I want to connect to a host via SSH but I don't want the hostname to be added to my ~/.ssh/known_hosts.

How can I do that?

7 Answers 7

-o "UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null"

should work.

  • 4
    Works as intended, but it will always report: "Warning: Permanently added 'hostname,ip' (RSA) to the list of known hosts." I made that go away with: 2>&1 | grep -v "^Warning: Permanently added" May 18, 2011 at 17:34
  • 6
    add -o "LogLevel ERROR" and it won't complain with Warnings anymore
    – John
    Sep 29, 2016 at 2:37
  • 2
    Note: a request to suppress that message "Warning: Permanently added 'hostname,ip' (RSA) to the list of known hosts." was reported to the maintainers bugzilla.mindrot.org/show_bug.cgi?id=2413
    – Ben Creasy
    Oct 4, 2017 at 2:14
  • 2
    Piping to grep will merge stdout and stderr; also the exit status can change. If using bash, it will be better to use process substitution to get rid of the message: ssh 2> >( egrep >&2 -v '^Warning: Permanently added') -o "UserKnownHostsFile /dev/null" [...]. It will avoid the pipe and thus the corresponding changes in exit status handling.
    – Alex O
    Oct 10, 2017 at 11:48
  • 2
    @John It is better to use one of the other methods in these comments, otherwise you are introducing a security flaw due to the potential to hide other, unrelated warnings Mar 5, 2019 at 14:21

If you want this behavior because you're working with cloud servers (AWS EC2, Rackspace CloudServers etc.) or you're constantly provisioning new images in Vagrant you may want to update your SSH config instead of adding bash aliases or more options on the command line.

Consider adding something like:

Host *.mydomain.com 
  StrictHostKeyChecking no
  UserKnownHostsFile /dev/null
  User foo
  LogLevel QUIET
  • Use as strict as regex for host as possible to be secure.
  • Setting the LogLevel to QUIET will keep the Warning which Guillaume mentioned from showing up
  • 2
    You really should try to not fully disable StrictHostKeyChecking, so cclark's answer is a great compromise for working with cloud servers. Sep 24, 2012 at 16:39
  • This proved very helpful to me as I was using Shipit (a JavaScript deployment tool) against Vagrant. I couldn't easily get at the parameters Shipit was passing to SSH so this allowed me to sidestep the tool and tell it what I did and didn't want it to remember. Mar 11, 2015 at 3:06
  • 1
    LogLevel is what I was looking for. It has the added advantage of not showing the company configured notice when running scripts! (I am running now w/ loglevel ERROR) Aug 4, 2015 at 3:46
  • In what file do I add this ? May 18, 2017 at 12:06
  • 1
    This is your SSH configuration file. In Linux or macOS the file would generally be in a directory called .ssh within your home directory and named config -- ~/.ssh/config
    – cclark
    May 18, 2017 at 12:09

For a single ssh session, use this

ssh -o StrictHostKeyChecking=no -o UserKnownHostsFile=/dev/null user@host

I feel like adding the host key to your known_hosts (the folks running these services are, in my experience, at least smart enough to keep their host keys consistent between machines serving the same hostname) and then turning on StrictHostKeyChecking, turning off CheckHostIP, and logging with LogLevel ERROR will give you the best experience without sacrificing security. (Ok, without CheckHostIP you do need to trust DNS, which is a huge gaping hole without widespread DNSSEC or something similar; but we'll just sweep that under the rug for the moment.)

I use a read-only known_hosts file, so I have to do something or I get endless warnings about not being able to add entries to known_hosts.

What I use:

Host github.com *.github.com
StrictHostKeyChecking yes
CheckHostIP no
LogLevel ERROR

I would like these services to publish their SSH host keys on their websites via HTTPS, so I can copy them explicitly without having to connect first and potentially expose myself to a MITM attack.

  • No need to publish keys on a website. DNS SSHFP records have been around since 2006. It is not widely supported, at least not on public DNS. Nov 2, 2021 at 13:36
  • If anyone actually used DNSSEC, this might be a viable option for trust establishment. Since end-to-end DNSSEC is virtually non-existent, however, trusting a key served over DNS is probably worse in most cases than TOFU.
    – Kyle Rose
    Nov 3, 2021 at 14:59
  • Fair, the adoption rate is poor. Nov 4, 2021 at 17:05

I suggest

LogLevel ERROR


LogLevel QUIET

so you still get "Could not resolve hostname" and other such errors

  • you should be able to trust your SSH connections, imho. Not just make it silent about your risks.
    – sylvainulg
    Jan 23, 2015 at 9:16
  • 4
    Depends really. We have development environments that get torn down each week and rebuilt, their A records stay the same but their host key is generated each time it's built. We can't persist the host keys because the A record is just defined in a database based off an environment name, and environment names can be scrapped or new ones created at any time, so the above workaround is genuinely useful.
    – Alex Berry
    Jun 27, 2017 at 8:59

Have you tried disabling StrictHostKeyChecking? You can do it with the -o option or in the configuration file ~/.ssh/config.

  • I'm already using that. But it has a different effect: It loweres the strictness for the host key checking. I.e. when the host is unknown, it still connects when you disable that option. Thus, it still saves the host. But I think I have found the right solution (see my answer).
    – Albert
    May 15, 2010 at 0:29

I found the following .ssh/config entries useful (LAN with DHCP and DNS):

 CheckHostIP no

 Host *.*
 CheckHostIP yes

Result is local machine names "zora" or "goron" will not check against dynamically assigned IP addresses, but www.mycompany.com or node42.planetlab.com will still have their static IPs confirmed.

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