How to use ssh keys with putty and Red Hat Enterprise Linux ?

Solution Verified - Updated -


  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.3


  • SSH Keys generated by Putty do not work with openssh in Red Hat Enterprise Linux


  • To make it working convert the keys generated by Open-ssh to putty's format:

    • First generate keys on RHEL:
    # ssh-keygen -t rsa
    • Then put public key into authorized_keys file:
    # cat public_key >>  ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
    • Set proper permissions:
    # chmod 700 ~/.ssh
    # chmod 600 ~/.ssh/authorized_keys
  • Copy (for example with Winscp) private key into Windows machine.

  • Start the program called "puttygen", select "conversion" --> "Import keys" --> "your_private_key".
  • Save it somewhere in putty format.

Note: In order to use the converted key please create new putty session and fill the following fields:

  • "auto-login username" (username you wish to use as login) .
  • "connection" --> "ssh" --> "auth" --> "browse" (here please point to your newly generated putty key)-->
  • "session" --> "save".

Root Cause

  • This issue arises from the incompatibility between openssh system used by Linux machines and Putty key-generator.

Diagnostic Steps

  • Keys generated by puttygen, after being added to .ssh/authorized_keys do not work.
  • Rights for authorized_keys have been set correctly to 600.

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