SSH Troubleshooting

StackStorm remote actions use the system_user and ssh_key_file specified in the configuration file (/etc/st2/st2.conf) to authenticate to remote boxes. The default username is stanley, and the default ssh_key_file is /home/stanley/.ssh/stanley_rsa.

This can be changed by modifying these values in /etc/st2/st2.conf.

In case of key compromise occurring, revoking the public key for system_user from target boxes will revoke access for StackStorm.


If you are changing system_user or ssh_key_file configuration values in /etc/st2/st2.conf, you must restart StackStorm for your changes to take effect. You can just restart the st2actionrunner component, e.g. sudo service st2actionrunner restart.

To validate remote actions are working correctly, you can use the following command:

# Default run
$st2 run core.remote cmd=whoami hosts=localhost
id: 55dff0bd32ed356c736318b0
status: succeeded
    "localhost": {
        "succeeded": true,
        "failed": false,
        "return_code": 0,
        "stderr": "",
        "stdout": "stanley"

If you don’t have the right SSH key file, you will see an error and the action will fail:

st2 run core.remote cmd=whoami hosts=localhost
id: 583e2282d9d7ed38c78b50eb
status: failed
  cmd: whoami
  hosts: ma-box
  username: putin
  error: "Unable to connect to any one of the hosts: [u'ma-box'].

  "ma-box": {
    "failed": true,
    "traceback": "Traceback (most recent call last):\n  File \"/mnt/src/storm/st2/st2common/st2common/runners/\", line 243, in _connect\n    client.connect()\n  File \"/mnt/src/storm/st2/st2common/st2common/runners/\", line 138, in connect\n    self.client = self._connect(host=self.hostname, socket=self.bastion_socket)\n  File \"/mnt/src/storm/st2/st2common/st2common/runners/\", line 634, in _connect\n    raise SSHException(msg)\nSSHException: Error connecting to host ma-box with connection parameters {'username': u'putin', 'key_filename': '/home/stanley/.ssh/id_rsa', 'allow_agent': False, 'hostname': u'ma-box', 'look_for_keys': False, 'timeout': 60, 'port': 22}.Paramiko error: not a valid EC private key file.\n",
    "timeout": false,
    "succeeded": false,
    "stdout": "",
    "stderr": "",
    "error": "Connection error. Error connecting to host ma-box with connection parameters {'username': u'stanley', 'key_filename': '/home/stanley/.ssh/id_rsa', 'allow_agent': False, 'hostname': u'ma-box', 'look_for_keys': False, 'timeout': 60, 'port': 22}.Paramiko error: not a valid EC private key file.",
    "return_code": 255
  traceback: "  File "/mnt/src/storm/st2/st2actions/st2actions/container/", line 90, in _do_run
  File "/mnt/src/storm/st2/st2common/st2common/runners/", line 145, in pre_run
    self._parallel_ssh_client = ParallelSSHClient(**client_kwargs)
  File "/mnt/src/storm/st2/st2common/st2common/runners/", line 61, in __init__
    connect_results = self.connect(raise_on_any_error=raise_on_any_error)
  File "/mnt/src/storm/st2/st2common/st2common/runners/", line 91, in connect
    raise NoHostsConnectedToException(msg)

By default, all actions that use remote commands or scripts will use this username and private_key combination.

If you are not using the default SSH port 22, you can specify the port as part of the host string in the hosts list, e.g. hosts=localhost:55,st2build001:56. As of StackStorm version 2.1, you can also specify custom ports via an SSH config file.

To use an SSH config file, setup /home/stanley/.ssh/config for user stanley on the StackStorm action runner boxes, and add the following configuration lines in /etc/st2/st2.conf:

use_ssh_config = True
ssh_config_file_path = /home/stanley/.ssh/config

We do not recommend running actions as arbitrary user + private_key combinations. This would require you to setup private_key for the users on StackStorm action runner boxes and the public keys of the users in target boxes. This increases the risk surface area and is discouraged.

However, if you have st2client installed and you want to run one-off commands on the remote boxes as a different user, you can use:

$st2 run core.remote cmd=whoami hosts=localhost username=test_user private_key=/home/stanley/ssh_keys/.ssh/id_rsa
id: 55dff0de32ed356c736318b9
status: succeeded
    "localhost": {
        "succeeded": true,
        "failed": false,
        "return_code": 0,
        "stderr": "",
        "stdout": "test_user"

For the above example to work, the key file /home/stanley/ssh_keys/.ssh/id_rsa has to be available on the action runner boxes. We also support password as a parameter. As of version 2.1, you can also specify custom keys for hosts via SSH config file. A sample SSH config is shown below:

Host st2-ssh-test001
  User lakshmi
  IdentityFile /home/vagrant/.ssh/lakshmi_id_rsa

Host *secret-box
  port 55

If you are running remote actions as sudo, pseudo tty is enabled by default. This means that stdout and stderr streams get combined into one and reported as stdout.

When using a bastion host for running remote actions, the bastion host must have AllowTcpForwarding enabled. Additionally, the connection to the bastion host is made using the parameters provided for the connection being tunneled, so the bastion host will require the user to exist with the same name/password/private_key as the targeted remote box.