ConnectBot cannot import OpenSSH keys

The free open source SSH app ConnectBot allows connecting to SSH servers with port forwarding using public key authentication, including ED25519. Normally a user should create unique SSH public/private keypairs for each device. Sharing keys between devices means if a device is compromised, you delete that key from ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on the SSH server, disabling several other devices also.

Problem

Sometimes it’s necessary to share SSH keypairs on multiple clients. Perhaps the server owner isn’t willing to bother with more than one SSH client key, and you don’t have shell access on SSH login to add another key yourself. ConnectBot has an open issue where it cannot import OpenSSH keys created on a PC.

Workaround

  1. Create an SSH keypair in ConnectBot
  2. Copy the public/private keypair to the PC ~/.ssh directory, perhaps via pasting into a Google Drive document. The stem (filename without extension) of the public and private keys should match. The public key should have a .pub suffix, while the private key has no suffix.

Thereby the same SSH keypair is used on your phone with ConnectBot and your PC with OpenSSH client.

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