How to Enable SSH on Ubuntu: A Step-by-Step Guide


Secure Shell (SSH) is an essential tool for system administrators, developers, and IT professionals. It provides a secure way to access a remote server, making it an invaluable resource for managing systems remotely. For users of Ubuntu, one of the most popular Linux distributions, setting up SSH can greatly enhance the system’s usability and security. This blog post will guide you through the process of enabling SSH on Ubuntu, ensuring a seamless and secure remote access experience.

What is SSH?

SSH, or Secure Shell, is a network protocol that allows for secure data communication, remote shell services, and command execution. It is widely used by system administrators for managing systems and applications remotely. SSH encrypts the data transmitted, ensuring that sensitive information remains secure from unauthorized access.

Why Enable SSH on Ubuntu?

Enabling SSH on Ubuntu allows for secure remote access to your Ubuntu machine. This is particularly useful for managing servers, automating tasks, and transferring files securely over unsecured networks.

Step-by-Step Guide to Enabling SSH on Ubuntu

  • Update Your Ubuntu System Before installing any new software, it’s a good practice to update your system. Open your terminal and run the following commands:
sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

This will ensure that all your system’s packages are up to date.

  • Install the OpenSSH Server Ubuntu uses OpenSSH, an open-source SSH tool. To install it, run:
sudo apt install openssh-server

After the installation is complete, the SSH service will start automatically.

  • Verify SSH Service Status To check if the SSH server is running, use:
sudo systemctl status ssh

You should see a status indicating that the service is active and running.

  • Configure SSH (Optional) The default configuration of SSH is generally sufficient for most users. However, you can make changes to the configuration file located at /etc/ssh/sshd_config. Some common configurations include changing the default SSH port, disabling root login, and limiting user access. Remember to restart the SSH service after making any changes:
sudo systemctl restart ssh
  • Adjust Firewall Settings If you have a firewall enabled, you need to allow SSH traffic. For Ubuntu’s default UFW firewall, run:
sudo ufw allow ssh

This will allow traffic on port 22, the default SSH port.

  • Connect to Your Ubuntu System via SSH To connect to your Ubuntu machine from another computer, use the SSH command:
ssh username@your_server_ip
  1. Replace username with your user account on the Ubuntu system and your_server_ip with the machine’s IP address.

Securing Your SSH Connection

  • Use Strong Passwords: Ensure that all user accounts on the system have strong, unique passwords.
  • Disable Root Login: It’s a security best practice to disable direct root login. Configure sudo for administrative tasks.
  • Change the Default SSH Port: Changing the default port (22) to a non-standard port can reduce the risk of automated attacks.
  • Use SSH Key Authentication: For enhanced security, set up SSH key-based authentication instead of password-based authentication.


Enabling SSH on Ubuntu is a straightforward process that opens up a world of possibilities for secure remote management of your system. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your SSH setup on Ubuntu is secure and efficient. Remember to follow best practices for securing your SSH connection to safeguard against unauthorized access.

Can I use SSH with a graphical user interface (GUI)?

Yes, SSH can be used to forward X11 sessions, allowing you to use GUI applications remotely.

How do I transfer files over SSH?

You can use tools like scp or rsync to securely transfer files over SSH.

What should I do if I’m unable to connect via SSH?

Check your firewall settings, ensure the SSH service is running, and verify your network connection.

Is it safe to open SSH to the internet?

While SSH is secure, exposing any service to the internet increases risk. Use strong passwords, SSH keys, and consider setting up a VPN for added security.

By understanding and implementing SSH on Ubuntu, you’ll enhance your system’s capabilities while maintaining a high level of security. Happy SSHing!