ssh, dropbear and git--not quite working well yet

Delbert Franz ddf at
Sat Nov 12 17:08:32 EST 2011

I'm using git on the Ben to bring, via git pull, some small C projects 
from my server.  I do the development on my desktop, push changes to 
the server, then do a git pull vis ssh on the Ben.  Works well except 
I now have to type the password on the server each time and sometimes 
it takes me a few tries with the keyboard on the Ben:( 

So I finally figured out how to generate an RSA public-private key on 
the Ben.  Execute: 

dropbearkey -t rsa -f id_rsa

This puts the private key in id_rsa and the public key is dumped to 
the console, so one has to redirect the output to a file.  

So I put the public key in the .ssh/authorized_keys file on the 
server.  However, and here is the problem: So far as I know, I have to 
give the private key file name each time I invoke ssh.  I was able to 
open a terminal on the server doing the following command.  

ssh -i id_rsa websrv

I did not have to give the password.  However, if the "-i id_rsa" is 
not present, I am asked the password.  

This causes a problem with git because I have not found a way to give 
the -i id_rsa and have git remember that as part of the URL for the 
remote.  Further, there is apparently no place for such a string when 
I request "git pull".  Git just assumes ssh once I cloned that way 
from the server. 

Unless someone can tell me what "magic" location dropbear uses to ssh 
from the Ben to some other machine on the local network or on the 
Internet, I would like to replace dropbear with openssh.  It takes 
more space and probably more RAM (I hope not much more), but it should 
work the way git expects.  

However, when I try to install openssh-client, I get a file conflict 
with what dropbear has already installed.  Can I just remove dropbear 
and then do the install of openssh-client and I imagine a few other 
openssh-xxx packages?  Or will this break somethings so my connection 
to the network is lost?  I don't think it will but I'm asking to 
avoid breaking the ability to connect. 

I would really like to just stick with dropbear if there is some way 
to have it automatically use the correct key when using ssh.  So far I 
have found none.  
Thanks for any clues. 

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