Install / Setup Google Authenticator in Ubuntu 13.04, 12.04

August 4, 2013 — 2 Comments

This simple tutorial is going to show you how to install and setup Google Authenticator to secure your Ubuntu SSH remote login by two-factor authentication.

Google provides this application for various smartphone platforms. With it, you can secure your account by logging in with a frequently-changing authentication code. So far, I’m using this in WordPress Login, Ubuntu Server SSH Login, Linode VPS Login. As I know, Google Authenticator also works on Amazon Web Services,, Dropbox, and more.

Install Google Authenticator in Ubuntu:

Since Ubuntu 12.04 Precise, the Google Authenticator PAM module is available in the universe repository by default. Just open Ubuntu Software Center, search for and install libpam-google-authenticator package

google authenticator ubuntu

Once installed, press Ctrl+Alt+T to open terminal. Run below command to create a key and display a QR code which you can scan using the smartphone app. The emergency codes can be used when you don’t have your phone.


google authenticator secret key

To enable two-step authentication for SSH login, add the line “auth required” (witout quotes) into /etc/pam.d/sshd. To do so, run below command in terminal:

sudo sh -c 'echo "auth required" >> /etc/pam.d/sshd'

Also add the line “ChallengeResponseAuthentication yes” (without quotes) to /etc/ssh/sshd_config, you can do it by running below command:

sudo sh -c 'echo "ChallengeResponseAuthentication yes" >> /etc/ssh/sshd_config'

Finally restart SSH service on Ubuntu:

sudo /etc/init.d/ssh restart

I'm a freelance blogger who started using Ubuntu 5+ years ago and wishes to share my experiences and some useful tips with Ubuntu beginners and lovers. Please notify me if you find any typo/grammar/language mistakes. English is not my native language. Contact me on Google Plus or email to

2 responses to Install / Setup Google Authenticator in Ubuntu 13.04, 12.04

  1. Thanks for this tip.

  2. Thanks for the tip. Seems to work fine in Ubuntu 15.10 as well

Leave a Reply


Text formatting is available via select HTML.

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>