sshd failed on config reload

Bug #1771340 reported by Tronde on 2018-05-15
This bug affects 1 person
Affects Status Importance Assigned to Milestone
openssh (Debian)
Fix Released
openssh (Ubuntu)
Karl Stenerud

Bug Description


sshd doesn't check the configuration when reloading.

If a user generates an invalid configuration file, sshd will shut down and not come back up when the user issues a reload.

[Test Case]

$ lxc launch ubuntu:xenial tester
$ lxc exec tester bash

# echo "blah blah" >>/etc/ssh/sshd_config
# systemctl reload sshd
Job for ssh.service failed because the control process exited with error code. See "systemctl status ssh.service" and "journalctl -xe" for details.
# systemctl status ssh.service
● ssh.service - OpenBSD Secure Shell server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/ssh.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: failed (Result: exit-code) since Tue 2018-08-21 18:15:41 UTC; 19s ago

* The service should have checked the config file, failed to reload, but remained active in its current configuration. In this case ssh has shut down.

[Regression Potential]

This code will only trigger on an invalid configuration file (in which case sshd would not load anyway), so there should be no regressions.

[Other Info]

autopkgtest [13:45:46]: test regress: -----------------------]
autopkgtest [13:45:47]: test regress: - - - - - - - - - - results - - - - - - - - - -
regress PASS
autopkgtest [13:45:47]: @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@ summary
regress PASS

[Original Description]

After adding some lines to /etc/ssh/sshd_config I tried to reload the configuration with the command:

sudo systemctl reload sshd

No error message was returned. So I assumed that the sshd was running with the current config. But `sudo systemctl status sshd` told me that the service failed due to a wrong option in /etc/ssh/sshd_config. Please see the following output:

:~$ sudo vim /etc/ssh/sshd_config
:~$ sudo systemctl reload sshd
:~$ sudo systemctl status sshd
● ssh.service - OpenBSD Secure Shell server
   Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/ssh.service; enabled; vendor preset: enabled)
   Active: failed (Result: exit-code) since Di 2018-05-15 10:00:04 CEST; 8s ago
  Process: 12089 ExecReload=/bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
  Process: 7536 ExecStart=/usr/sbin/sshd -D $SSHD_OPTS (code=exited, status=255)
 Main PID: 7536 (code=exited, status=255)

I would expect that a warning or error message is returned when the service fails while reloading it's configuration.

A fix for this behaviour would be appreciated.

ProblemType: Bug
DistroRelease: Ubuntu 16.04
Package: openssh-server 1:7.2p2-4ubuntu2.4
ProcVersionSignature: Ubuntu 3.13.0-112.159-generic 3.13.11-ckt39
Uname: Linux 3.13.0-112-generic x86_64
ApportVersion: 2.20.1-0ubuntu2.17
Architecture: amd64
Date: Tue May 15 10:18:25 2018
InstallationDate: Installed on 2013-01-10 (1950 days ago)
InstallationMedia: Ubuntu-Server 12.04.1 LTS "Precise Pangolin" - Release amd64 (20120817.3)
SourcePackage: openssh
UpgradeStatus: Upgraded to xenial on 2017-03-12 (428 days ago)
mtime.conffile..etc.pam.d.sshd: 2017-03-13T19:59:01.965420

Related branches

Tronde (tronde) wrote :
Tronde (tronde) wrote :

This bug seems to be fixed upstream in a newer version: [Debian Bug report logs - #865770
openssh-server fails to validate configuration before reloading, under systemd](

Maybe it is possible to get a version update in Xenial?!

Andreas Hasenack (ahasenack) wrote :

Confirmed fixed in >= artful. We have two ExecReload items under [Service]:
ExecReload=/usr/sbin/sshd -t
ExecReload=/bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID

tags: added: bitesize
Changed in openssh (Ubuntu):
status: New → Triaged
importance: Undecided → Low

I can confirm this is working in Xenial. After change the sshd_config config and execute a systemctl restart it worked. The ssh.service file have only one ExecReload clause:

ExecStart=/usr/sbin/sshd -D $SSHD_OPTS
ExecReload=/bin/kill -HUP $MAINPID

Andreas Hasenack (ahasenack) wrote :

The issue is reload, not restart.

You should:
- get a working normal sshd_config
- issue reload, confirm it works
- add an invalid option to sshd_config
- issue reload

The broken system will kill sshd, whereas the fixed one will refuse to reload but sshd will still be running.

Changed in openssh (Ubuntu):
assignee: nobody → Karl (kstenerud)
description: updated
description: updated
description: updated
Andreas Hasenack (ahasenack) wrote :

marking as fix released in the devel task, since the fix is in cosmic.

Changed in openssh (Ubuntu):
status: Triaged → Fix Released
assignee: Karl (kstenerud) → nobody
Changed in openssh (Ubuntu):
status: Fix Released → In Progress
status: In Progress → Fix Released
Changed in openssh (Ubuntu Xenial):
status: New → In Progress
assignee: nobody → Karl (kstenerud)
Changed in openssh (Ubuntu Xenial):
importance: Undecided → Low
Brian Murray (brian-murray) wrote :

Could you provide links indicating that this is fixed in both Ubuntu 18.10 and Ubuntu 18.04? Thanks in advance.

Hello Tronde, or anyone else affected,

Accepted openssh into xenial-proposed. The package will build now and be available at in a few hours, and then in the -proposed repository.

Please help us by testing this new package. See for documentation on how to enable and use -proposed. Your feedback will aid us getting this update out to other Ubuntu users.

If this package fixes the bug for you, please add a comment to this bug, mentioning the version of the package you tested and change the tag from verification-needed-xenial to verification-done-xenial. If it does not fix the bug for you, please add a comment stating that, and change the tag to verification-failed-xenial. In either case, without details of your testing we will not be able to proceed.

Further information regarding the verification process can be found at . Thank you in advance!

Changed in openssh (Ubuntu Xenial):
status: In Progress → Fix Committed
tags: added: verification-needed verification-needed-xenial
Changed in openssh (Debian):
status: Unknown → Fix Released
Tronde (tronde) wrote :

Hi there,

I tested version 1:7.2p2-4ubuntu2.5 from proposed but the issue still exists. Behavior is exactly as before.


tags: added: verification-failed-xenial
removed: verification-needed-xenial
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