Getting started with Pageant

Pageant is an SSH authentication agent that you can use for Putty and Filezilla. Before you run Pageant, you need to have a private key in PKK format (filename ends on .pkk). See our page on generating keys with PuTTY to find out how to generate and use one. When you run Pageant, it will put an icon of a computer wearing a hat into the System tray. It will then sit and do nothing, until you load a private key into it. If you click the Pageant icon with the right mouse button, you will see a menu. Select ‘View Keys’ from this menu. The Pageant main window will appear. (You can also bring this window up by double-clicking on the Pageant icon.) The Pageant window contains a list box. This shows the private keys Pageant is holding. When you start Pageant, it has no keys, so the list box will be empty. After you add one or more keys, they will show up in the list box.

To add a key to Pageant, press the ‘Add Key’ button. Pageant will bring up a file dialog, labelled ‘Select Private Key File’. Find your private key file in this dialog, and press ‘Open’. Pageant will now load the private key. If the key is protected by a passphrase, Pageant will ask you to type the passphrase. When the key has been loaded, it will appear in the list in the Pageant window.

Now start PuTTY (or Filezilla) and open an SSH session to a site that accepts your key. PuTTY (or Filezilla) will notice that Pageant is running, retrieve the key automatically from Pageant, and use it to authenticate. You can now open as many PuTTY sessions as you like without having to type your passphrase again.

When you want to shut down Pageant, click the right button on the Pageant icon in the System tray, and select ‘Exit’ from the menu. Closing the Pageant main window does not shut down Pageant.

You can find more info in the on-line manual.

SSH authentication agents are very handy as you no longer need to type your passphrase every time that you try to log in to the cluster. It also implies that when someone gains access to your computer, he also automatically gains access to your account on the cluster. So be very careful and lock your screen when you're not with your computer! It is your responsibility to keep your computer safe and prevent easy intrusion of your VSC-account due to an obviously unprotected PC!

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