ssh "error writing to authentication socket"; ssh-agent or seahorse issue?

Jeffrey F. Bloss jbloss at
Mon Jan 29 22:03:32 UTC 2007

Matt Price wrote:

> some more info on this issue.  I just noticed that I can in fact ssh
> once per session while in gnome (again, I'm running feisty, up to
> date, using gnome/ubuntu-desktop).  However, that single instance
> generates this error:
> Error writing to authentication socket.

This is almost certainly an ssh-agent problem. The "socket" it's
referring to is a file created by ssh-agent. Seeing the name Seahorse
in your posts suggests to me anyway, that there's some conflict as to
where this file is being created or a problem with permissions. I ran
across an identical problem with Seahorse and GnuPG 2.x.

The reason your problem appears "intermittent" is because each
invocation of a shell creates a new socket.  If memory serves, Seahorse
tries to create them in your $HOME, while the "normal" location for them
is in /tmp. For whatever reasons these two philosophies overlap, and
conflict. :(

Oddly enough I had a problem with disconnecting from an SSH session
with ssh-agent or gpg-agent running on the remote machine. Invoking an
'exit' or 'logout' would cause a hang exactly as you describe during
your login attempts. *shrug*

I'd start by perusing /etc/ssh/ssh_config and ~/.ssh/config for
anything *-agent related and commenting it out. Check your ~/.bashrc
and ~/.bash_profile too, maybe even your global bash configs, and you
might as well hit all your gpg/seahorse configuration files while
you're at it too just to be on the safe side. There may be a foul up
with any "pinentry" program that's being called too, so watch for that

Restart your session, and if the problem goes away you can either just
quit using an agent for authentication management like I did, or set
aside some time to sort through all the options and get everything in
"sync" with respect to location, permissions, "stale" socket
management, etc.

Sorry I can't be more help than that, but my personal nirvana was
attained by amputating the problem, not treating it. I'd actually
*rather* enter passwords when they're needed to be honest.  ;)

     _?_      Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend.
    (o o)         Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read.
-oOO-(_)--OOo-------------------------------[ Groucho Marx ]--
    grok!              Registered Linux user #402208
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