I'm aware that setting PermitRootLogin yes is required to have no password prompt when logging via root using ssh

I have set that below, However when i give ssh root@localhost I still receive the password prompt, what needs to be changed further?

I've rebooted it also using sudo service ssh restart

Full sshd_config ---- below

# Package generated configuration file
# See the sshd_config(5) manpage for details

# What ports, IPs and protocols we listen for
Port 22
# Use these options to restrict which interfaces/protocols sshd will bind to
#ListenAddress ::
Protocol 2
# HostKeys for protocol version 2
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ecdsa_key
HostKey /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ed25519_key
#Privilege Separation is turned on for security
UsePrivilegeSeparation yes

# Lifetime and size of ephemeral version 1 server key
KeyRegenerationInterval 3600
ServerKeyBits 1024

# Logging
SyslogFacility AUTH
LogLevel INFO

# Authentication:
LoginGraceTime 120
PermitRootLogin yes
StrictModes yes

RSAAuthentication yes
PubkeyAuthentication yes
#AuthorizedKeysFile %h/.ssh/authorized_keys

# Don't read the user's ~/.rhosts and ~/.shosts files
IgnoreRhosts yes
# For this to work you will also need host keys in /etc/ssh_known_hosts
RhostsRSAAuthentication no
# similar for protocol version 2
HostbasedAuthentication no
# Uncomment if you don't trust ~/.ssh/known_hosts for RhostsRSAAuthentication
#IgnoreUserKnownHosts yes

# To enable empty passwords, change to yes (NOT RECOMMENDED)
PermitEmptyPasswords no

# Change to yes to enable challenge-response passwords (beware issues with
# some PAM modules and threads)
ChallengeResponseAuthentication no

# Change to no to disable tunnelled clear text passwords
#PasswordAuthentication yes

# Kerberos options
#KerberosAuthentication no
#KerberosGetAFSToken no
#KerberosOrLocalPasswd yes
#KerberosTicketCleanup yes

# GSSAPI options
#GSSAPIAuthentication no
#GSSAPICleanupCredentials yes

X11Forwarding yes
X11DisplayOffset 10
PrintMotd no
PrintLastLog yes
TCPKeepAlive yes
#UseLogin no

#MaxStartups 10:30:60
#Banner /etc/issue.net

# Allow client to pass locale environment variables
AcceptEnv LANG LC_*

Subsystem sftp /usr/lib/openssh/sftp-server

# Set this to 'yes' to enable PAM authentication, account processing,
# and session processing. If this is enabled, PAM authentication will
# be allowed through the ChallengeResponseAuthentication and
# PasswordAuthentication.  Depending on your PAM configuration,
# PAM authentication via ChallengeResponseAuthentication may bypass
# the setting of "PermitRootLogin without-password".
# If you just want the PAM account and session checks to run without
# PAM authentication, then enable this but set PasswordAuthentication
# and ChallengeResponseAuthentication to 'no'.
UsePAM yes


root@tejeshbox:~# ssh -v root@localhost
OpenSSH_6.6.1, OpenSSL 1.0.1f 6 Jan 2014
debug1: Reading configuration data /etc/ssh/ssh_config
debug1: /etc/ssh/ssh_config line 19: Applying options for *
debug1: Connecting to localhost [] port 22.
debug1: Connection established.
debug1: permanently_set_uid: 0/0
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_rsa type 1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_rsa-cert type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_dsa type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_dsa-cert type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_ecdsa type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_ecdsa-cert type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_ed25519 type -1
debug1: identity file /root/.ssh/id_ed25519-cert type -1
debug1: Enabling compatibility mode for protocol 2.0
debug1: Local version string SSH-2.0-OpenSSH_6.6.1p1 Ubuntu-2ubuntu2.3
debug1: Remote protocol version 2.0, remote software version OpenSSH_6.6.1p1 Ubuntu-2ubuntu2.3
debug1: match: OpenSSH_6.6.1p1 Ubuntu-2ubuntu2.3 pat OpenSSH_6.6.1* compat 0x04000000
debug1: SSH2_MSG_KEXINIT sent
debug1: SSH2_MSG_KEXINIT received
debug1: kex: server->client aes128-ctr hmac-md5-etm@openssh.com none
debug1: kex: client->server aes128-ctr hmac-md5-etm@openssh.com none
debug1: sending SSH2_MSG_KEX_ECDH_INIT
debug1: expecting SSH2_MSG_KEX_ECDH_REPLY
debug1: Server host key: ECDSA 8f:47:cd:59:1b:7a:60:07:e9:35:75:c1:8b:4b:63:92
debug1: Host 'localhost' is known and matches the ECDSA host key.
debug1: Found key in /root/.ssh/known_hosts:1
debug1: ssh_ecdsa_verify: signature correct
debug1: SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS sent
debug1: expecting SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS
debug1: SSH2_MSG_NEWKEYS received
debug1: Roaming not allowed by server
debug1: SSH2_MSG_SERVICE_ACCEPT received
debug1: Authentications that can continue: publickey,password
debug1: Next authentication method: publickey
debug1: Offering RSA public key: /root/.ssh/id_rsa
debug1: Authentications that can continue: publickey,password
debug1: Trying private key: /root/.ssh/id_dsa
debug1: Trying private key: /root/.ssh/id_ecdsa
debug1: Trying private key: /root/.ssh/id_ed25519
debug1: Next authentication method: password
root@localhost's password: 
PermitRootLogin yes

You still need password to login. What is meant by above line is to permit root login via SSH and you still need public key or password to access the system.

You can look at this How to use passwordless SSH.

  • edited to add the ssh debug, I still get the password prompt probably because of the last lines debug1: Trying private key: /root/.ssh/id_dsa debug1: Trying private key: /root/.ssh/id_ecdsa debug1: Trying private key: /root/.ssh/id_ed25519 What is this? – wolfgang Oct 6 '15 at 10:25
  • 1
    SSH will try to authenticate your identity using multiple methods. The debug line above was when SSH trying to authenticate using public/private key pair,in this case it was failed and jump to another method which is password login. – Aizuddin Zali Oct 6 '15 at 10:28
  • Well, how can i authenticate via public/private key then? is there a way i can reconfigure this? – wolfgang Oct 6 '15 at 10:29
  • yes you may, and usually this is more secure. You can follow the link I pasted in the answer. Please accept this answer if this is the answer you are looking for. – Aizuddin Zali Oct 6 '15 at 10:30

The default setting:

PermitRootLogin without-password

Will work if you correctly set up SSH key based authentication.

PermitRootLogin yes

Is insecure if you've activated the root password on your system, the baddies can try to brute force your root password, and if successful will have access to your whole system.


I found that commanded restart of ssh didn't work after setting PermitRootLogin -- Yes, it was being ignored, so I killed sshd as sudo and then restarted it with /etc/init.d/ssh restart. This worked.

Or you could reboot your computer.

However that doesn't fix the "no password" issue, just the "Permission denied" issue - as per your title.

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