OpenSSH 8.8, RSA keys, and Gerrit

Clark Boylan cboylan at
Thu Oct 14 16:04:51 UTC 2021


About a year ago Fedora 33 released and gave us a preview of OpenSSH's sha1 + RSA key deprecation fallout. Fedora 33 users noticed they could no longer use SSH RSA keys to connect to our Gerrit at This happens because Fedora 33's OpenSSH packaging has deprecated sha1 hashes for RSA, and despite both the client and server supporting rsa-sha2-* variants they couldn't negotiate their use between them. OpenSSH 8.8 released recently and did similar in the upstream software which means users with up to date OpenSSH installations are noticing similar problems (Arch Linux for example).

There are a couple of workarounds that you can use. Probably the best option is to use an ed25519 or ecdsa key with our Gerrit. Modern clients and our Gerrit SSHD negotiate these keys without issue. Less optimal is to manually re-enable the use of the ssh-rsa hash, but we recommend against this as your software providers have decided this is no longer secure enough.

On our end we've brought this up with the MINA SSHD devs [0] with the hope that the SSH implementation that Gerrit uses can be updated to negotiate the sha2 hashes properly. Also, the rsa-sha2 RFC indicates [1] clients may fallback to a sha2 variant instead of the sha1 variant which would workaround MINA's lack of support for negotiation in the protocol. If you are an OpenSSH>=8.8 or Fedora>=33 user you might consider filing bugs against your ssh clients to change the default fallback to a sha2 variant on your platforms.


Hopefully I've put enough keywords in this email that the various search engines will index it, and the next time someone runs into these problems they'll find this explanation.


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