Quickly troubleshoot capistrano issues related to SSH
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exocode Merge pull request #11 from pboling/fixed
I am at the moment out of time to test. Are you able to test it, please?
Latest commit 0e5de7c Apr 2, 2018


Capistrano SSH Doctor

This plugin helps you setup and debug ssh-agent forwarding for Capistrano deployment.

It's created to complement the official capistrano authentication guide.

The following is presumed:

  • you're using git
  • you want to use passwordless ssh to login to the servers
  • you want to use the ssh-agent forwarding strategy for checking out code in the remote repository (btw. good choice, it's a least hassle)

The plugin will report errors (and offer steps to solution) if you deviate from this configuration. The above assumptions should hold true for 98% users.

capistrano-ssh-doctor works only with Capistrano 3+.

Who should use it?

The plugin is made for beginners and users that are not sure if their setup is good, so they want to confirm or debug it.


Put the following in your application's Gemfile:

group :development do
  gem 'capistrano', '~> 3.2.1'
  gem 'capistrano-ssh-doctor', '~> 1.0'

Then run in the console:

$ bundle install

Put the following in Capfile file:

require 'capistrano/ssh_doctor'


This plugin is intended to be used before any deployment task.

In the console run:

$ bundle exec cap production ssh:doctor

A number of checks will be performed and you'll get a report at the end.

Solving Errors

In case there are errors in your setup, specific instructions for next steps will be provided in report output.

Important: errors should be tackled in the order of their output. So, if you get errors 2, 5 and 7 in the report, start by solving error 2.

It is very probable that "solving" one or two initial errors will actually make everything work. A lot of the checks are inter-dependent. So don't be discouraged if you see a lot of the errors in the beginning.

Once you solved a problem, run the ssh:doctor task again to see the progress.

Repeat the process until ssh:doctor task reports success for all the tasks. You're ok with proceeding with the deployment then.


successful report
successful report

example report with errors
report with errors

Which checks are performed?

  1. checks that you're using git as a scm
  2. checks that ssh private key file exists locally
  3. checks if ssh-agent process is running locally
  4. checks that ssh-add process can communicate with ssh-agent
  5. checks that ssh private keys are loaded to ssh-agent
  6. checks that remote code repository is accessible from local machine
  7. checks passwordless ssh login is used for all servers
  8. checks forward_agent capistrano option is set to true for all servers
  9. checks ssh-agent is actually forwared to all the servers
  10. checks remote code repository is accessible from all the servers

You'll see the results for all the checks in the output of ssh:doctor task.

More Capistrano automation?

Check out capistrano-plugins github org.

Contributing and bug reports

If you got stuck at some point and really can't find a solution, please open a github issue and maybe I can help. Also, your problem can be used to improve this plugin and help others.