How do I change it to save my identity permanently using Xfce? During my login session after I have entered:

$ ssh-add

Then identity is saved and I can connect via ssh without getting the dreaded:

Enter passphrase for key

However, once I logout and login back-in I get the following when running:

$ ssh-add -L

The agent has no identities.

$ ssh <hostname>

Enter passphrase for key '/home/user/.ssh/id_rsa':

Stackoverflow has the following solution, yet I do not understand the reference to in the config file:

IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_buhlServer

Specifically I do not understand what I would put on the identity file. Would I put the above word for word?

Or just add my file:

IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa

StackOverflow solution

  • ssh is completely independent of your window manager. Are you using the same login for Xfce and Unity?
    – terdon
    Jun 24, 2013 at 18:50
  • I have a brand new clean install of Xfce and ubuntu. I wiped out the old unity install. I have a Ubuntu server and do not have this problem and neither on my other Ubuntu clients. Something must be different.
    – Alliswell
    Jun 24, 2013 at 18:59
  • I took Xfce out of the question and just focused on Ubuntu.
    – Alliswell
    Jun 24, 2013 at 19:12
  • I'm thinking that Xfce/Gnome may actually make a difference. Which desktop environment are you having issues with?
    – andyg0808
    Jun 24, 2013 at 23:44
  • Also, note that Xfce and Gnome are not just window managers, they're actually desktop environments, according to en.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – andyg0808
    Jun 24, 2013 at 23:57

1 Answer 1


It appears that Xfce may well be the cause of your problem. Gnome, which underlies Unity, provides the GnomeKeyring, which can automatically unlock SSH keys for you—it replaces ssh-agent, as far as I can tell, and it supports ssh-add. You can interact with it using Seahorse. In your Unity install, press Alt+F2 and type seahorse, then press Enter to run Seahorse. Then look for a key labelled "Unlock password for: " and your key name. If you find one, that's probably what is causing the automatic unlock on Unity/Gnome. In that case, to get the same effect on XFCE, you might try these instructions from ArchLinux on using Gnome Keyring without Gnome. (I have no idea if they actually work; I just found them and I've found Arch's explanations helpful in the past.)

Further Reading:

  • Your guidance put me on the right track. Once I understood that it needed the GnomeKeyring I found that all was needed in Ubuntu-XFce was to goto Settings-Session and Startup-Advanced and select Launch GNOME services on startup and it saved the identity to the keyring.
    – Alliswell
    Jun 25, 2013 at 17:46
  • 1
    I could have also installed the key manager for Open SSH link as this article seems to point out. I have since then installed it on my Ubuntu Server and the key stays even when I logout.
    – Alliswell
    Jun 27, 2013 at 17:08
  • Thanks for the pointer to keychain (the key manager for OpenSSH) in your comment above. I'd never seen that before, but it looks handy. I figured I'd provide a link to the source here (which includes the docs in the readme) in case others are interested: github.com/funtoo/keychain
    – andyg0808
    Jul 26, 2014 at 19:45

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