ssh to postgres issue solved

by Brian Fitzgerald


You have double checked everything, but ssh to postgres does not work.


  1. You did a postgres package install
  2. ssh to other accounts works
  3. ssh to postgres using a key does not work
  4. Directory .ssh mode is 700
  5. File authorized_keys mode is 600


Check whether selinux is enforcing acccess controls.

[postgres@test ~]$ getenforce

Note in /var/log/audit/audit.log, “avc: denied…scontext…sshd…tcontext…postressql_db_t”

type=AVC msg=audit(1562467696.927:316): avc:  denied  { read } for  pid=2282 comm="sshd" name="authorized_keys" dev="sda2" ino=56806 scontext=system_u:system_r:sshd_t:s0-s0:c0.c1023 tcontext=unconfined_u:object_r:postgresql_db_t:s0 tclass=file permissive=0

Note that the inode is 56806. Check ls -i:

[postgres@test ~]$ cd .ssh

[postgres@test .ssh]$ ls -i authorized_keys
56806 authorized_keys

Check the authorized_keys selinux type:

[postgres@test .ssh]$ ls -Z authorized_keys
-rw-------. postgres postgres unconfined_u:object_r:postgresql_db_t:s0 authorized_keys

The type is “postgresql_db_t”. In order for ssh to work, the type needs to be “ssh_home_t”.


Issue restorecon -R .ssh

[postgres@test ~]$ restorecon -R .ssh
[postgres@test ~]$ ls -RZ .ssh
-rw-------. postgres postgres unconfined_u:object_r:ssh_home_t:s0 authorized_keys


[postgres@pgstby .ssh]$ ssh test date
Sun Jul  7 02:57:21 UTC 2019

ssh works!

Note that new files created under directory .ssh will inherit the necessary ssh_home_t type.


If the home directory is an incompatible subtype then restorecon will not work. In that case, run chcon. i.e.:

[postgres@test ~]$ chcon -R unconfined_u:object_r:ssh_home_t:s0 ~/.ssh


[postgres@test ~]$ chcon -R system_u:object_r:usr_t:s0 ~/.ssh


If restorecon did not work, you can configure it to work in the future:

[root@test ~]# semanage fcontext -a -t ssh_home_t ~postgres/'.ssh(/.+)?'


The linux system was built from Azure image Redhat Enterprise Linux 7.6, which has selinux enabled by default.

Postgres was installed from package rh-postgresql10 created the user postgres, and then set the selinux type of most files and directories to postressql_db_t.

The .ssh directory inherited its type from its parent.

Normal home directory

The normal type of a home directory is user_home_dir_t. Subdirectory .ssh gets created as type ssh_home_t

[normal@test ~]$ ls -dZ
drwx------. normal normal unconfined_u:object_r:user_home_dir_t:s0 .
[normal@test ~]$ mkdir .ssh
[normal@test ~]$ ls -dZ .ssh
drwxrwxr-x. normal normal unconfined_u:object_r:ssh_home_t:s0 .ssh

Affected systems

In this example, the system was Redhat Linux on Azure, but it can happen on any system running selinux. The issue was noticed after a PostgreSQL package install. The same problem could appear with other package installs that create home directories.

Recommended practice

On selinux-enabled systems, create the .ssh directory this way:

[postgres@test ~]$ mkdir .ssh
[postgres@test ~]$ chmod 700 .ssh
[postgres@test ~]$ restorecon -R .ssh

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