Last updated on October 11, 2018
If you have multiple ssh keys, it is sometimes hard to manage. This was written before, but mostly they are handling using different keys with different host. What if you have two or more GitHub or BitBucket accounts requiring different keys? As a result, I created skm to provide a more general solution. Here I’ll give a brief introduction of how to manage multiple SSH private keys with skm.
Since skm is written in Ruby, you need to install ruby first. Ruby is shipped with Mac OS X, and for most Linux distributions, you can install them quite easily:
# Debian/ubuntu sudo apt-get install ruby # Fedora sudo yum install ruby
Then install RubyGems if
gems command does not exist.
Alternatively, you could use rvm to install Ruby and RubyGems.
Finally install skm:
gem install skm # You may need root privilege by prepending
If you want to create new keys with skm, simply use the following command:
skm create key_name
Or use the following command to add a comment to the key (you may prefer it your email address):
skm create key_name -C "firstname.lastname@example.org"
Then you should find your new keys stored in a directory named
key_name located at
$ ls ~/.skm/keys/key_name id_rsa id_rsa.pub
To import keys to skm, simply create a new directory in
~/.skm/keys and copy
id_dsa.pub) into that directory:
mkdir -p ~/.skm/keys/key_name cp /path/to/id_rsa /path/to/id_rsa.pub ~/.skm/keys/key_name
Suppose you already have several keys either created or imported.
list command will list them all:
$ skm list key1 key2
Say now we want to use key1. Simply run
skm use key1, then the keys in
~/.skm/keys/key1 will be copied to
~/.ssh to make the keys valid. After doing some works, if you run
skm use key2, the keys in
~/.skm/keys/key2 will be copied to
~/.ssh, which makes
OK, suppose you have two accounts hare and tortoise on some website, which requires different keys for each account. Then you need two keys:
skm create hare skm create tortoise
Let’s list them:
$ skm list hare tortoise
Then you could switch them by
skm use hare or
skm use tortoise.
Different Hosts with Different Keys
Besides all I’ve written above, if you still need to connect to some hosts with some specific keys, you can still take advantage of
~/.ssh/config. For example, you could have something like this in
~/.ssh/config (the example is taken from this post with slight modifications):
Host github.com User git Hostname github.com PreferredAuthentications publickey IdentityFile ~/.skm/keys/git/id_rsa Host fedoraproject.org Hostname fedoraproject.org PreferredAuthentications publickey IdentityFile ~/.skm/keys/fedoraproject/id_rsa Host fedorapeople.org Hostname fedorapeople.org PreferredAuthentications publickey IdentityFile ~/.skm/keys/fedoraproject/id_rsa