I'm Parker.

Generating a Golang-compatible SSH RSA key pair

It took me an embarassingly long time to discover how to do this today, so I thought I’d write it down and send it into the ether of the Internet hoping it would help someone else someday.

So I have this great golang server which connects to a remote host over SSH. Not so bad so far, golang.org/x/crypto/ssh makes this pretty easy. The hard part is that the normal tools we use to generate SSH keys are not compatible with this crypto/ssh library.

My goal was to have a private key, PEM encoded, and encrypted with a passphrase. This would be loaded by my Go code. Then, I wanted to generate a public key for that private key that was in that funky authorized_keys SSH form of key-type key-value key-comment.

Using ssh-keygen gets you a PEM-encoded private key and a properly encoded public key, but when you try to load the private key into the Go library, it chokes on the passphrase. The trick is that several important headers are missing which tell the Go library that it’s encrypted.

The Solution

# To generate the private key, run the following:
$ openssl genrsa -des3 -out private.pem 4096

Now you have your private key. Now you need to generate the public key.

# To generate the *public* key from your private key, run the following:
$ openssl rsa -in private.pem -outform PEM -pubout -out public.pem

Now you have a PEM format for your public key. Nice! This can’t be used with SSH’s authorized_keys file though, so we’ll have to do one more conversion:

# To generate the ssh-rsa public key format, run the following:
$ ssh-keygen -f public.pem -i -mPKCS8 > id_rsa.pub

Now you have a public key in the format OpenSSH expects.

That seems to do the trick for me, and SSH connections are working great between my Go service and my servers. :tada: :sparkles: