Content-type: text/html Manpage of MAKE-SSH-KNOWN-HOSTS


Section: SSH TOOLS (1)
Updated: November 8, 1995


make-ssh-known-hosts - make ssh_known_hosts file from DNS data  


[--initialdns initial_dns]
[--server domain_name_server]
[--subdomains comma_separated_list_of_subdomains]
[--debug debug_level]
[--timeout ssh_exec_timeout]
[--pingtimeout ping_timeout]
[--passwordtimeout timeout_when_asking_password]
[--nslookup path_to_nslookup_program]
[--ssh path_to_ssh_program]
domain_name [take_regexp [remove_regexp]]



make-ssh-known-hosts is a perl5 script that helps create the /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts file, which is used by ssh to contain the host keys of all publicly known hosts. Ssh does not normally permit login using rhosts or /etc/hosts.equiv authentication unless the server knows the client's host key. In addition, the host keys are used to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks.

In addition to /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts, ssh also uses the $HOME/.ssh/known_hosts file. This file, however, is intended to contain only those hosts that the particular user needs but are not in the global file. It is intended that the /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts file be maintained by the system administration, and periodically updated to contain the host keys for any new hosts.

The make-ssh-known-hosts program finds all the hosts in a domain by making a DNS query to the master domain name server of the domain. The master domain name server is located by searching for the SOA record of the domain from the initial domain name server (which can be specified with the --initialdns option). The master domain name server can also be given directly with the --server option.

After getting the hostname list make-ssh-known-hosts tries to get the public key from every host in the domain. It first tries to connect ssh port to check check if the host is alive, and if so, it tries to run the command cat /etc/ssh/ on the remote machine using ssh. If the command succeeds, it knows the remote machine has ssh installed properly, and it then extracts the public key from the output, and prints the /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts entry for it to STDOUT. Because make-ssh-known-hosts is usually run before remote machines have /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts file you may have to use RSA-authentication to allow access to hosts.

If the command fails for some reason, it checks if the ssh client still got the public key from the remote host in the initial dialog, and if so, it will print a proper entry, and if --notrustdaemon option is given comment it out.

Domain_name is the domain name for which the file is to be generated. By default make-ssh-known-hosts extracts also all subdomains of domain. Many sites will want to include several domains in their /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts file. The entries for each domain should be extracted separately by running make-ssh-known-hosts once for each domain. The results should then be combined to create the final file.

Take_regexp is a perl regular expression that matches the hosts to be taken from the domain. The data matched contains all the DNS records in the form "fieldname=value". The fields are separated with newline, and the perl match is made in multiline mode and it is case insensetive. The multiline mode means that you can use a regexp like "^wks=.*telnet.*$" to match all hosts that have WKS (well known services) field that contains value "telnet".

Remove_regexp is similar but those hosts that match the regexp are not added (it can be used for example to filter out PCs and Macs using the hinfo field: "^hinfo=.*(mac|pc)").



--initialdns initial_dns
-i initial_dns
Set the initial domain name server used to query the SOA record of the domain.

--server domain_name_server
-se domain_name_server
Set the master domain name server of the domain. This host is used to query the DNS list of the domain.

--subdomains subdomainlist
-su subdomainlist
Comma separated list of subdomains that are added to hostnames. For example, if subdomainlist is ",foo,,," then when host foobar is added to /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts file it has aliases "foobar,,,,". The default action is to take all subparts of the host but the second last on a host by host basis. (The last element is usually the country code, and something like would not make sense.)

--debug debug_level
-de debug_level
Set the debug level. Default is 5, bigger values give more output. Using a big value (like 999) will print lots of debugging output.

--timeout ssh_exec_timeout
-ti ssh_exec_timeout
Timeout when executing ssh command. The default is 60 seconds.

--pingtimeout ping_timeout
-pi ping_timeout
Timeout when trying to ping the ssh port. The default is 3 seconds.

--passwordtimeout timeout_when_asking_password
-pa timeout_when_asking_password
Timeout when asking password for ssh command. Default is that no passwords are queried. Use value 0 to have no timeout for password queries.

If the ssh command fails, use the public key stored in the local known hosts file and trust it is the correct key for the host. If this option is not given such entries are commented out in the generated /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts file.

Tell make-ssh-known-hosts that it should only extract keys for the given domain, and not to be recursive.

Split the domainname to get the list of subdomains. Use this option if you don't want hostname to splitted to pieces automatically. Default splitting is done host by host basis. If the domain is, and the host name is then default action adds entries "foo,,," and this options adds entries ",,").

Be silent.

Output list of all hosts in format "ipaddr1,ipaddr2,...ipaddrn,hostname,ipaddr1,ipaddr2,all_other_hostname_entries". The output of this can be feeded to ssh-keyscan to fetch keys.

--nslookup path_to_nslookup_program
-n path_to_nslookup_program
Path to the nslookup program.

--ssh path_to_ssh_program
-ss path_to_ssh_program
Path to the ssh program, including all options.



The following command:

example# make-ssh-known-hosts > /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts

finds all public keys of the hosts in domain and put them to /etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts file splitting domain names on a per host basis.

The command

example% make-ssh-known-hosts '^wks=.*ssh' > hut-hosts

finds all hosts in domain, and its subdomains having own name server (,, that have ssh service and puts their public key to hut-hosts file. This would require that the domain name server of would define all hosts running ssh to have entry ssh in their WKS record. Because nobody yet adds ssh to WKS, it would be better to use command

example% make-ssh-known-hosts '^wks=.*telnet' > hut-hosts

that would take those host having telnet service. This uses default subdomain list.

The command:

example% make-ssh-known-hosts '' '^hinfo=.*(mac|pc)' > dipoli-hosts

finds all hosts in domain that are in subdomain (note does not have own name server so its entries are in and that are not Mac or PC.



/etc/ssh/ssh_known_hosts      Global host public key list



ssh(1), sshd(8), ssh-keygen(1), ping(8), nslookup(8), perl(1), perlre(1)



Tero Kivinen <>



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Time: 12:49:49 GMT, January 02, 2000