Use GitHub teams to manage system user accounts and authorized_keys
Clone or download
osterman and goruha Explain How to Generate Personal Access Token (#27)
* Explain how to generate Personal Access Token

* Change way docker compose installs

* Change way docker compose installs

* Fix lint error
Latest commit 06a89c9 Oct 9, 2017
Failed to load latest commit information.
api Release Tiny Alpine 3.5 Docker Image (#24) May 23, 2017
cmd More Verbose Output (#9) Jan 7, 2017
config More Verbose Output (#9) Jan 7, 2017
contrib Cleanup Documentation (#13) Mar 22, 2017
docs Explain How to Generate Personal Access Token (#27) Oct 9, 2017
jobs Explain How to Generate Personal Access Token (#27) Oct 9, 2017
key_storages Release Tiny Alpine 3.5 Docker Image (#24) May 23, 2017
kubernetes REST API for Authorized Keys (#4) Dec 13, 2016
model/linux Check if Linux User Exists Using Lowercase Name (#20) Mar 28, 2017
server Lowercase Usernames (#18) Mar 22, 2017
.editorconfig Implement build-harness support (#11) Jan 23, 2017
.github-authorized-keys-demo.default.yml Use Pager for GitHub API calls (#22) Apr 20, 2017
.github-authorized-keys-tests.default.yml Implement Github SSH Logins (#1) Dec 1, 2016
.gitignore Cleanup Documentation (#13) Mar 22, 2017
.travis.yml Explain How to Generate Personal Access Token (#27) Oct 9, 2017
Dockerfile Release Tiny Alpine 3.5 Docker Image (#24) May 23, 2017
LICENSE Add Apache 2.0 Software License (#5) Dec 13, 2016
Makefile Release Tiny Alpine 3.5 Docker Image (#24) May 23, 2017 Explain How to Generate Personal Access Token (#27) Oct 9, 2017
Vagrantfile Etcd cache (#2) Dec 13, 2016
docker-compose-test.yaml Implement Support for Travis CI/CD (#8) Dec 13, 2016
docker-compose-vagrant.yaml Fix Duplication Check for AuthorizedKeysCommand (#17) Mar 22, 2017
docker-compose.yaml REST API for Authorized Keys (#4) Dec 13, 2016
glide.yaml Implement build-harness support (#11) Jan 23, 2017
main.go More Verbose Output (#9) Jan 7, 2017

Github Authorized Keys Build Status

Use GitHub teams to manage system user accounts and authorized_keys.

Go Report Card Coverage Status Docker Pulls GitHub Stars GitHub Issues Contributions Welcome License



  • Automatically provision new users to production servers simply by adding them to a designatd GitHub team (e.g. ssh). Demo
  • No need to keep authorized_keys up to date because keys are pulled directly from API and optionally cached in etcd
  • Immediately revoke SSH access to servers by evicting users from the GitHub team
  • Easy to deploy

End Users


This tool consists of three parts:

  1. User Account / Authorized Keys provisioner which polls GitHub API for users that correspond to a given GitHub Organization & Team using a personal access token. It's responsible for adding or removing users from the system. All commands are templatized to allow it to run on multiple distributions.
  2. Simple read-only REST API that provides public keys for users, which is used by the AuthorizedKeysCommand in the sshd_config; this allows you to expose the service internally without compromising your Github Token. The public SSH access keys are optionally cached in Etcd for performance and reliability.
  3. An AuthorizedKeysCommand script that will curl the REST API for a user's public keys.

Getting Started

By far, the easiest way to get up and running is by using the ready-made docker container. The only dependency is Docker itself. We also provide a Kubernetes Helm Chart. If you run CoreOS or use systemd, there's a sample unit file.

Cloud Posse provides a public image cloudposse/github-authorized-keys that is built using TravisCI or you can build your own from source.

docker build -t cloudposse/github-authorized-keys .

Running GitHub Authorized Keys

All arguments can be passed both as environment variables or command-line arguments, or even mix-and-match them to suit your tastes.

Available configuration options:

Environment Variable Argument Description Default
GITHUB_API_TOKEN --github-api-token GitHub API Token (read-only)
GITHUB_ORGANIZATION --github-organization GitHub Organization Containing Team
GITHUB_TEAM --github-team GitHub Team for Membership to Grant SSH Access
GITHUB_TEAM_ID --github-team-id GitHub Team ID for Membership to Grant SSH Access
SYNC_USERS_GID --sync-users-gid Default Group ID (aka gid) of users
SYNC_USERS_GROUPS --sync-users-groups Default "Extra" Groups
SYNC_USERS_SHELL --sync-users-shell Default Login Shell /bin/bash
SYNC_USERS_ROOT --sync-users-root chroot path for user commands /
SYNC_USERS_INTERVAL --sync-users-interval Interval used to update user accounts 300
ETCD_ENDPOINT --etcd-endpoint Etcd endpoint used for caching public keys
ETCD_TTL --etcd-ttl Duration (in seconds) to cache public keys 86400
ETCD_PREFIX --etcd-prefix Prefix for public keys stored in etcd github-authorized-keys
LISTEN --listen Bind address used for REST API :301
INTEGRATE_SSH --integrate-ssh Flag to automatically configure SSH false
LOG_LEVEL --log-level Ccontrol the logging verbosity. info

Quick Start

We recommend that you specify all parameters as environment variables. If using docker, pass the environment file to the container using the --env-file argument.

Obtain the GitHub API Token (aka Personal Access Token) here. Click "Generate new token" and select read:org. That's it!

Personal Access Token Permissions

For example, /etc/github-authorized-keys, might look like this:


Then you could start it like this:

docker run \
  --volume /:/host \
  --expose "" \
  --env-file /etc/github-authorized-keys \

IMPORTANT Remember to expose the REST API so you can retrieve user's public keys. Only public keys belonging to users found in the GitHub team will be returned.

Note: depending on your OS distribution, you might need to tweak the command templates. Keep reading for details.

Usage Examples

Automatically Configure SSH

To leverage the github-authorized-keys API, we need to make a small tweak to the sshd_config.

This can be done automatically by passing the --integrate-ssh flag (or setting INTEGRATE_SSH=true)

After modifying the sshd_config, it's necessary to restart the SSH daemon. This happens automatically by calling the SSH_RESTART_TPL command. Since this differs depending on the OS distribution, you can change the default behavior by setting the SSH_RESTART_TPL environment variable (default: /usr/sbin/service ssh force-reload). Similarly, you might need to tweak the AUTHORIZED_KEYS_COMMAND_TPL environment variable to something compatible with your OS.

Manually Configure SSH

If you wish to manually configure your sshd_config, here's all you need to do:

AuthorizedKeysCommand /usr/bin/authorized-keys
AuthorizedKeysCommandUser root

Then install a wrapper script to /usr/bin/authorized-keys.

Note: this command requires curl to access the REST API in order to fetch authorized keys

Etcd Fallback Cache

The REST API supports Etcd as cache for public keys. This mitigates any connectivity problems with GitHub's API. By default, the caching is disabled.

Command Templates

Due to the vast differences between OS commands, the defaults provided might not work for you flavor of Linux.

Below are some of the settings which can be tweaked.

Environment Variable Description Default
LINUX_USER_ADD_TPL Command used to add a user to the system when no default group supplied. adduser {username} --disabled-password --force-badname --shell {shell}
LINUX_USER_ADD_WITH_GID_TPL Command used to add a user to the system when a default primary gid supplied . `adduser {username} --disabled-password --force-badname --shell {shell} --gid {gid
LINUX_USER_ADD_TO_GROUP_TPL Command used to add the user to secondary groups adduser {username} {group}
LINUX_USER_DEL_TPL Command used to delete a user from the system when removed the the team deluser {username}
SSH_RESTART_TPL Command used to restart SSH when INTEGRATE_SSH=true /usr/sbin/service ssh force-reload
AUTHORIZED_KEYS_COMMAND_TPL Command used to fetch a user's authorized_keys from REST API /usr/bin/github-authorized-keys

The values in {braces} are macros that will be automatically substituted at run-time.

Macro Description
{username} User's login name
{shell} User's login shell
{group} User's primary group name
{gid} User's primary group id


Got a question?

File a GitHub issue, send us an email or reach out to us on Gitter.


Bug Reports & Feature Requests

Please use the issue tracker to report any bugs or file feature requests.


If you are interested in being a contributor and want to get involved in developing GitHub Authorized Keys, we would love to hear from you! Shoot us an email.

In general, PRs are welcome. We follow the typical "fork-and-pull" Git workflow.

  1. Fork the repo on GitHub
  2. Clone the project to your own machine
  3. Commit changes to your own branch
  4. Push your work back up to your fork
  5. Submit a Pull request so that we can review your changes

NOTE: Be sure to merge the latest from "upstream" before making a pull request!

Here's how to get started...

  1. git clone to pull down the repository
  2. make init to initialize the build-harness
  3. Review the documentation on compiling


APACHE 2.0 © 2016-2017 Cloud Posse, LLC

Licensed to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF) under one
or more contributor license agreements.  See the NOTICE file
distributed with this work for additional information
regarding copyright ownership.  The ASF licenses this file
to you under the Apache License, Version 2.0 (the
"License"); you may not use this file except in compliance
with the License.  You may obtain a copy of the License at

Unless required by applicable law or agreed to in writing,
software distributed under the License is distributed on an
KIND, either express or implied.  See the License for the
specific language governing permissions and limitations
under the License.


GitHub Authorized Keys is maintained and funded by Cloud Posse, LLC. Like it? Please let us know at

We love Open Source Software!

See our other projects or hire us to help build your next cloud-platform.


Erik Osterman
Erik Osterman
Igor Rodionov
Igor Rodionov