I have a co-worker who installed the gnome desktop on top of 10.04 LTS Server. His gnome session is running under ssh-agent, and if he runs ssh-add directly, it immediately prompts for his passphrase and adds the key. He hasn't restarted the session, so I'm not sure if ssh-add is required for every session.

I'm use to OS X, where ssh key passphrases are stored in the keychain, so that you only need to remember your account password. Is there a similar central password storage with a graphical interface for Gnome? Is it standard on the Desktop edition, or is it an additional install there as well?

  • 1
    Gnome Keyring ;)
    – RobinJ
    Aug 30, 2011 at 18:59
  • The keys stay in the session as long as ssh-agent is running. The duraction can even be shorted by specifying the timeout option for ssh-add, the next command adds the default SSH keys for one hour (3600 seconds): ssh-add -t 3600
    – Lekensteyn
    Aug 31, 2011 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


The program your coworker is looking for is ssh-askpass:

under X, asks user for a passphrase for ssh-add

This is integrated into Gnome in the package ssh-askpass-gnome (which will interface with Gnome Keyring, so you can save the ssh key decryption password in the keyring, and it will be supplied as needed) - note that it should already be installed if the metapackage ubuntu-desktop is.

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