Home Automation – Enable SSH on Home Assistant

As part of Day 18 of my 100 Days of Learning I wanted to upgrade my Home Assistant setup to run from an external SSD. There is a well known issue that SD cards on Raspberry Pis corrupt after a while and also I didn’t want Home Assistant to fill up the SD card too quickly.

I am running Home Assistant on a Raspberry Pi 3B and I would like to be able to SSH into it. By default the Home Assistant OS does not have SSH enabled and you need to install an add-on to be able to do this.

SSH into the Raspberry Pi 3B

$ ssh homeassistant.local
ssh: connect to host homeassistant.local port 22: Connection refused

You need to install an add-on to get SSH working. But first you need to enable Advanced mode so that extra add-ons can be searched for on the dashboard.

To install the add-on go to the Supervisor Add-on Store and search for ssh.

I am installing the Official "Terminal & SSH" add-on because the community one’s security rating is pretty low.

Enabled the Watchdog and Show in sidebar.

Interestingly this comes with a web terminal.

Remote SSH access from the network is disabled by default. +10 in my book.

I will generate a new SSH key pair to be used only with Home Assistant and this Raspberry Pi.

$ ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -f ~/.ssh/id_rsa_homeassistant -C "Home Assistant RPi"

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase):
Enter same passphrase again:
Your identification has been saved in .ssh/id_rsa_homeassistant.
Your public key has been saved in .ssh/id_rsa_homeassistant.pub.
The key fingerprint is:
SHA256:i0MllcT0ioS/6ab9vD/gsVNOmnMBCYrP17w4gBS4QuY Home Assistant RPi
The key's randomart image is:
+---[RSA 4096]----+
| .     ++.       |
|.o.  ...o.       |
|+. o..o....      |
|oEo .o +o.       |
|.. +  +oS.       |
|  . +..+=.+      |
|     o=o.@ .     |
|     o+oO +      |
|    .ooo+*..     |

# Added this to my Mac's keychain
$ ssh-add -K ~/.ssh/id_rsa_homeassistant

Added the newly created id_rsa_homeassistant and .pub file to my password manager.

Interestingly enough I have always wondered about what this randomart is about and it turns out that it is supposed to be a visual way for humans to identify if the server you are connecting to is what you would expect. However I have never seen this other than during the key generation phase.

Configure the SSH server. Go to the Configuration tab for the add-on.

# First you will need to copy the PUBLIC key
$ cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa_homeassistant.pub | pbcopy

Add the public key to the authorized_keys section and save. To expose the port from the docker container to the host OS enter a port number in the Network section and save.

Check the log tab to confirm it is working on Home Assistant.

[10:37:38] INFO: Starting the SSH daemon...
Server listening on port 22.
Server listening on :: port 22.

Connect using SSH. I like to have a SSH key pair per host I connect to and thus for the initial test connection I specify the key to use (option -i) before I add this to my ~/.ssh/config file. Because of my config I need to also tell ssh to use the publickey or the connections will be denied. As a bonus I figured I would give this visual randomart thing a try as well (-o VisualHostKey=yes).

$ ssh -i ~/.ssh/id_rsa_homeassistant -o PreferredAuthentications=publickey -o VisualHostKey=yes root@homeassistant.local
Host key fingerprint is SHA256:A98IsXgCboFFWUTG64OclRgiH0uMsSaUCpIaV5NJ9Ds
+---[ECDSA 256]---+
|.X*XXo.          |
|@+B+++ o         |
|OBo=oo*          |
|=.+ +o = o       |
| . =  E S .      |
|  + o  . .       |
|     .           |
|                 |
|                 |

| |  | |                          /\           (_)   | |            | |
| |__| | ___  _ __ ___   ___     /  \   ___ ___ _ ___| |_ __ _ _ __ | |_
|  __  |/ _ \| '_ \ _ \ / _ \   / /\ \ / __/ __| / __| __/ _\ | '_ \| __|
| |  | | (_) | | | | | |  __/  / ____ \\__ \__ \ \__ \ || (_| | | | | |_
|_|  |_|\___/|_| |_| |_|\___| /_/    \_\___/___/_|___/\__\__,_|_| |_|\__|

Welcome to the Home Assistant command line.

System information
  IPv4 addresses for eth0:
  IPv6 addresses for eth0:  fe80::4dbc:b38d:4441:bf58/64
  IPv4 addresses for wlan0:

  OS Version:               Home Assistant OS 5.12
  Home Assistant Core:      2021.3.4

  Home Assistant URL:       http://homeassistant.local:8123
  Observer URL:             http://homeassistant.local:4357
~ $

Ok that worked so I can now add it to my ~/.ssh/config so that the command just becomes ssh root@homeassistant.local from now on.

# ~/.ssh/config

# Home Assistant running on Rasperry Pi
Host homeassistant.local
	HostName homeassistant.local
	PreferredAuthentications publickey
	IdentityFile ~/.ssh/id_rsa_homeassistant
	IdentitiesOnly yes
	Port 22

After that worked I changed the port number in the Configuration tab as well as my ~/.ssh/config file. I rarely use default ports.

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