setup key-based login using PuTTY on windows: https://devops.profitbricks.com/tutorials/use-ssh-keys-with-putty-on-windows/ . But there are lots of others if you are using a different environment to login from.

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