Starting sshd: Privilege separation user does not exist

The error message “Starting sshd: Privilege separation user sshd does not exist FAILED” is received on restarting the SSHD service. It indicates that the user ‘sshd’ does not exist. To fix the add the ‘sshd’ user on the server.

If it’s a VPS, your hosting provider can login through the main server and fix it. If it’s a dedicated server, you have to add the user via single user mode unless you were already logged in before the problem occurred.

Add the following to the /etc/passwd file

sshd:x:74:74:Privilege-separated SSH:/var/empty/sshd:/sbin/nologin

add the below line to /etc/group file


Restart the sshd service.

# /etc/init.d/sshd restart
 Stopping sshd: [ OK ]
 Starting sshd: [ OK ]

An alternate solution is to disable UsePrivilegeSeparation in the SSHD configuration. Edit the file /etc/ssh/sshd_config and change

UsePrivilegeSeparation yes
UsePrivilegeSeparation no

It is less secure but just another option.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 5th, 2010 and is filed under Linux Administration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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