DigitalOcean Permission denied (publickey) Solution

DigitalOcean Permission denied (publickey) Solution

Eren Basaran's photo
Eren Basaran
·Nov 22, 2020·

6 min read

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Today I’ve been want to create a web site for my domain and created a droplet on digitalocean. Everything was going well but when I want to connect to server via SSH got an error like “Permission denied (publickey)”. Firstly I tried create a new SSH key and save it on over digitalocean control panel, but nothings changed. Let’s begin with how can I created my ssh key what I’ve done?

Create SSH Key on Command Line

For creating SSH Key open command line and write the following command;


and run it. There is a command appeared like;

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/Users/obetron/.ssh/id_rsa):

waiting from you, a file name for creating key pairs. You can enter id_rsa or something like that.

Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):

Now asking to you a passphrase for key pairs. You can enter a pass and

Enter same passphrase again:

Enter same pass again for verification. After that there will be an output like that;

Your identification has been saved in obetron.
Your public key has been saved in
The key fingerprint is:
The key's randomart image is:
+---[RSA 2048]----+
|+o+**+oE         |
|+**BB..          |
|o*+B=..          |
| .=oo=..         |
|o.o+ooo.S        |
|.. +=.o          |
|    o= .         |
|      o .        |
|       .         |

Now your key pair created with a name;

-rw-------  1 obetron  staff  1896 Feb  1 13:04 obetron
-rw-r--r--  1 obetron  staff   417 Feb  1 13:04

obetron is a private key and is a public key. You can edit and possibly broke you public key :)

Add Public Key to DigitalOcean

Now you can get the public key, don’t afraid it’s just copy and paste. Run the command;

cat ~/.ssh/

Public key value seen as something like that;

ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAADAQABAAABAQDFQjE63daTs0xXQscVQgmUhwc9ZqErdlsKM+Txg+FgNwQY+UkUK7NompO6lARSeucB/ghcOxwRSU/ZXKYCQSEOuitHuNQyiXKkhOJJOYbaEWoiq5OltK87bp4uK4V2U/rZOkVdX4Lb7ihEd6DHt02nf13ZwiqupxKOQb1Y53yKoCXyOF2AgG7Sc7B4i31iY/spBcpcJWMnXwaXuNItjMH4lJtxJ8RJ7C18fEFjtgCG4MeZi7X2C7HoAaABPUnp0rjlcP74sDr1HjWPDugYAbqkmzkuQI9a/F/WPHQxTVy2blOnVTULx+9Q5c7t2NE/3g8pKcJ1xfbH7EDPQHzYeztZ obetron@Apple-MacBook-Pro.local

Copy it, and open your digitalocean account and select your droplet and there is a Security tab on the left hand side.

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Select Security tab and you can see Add SSH Key button.

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Click on it, paste the public key content there, and give a name for this SSH Key like Home, Work, or macbook etc. Click SSH Key Button and now you can connect to your server via ssh from your terminal.

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Now writing command like that;

ssh username@server_ip_address

But there is a problem, you got an error (if not, don’t need read the rest, you are lucky);

Permission denied (publickey)

Permission denied Problem Solution

First copy the your public key via command line with a command;

ssh-copy-id username@server_ip_address

But probably you can get a same error because you can not reach the server. If not you can try again connect server via ssh. You could find a some solutions from other sites. They say change the /etc/ssh/sshd_config;

sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config
PermitRootLogin prohibit-password to PermitRootLogin yes 
PasswordAuthentication no to PasswordAuthentication yes

This wasn’t work for me, I think you should try but if not, continue reading.

Last chance, I was edit the authorized_keys file directly from server. Connected to server via digitalocean gui command line tool with a root account. Select my droplet and clicked the Access link on the left hand side,

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Clicked the Launch Console button.

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Entered my username and pass and edit authorized_keys file;

vi ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

Delete content in authorized_keys file and copy and paste my own public key content. Then I tried to connect from my terminal I did it successfully.

You can solve this issue with another way, please write it down to commands.

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