Here are the steps to setup OpenSSH with Git to connect to a repository on GitHub.

I use Windows as my main OS and Cmder as my console emulator. Installing the full version you will get Git for Windows which has loads of Unix commands available in your PATH including OpenSSH. The version of Cmder I’m using is 1.3.0.

Retro arcade showing Pacman Photo by Rebecca Oliver on Unsplash

Steps for connecting to GitHub with SSH:

See the troubleshooting section below if you have any issues with the steps.

  1. ssh-keygen -t rsa -C "[email protected]" - Three additional question from the command:
    • Path and file name of where you want to put the key. The default will be added to your user profile .ssh directory
    • Create a passphrase (this can be left empty)
    • Enter passphrase again
  2. Ensure your ssh-agent has started, by running the ssh-agent command
  3. Add your private key using ssh-add ~/.path_to/private_key_file
  4. You can confirm it has been added using ssh-add -l. This will show a list of added keys
  5. Add your public key to GitHub settings -> SSH and GPG keys
    • Open your public key file and copy/paste into GitHub SSH Keys

Important: You will need to let Git know the SSH client to use. Add/Update the environment variable GIT_SSH with the path to OpenSSH client e.g. C:\cmder\vendor\git-for-windows\usr\bin\ssh.exe

With this setup, you should now be able to push/pull/clone a GitHub repository.

You might get asked when connecting for the first time:

The authenticity of host ‘github.com (ip.ad.dre.ss)’ can’t be established.
RSA key fingerprint is SHA256:nTsAg6kXaklskaeeseweRYHXTxdCARteiKw6E5SY8.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?

You decide, but “yes” if you want to connect and push your code.

Troubleshooting

ssh-agent

Error message: unable to start ssh-agent service, error :1058

I found that the service was disabled. Type in services in the start menu and open the Services app. Look for OpenSSH Authentication Agent and set it to Automatic.

ssh-add path/to/private_key

Error message: Could not open a connection to your authentication agent.

This might be ssh-add does not know where the ssh-agent is to run. Cmder has a start up script you can use for every new terminal. In cmder/config/user-profile.cmd add or uncomment the line call "%GIT_INSTALL_ROOT%/cmd/start-ssh-agent.cmd"

Git push/pull/clone

FATAL ERROR: Disconnected: No supported authentication methods available (server sent: publickey)

You need to add/update the environment variable GIT_SSH to the correct path of your SSH client

Useful links: