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SSH into Linux Subsystem for Windows
  • In /etc/ssh/sshd_conf, set UsePrivilegeSeparation to no
  • In /etc/ssh/sshd_conf, temporarily enable plaintext passwords
  • In /etc/ssh/sshd_conf, change port (e.g. to 23) to avoid confusion with Windows SSH server
  • sudo service ssh restart
  • Add alternative port as a new rule to Windows firewall
  • On the client: ssh-copy-id user@server
  • In /etc/ssh/sshd_conf, re-disable plaintext passwords

To fix Could not load host key ... error:

  • sudo ssh-keygen -t rsa -f /etc/ssh/ssh_host_rsa_key
  • sudo ssh-keygen -t dsa -f /etc/ssh/ssh_host_dsa_key
  • sudo ssh-keygen -t ecdsa -f /etc/ssh/ssh_host_ecdsa_key

Note: bash.exe survives cutting the RDP connection. To not have WSL SSH exposed all the time, the suggested workflow ist to connect via RDP, start WSL, start SSH, then exit RDP and connect via SSH from the client machine.

@dukuo
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dukuo commented Nov 3, 2019

Alternatively, you can use ssh-keygen -A to generate all the missing keys. Thanks for sharing!

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ghost commented Jun 27, 2020

/etc/ssh/sshd_conf doesn't exist, do we have to write a new file ?

@qaisjp
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qaisjp commented Nov 10, 2020

/etc/ssh/sshd_conf doesn't exist, do we have to write a new file ?

It's /etc/ssh/sshd_config.


  • Plaintext passwords: change PasswordAuthentication no line to yes
  • Ports: add a Port 2222 line

I think the privilege separation step is optional.

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