When working with Git repositories that are hosted on github.com, once you start making code changes and wanting to write those back, having to constantly type your username + password gets old. This is how to setup your workstation that us running Linux, to use SSH keys (without a passphrase).

Create Your SSH Keys

  • On a terminal running on your workstation, running under your user ID, run the following commands:
ssh-keygen -t rsa 
  • Follow the prompts to specify the filename and location to store your keys.
  • When prompted for a passphrase, just press enter (twice) if you don’t wish to secure your keys with a passphrase (not recommended)
  • You should now have 2 files created as follows:
    • ~/.ssh/filename.id_dsa # this is your private key. It is important you keep this secure and not share.
    • ~/.ssh/filename.id_dsa.pub # this is your public key that goes with your private key. This key you share with vendors.

Update Github Repository Settings with your Public Key

  • Login to Github.com
  • Navigate to your profile settings -> SSH and GPG Keys
  • Add a new SSH key as follows:
    • Provide a title for your key of your choosing.
    • Paste in the contents of your “public” key created above. The line should start with ssh-rsa
  • Click Add SSH Key button.

Update SSH Config on your Workstation

  • Edit your ssh config file. (default: ~/.ssh/config)
  • Create a block as follows, ensuring you substitute in the path to your private key and the repository you are working with.
host github.com-myrepo
  HostName github.com
  User git
  IdentityFile ~/.ssh/git-myprivatekey.id_rsa

Update your Local Repo Clone Configuration

  • Assuming you have cloned your repository to ~/repo, open the file ~/repo/.git/config
  • Update the git config file, by changing the url line as follows (note: below is the commented original followed by the updated url line):
host github.com-myrepo
[remote "origin"]
  #url = https://github.com/somename/repo.github.io.git
  url = git@github.com-myrepo:somename/repo.github.io.git
  fetch = +refs/heads/*:refs/remotes/origin/*
  • Notice in the above, the URL line now contains the same name given to the host line in the ssh config earlier “github.com-myrepo”. By using this method, we can have multiple git config blocks that all point to github.com, yet, refer to different repositories and be able to have different ssh keys.


  • Now when you perform a git push command, you should not be prompted for any username or password.