Setting up openssh-server (1:5.3p1-3ubuntu7) ... 
Creating SSH2 RSA key; this may take some time ... 
Creating SSH2 DSA key; this may take some time ... 
start: Job failed to start

Can't initialize ssh, already tried reinstall.

SSH server is started manually via /etc/init.d/ssh start

netstat -nlp shows that no services are running at TCP port 22

  • Could you clarify in your question if you have tried starting it manually, ie sudo /etc/init.d/ssh start, and if so, did it give a different error than when you installed? Also, maybe you would want to install nmap and run nmap to see if there is already a instance of ssh running and put the result in your question.
    – Azendale
    Jul 17, 2011 at 20:21
  • i tried to run it manually, and got the same thing
    – Frielspak
    Jul 17, 2011 at 23:14
  • Try to start once again the ssh daemon manually and then open /var/log/auth and check at the bottom of the file what the logs show...
    – Pavlos G.
    Aug 22, 2011 at 10:59

6 Answers 6


Not sure that my solution is right. But if you just want to start your SSH server and then solve your problem later, here is my fast solution:

start-stop-daemon --start --pidfile /var/run/sshd.pid --exec /usr/sbin/sshd -- -p 22

if then you will see error:

Missing privilege separation directory: /var/run/sshd

then just create that missing directory, and try above start-stop-daemon command again:

mkdir /var/run/sshd
chmod 0755 /var/run/sshd

that helped me to start my sshd daemon.

  • 1
    This only fixes it for the current session. After a reboot that directory will be gone.
    – Malfist
    Nov 18, 2013 at 4:28
  • 2
    in the file /etc/init/ssh.conf add in the section pre-start script the folowing line :" mkdir -p -m0755 /var/run/sshd"
    – achabahe
    May 4, 2017 at 10:44

I had the same problem that sshd would not start because of error.
It showed that there was no directory /var/run/sshd.

ll  /var/run

showed a link to /run.
But on my system /run runs on ramdisk.
So I deleted the link and created the directories /var/run and /var/run/sshd. Now the sshd starts normally and I am able to reach my system over ssh again.


reconfiguring my firewall to allow port 22 worked for me.

ufw enable
ufw allow 22

There seem to be 3 issues resulting in this behavior (for my system Ubuntu 14.04LTS):

1- ssh unknown job occurs when you try to use 'service ssh start' from a 'su' session. Solution is to use sudo service start from a logged in user that can 'sudo'

2- The existing init.d/ssh script is exiting quietly without actually starting sshd when ssh is on upstart

3- The main reason ssh does not start is because on Ubuntu 14.04 there is an empty file /etc/ssh/sshd_host_not_to_run which indicates that sshd should not run. Just delete that file if you want sshd to run.

So overall solution is: Use sudo service ssh start after deleting /etc/ssh/sshd_host_not_to_run


Just re-install openssh-server:

sudo apt-get install --reinstall openssh-server

There's a bug report with a non-kluge solution to this bug


can be defused by implicitly setting 'UsePrivilegeSeparation no' in /etc/ssh/sshd_config,

re-installing doesn't necessarily fix it.

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