Mounting Remote Directories With SSHFS On Ubuntu 11.10 - Page 2

4 Using SSHFS As A Regular User


I want to use the local user falko now and mount the remote directory /home/someuser/backup, owned by someuser, to the local directory /home/falko/backup.

Create the user falko, if it doesn't exist:

adduser falko


On server2, create the user someuser, if it does not exist:

adduser someuser

Then become someuser...

su someuser

... and go to someuser's home directory where you create the backup (/home/someuser/backup) directory - make sure it's owned by someuser (it should be anyway as you are running these commands as someuser):

mkdir ~/backup
chown someuser ~/backup

You can leave the someuser account if you like:



First add falko to the fuse group:

adduser falko fuse

Now go to the falko account:

su falko

Create the local /home/falko/backup directory and make sure it's owned by falko (it should be anyway as you are running these commands as falko):

mkdir ~/backup
chown falko ~/backup

Then mount the remote /home/someuser/backup directory to /home/falko/backup (still as user falko) - you can either use a relative or the full path for the remote directory:

sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:backup ~/backup


sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:/home/someuser/backup ~/backup

-o idmap=user makes that it does not matter if the local and the remote system use different user IDs - files owned by the remote user are also owned by the local user. If you don't use this, you might get permission problems.

If you connect to the remote host for the first time, you will see a warning about the authenticity of the remote host (if you have connected to the remote host before using ssh or scp, you will not see the warning). In any case, you will be asked for the someuser password for server2:

falko@server1:~$ sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:backup ~/backup
The authenticity of host ' (' can't be established.
ECDSA key fingerprint is a2:38:f3:df:7a:6c:b6:3c:d6:c3:9c:88:93:e2:f0:63.
Are you sure you want to continue connecting (yes/no)?
<-- yes
[email protected]'s password: <-- server2 someuser password

Let's check if the remote directory got mounted to /home/falko/backup:

falko@server1:~$ mount
/dev/mapper/server1-root on / type ext4 (rw,errors=remount-ro)
proc on /proc type proc (rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev)
sysfs on /sys type sysfs (rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev)
fusectl on /sys/fs/fuse/connections type fusectl (rw)
none on /sys/kernel/debug type debugfs (rw)
none on /sys/kernel/security type securityfs (rw)
udev on /dev type devtmpfs (rw,mode=0755)
devpts on /dev/pts type devpts (rw,noexec,nosuid,gid=5,mode=0620)
tmpfs on /run type tmpfs (rw,noexec,nosuid,size=10%,mode=0755)
none on /run/lock type tmpfs (rw,noexec,nosuid,nodev,size=5242880)
none on /run/shm type tmpfs (rw,nosuid,nodev)
/dev/sda1 on /boot type ext2 (rw)
[email protected]:/home/backup on /backup type fuse.sshfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,max_read=65536)
[email protected]:backup on /home/falko/backup type fuse.sshfs (rw,nosuid,nodev,max_read=65536,user=falko)
df -h
falko@server1:~$ df -h
Filesystem            Size  Used Avail Use% Mounted on
                       29G 1015M   27G   4% /
udev                  238M  4.0K  238M   1% /dev
tmpfs                  99M  212K   99M   1% /run
none                  5.0M     0  5.0M   0% /run/lock
none                  247M     0  247M   0% /run/shm
/dev/sda1             228M   24M  193M  11% /boot
[email protected]:backup
                       29G 1019M   27G   4% /home/falko/backup

Looks good!

To unmount the share, run

fusermount -u ~/backup


fusermount -u /home/falko/backup


4.1 Creating A Private/Public Key Pair On server1

Of course, we don't want to type in a password every time we try to mount the remote share. Therefore we create a private/public key pair and transfer the public key to server2 so that we will not be asked for a password anymore.


Create a private/public key pair on (still as user falko):


falko@server1:~$ ssh-keygen
Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (/home/falko/.ssh/id_rsa):
 <-- ENTER
Enter passphrase (empty for no passphrase): <-- ENTER
Enter same passphrase again: <-- ENTER
Your identification has been saved in /home/falko/.ssh/id_rsa.
Your public key has been saved in /home/falko/.ssh/
The key fingerprint is:
d8:8f:2a:88:d4:7b:c7:81:18:a9:0c:ae:d4:56:de:cf [email protected]
The key's randomart image is:
+--[ RSA 2048]----+
|                 |
|                 |
|    .            |
|.  o . o         |
|+ + = + S        |
| * = o o o       |
|+.... . = .      |
|o .... + E       |
|    ..o          |

It is important that you do not enter a passphrase otherwise mounting will not work without human interaction so simply hit ENTER!

Next, we copy our public key to

ssh-copy-id -i $HOME/.ssh/ [email protected]

Now check on server2 if server1's public key has correctly been transferred:


cat /home/someuser/.ssh/authorized_keys
ssh-rsa AAAAB3NzaC1yc2EAAAADAQABAAABAQDCuhRw7+mXRkdSVNUKSlp3WMxG/uk33TVl6DYOYqBLa1bmgfY7M/YOY6OEgKzZ89FXYBu8VXe/LGN8/zGj2veMo+vbHd7N+M1j5dkubGz8/ISRQNj2sVwecwkMdiwHiDCxC5MSE/8wCQbITjGszZ8sb0P8imVMr9JAkqj8CGLkmgw40cYFiJU9ki6hBR1ie+cb5aplZNs8BoS5z5cc6fI+QIwJpM4FHeyYC5sSpHCjJdltYinhf0pdGXRiPA7Mu623HSB/EIOx/wLc5IXksxyyiY1AtrHFD/4TxCtvdxlv/CiMqOlZd9MuEldBT8GsoFOH5xxxWfXQCTfwwVakuCmD [email protected]

Now back on server1, try to mount the remote share again as user falko (make sure it's unmounted before you run the command):


sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:/home/someuser/backup ~/backup

If all goes well, you should not be prompted for a password:

falko@server1:~$ sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:/home/someuser/backup ~/backup


4.2 Mounting The Remote Share Automatically At Boot Time


If you don't want to mount the remote share manually, it is possible to have it mounted automatically when the system boots (provided you have followed chapter 4.1 because otherwise an automatic mount is not possible because you will be asked for a password). Normally we would modify /etc/fstab to achieve this, but unfortunately the network isn't up yet when /etc/fstab is processed in the boot process, which means that the remote share cannot be mounted.

To circumvent this, we simply add our mount command to /etc/rc.local, which is the last file to be processed in the boot process, and at that time the network is up and running.

You need root privileges to edit /etc/rc.local, so become root first:

vi /etc/rc.local
#!/bin/sh -e
# rc.local
# This script is executed at the end of each multiuser runlevel.
# Make sure that the script will "exit 0" on success or any other
# value on error.
# In order to enable or disable this script just change the execution
# bits.
# By default this script does nothing.

/usr/bin/sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:/home/backup /backup
cd /home/falko && su -c "/usr/bin/sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:/home/someuser/backup /home/falko/backup" falko
exit 0

As you see, I've added the command

cd /home/falko && su -c "/usr/bin/sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:/home/someuser/backup /home/falko/backup" falko

instead of just

/usr/bin/sshfs -o idmap=user [email protected]:/home/someuser/backup /home/falko/backup

because the sshfs command must be run by falko, not root!

You can test now by simply rebooting your system:


After the reboot, you can check with



df -h

if the remote share got mounted.


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