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John Friesen
John Friesen

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2 Local machines 1 Dev VM

I recently wanted to connect a new laptop to one of the Azure virtual machines that I use for remote development. I realized this isn't something easy to do within the azure portal and I have limited knowledge in Linux (ubuntu) and SSL. So after I accomplished this I decided to share what I learned.

This blog post isn't just to learn how to connect a local machine to a VM. It will also give you a basic understanding of how to set up an SSH connection


What I am using

1. Create a new VM (Optional)

If you already have a VM you wish to do this on then you can skip this step.
Create a Linux VM in azure. Choose whichever size you need and in this article, I used Ubuntu Release 18.

// TODO az create VM code with ssh keys. what user does it create?
set a user varable to make it easier later $user = "%myuser%"
// TODO remember the user you created for this VM

2. Create new ssh keys on the new local machine

  1. On windows I used this command ssh-keygen -t rsa

  2. I add the path where to store the keys. i used C:\Users\UserName\.ssh\my-vs-code-vm

  3. I then add in my passphrase (this is optional but adds security. If you choose to use it REMEMBER THE PASSPHRASE)

    ssh keygen command execution

    Great now we have our keys.

NOTE: SSH understanding


  • Your new private key
  • This stays on your machine and you need to keep it safe

  • Your new public key
  • This is going onto your VM so your private key has something to unlock... like the ssh connection we want to establish

3. Add your public key to your Azure VM

Here we will be using the azure cli to add our new public key remotely execute commands remotely on our virtual machine.

Specifically, we will be using the az vm run-command.

  1. Make sure you logged in az login.
  2. Make sure you have the right Subscription active. az account show change with az account set -s //*correct subscription guid*//
  3. Get our public key and put it into a variable

$publickey = cat ~/.ssh/

Integrity check!

make sure your $publickey value looks like this:

Publickey Integrity Check

  1. now that we have our public key ready let's send it off to our VM. We need to store our public key in the authorized_keys file for the user we will connect to.

az vm run-command invoke --name my-vs-code-vm --resource-group my-dev-vm-rg --command-id RunShellScript --scripts "echo '$publickey' >> /home/$user/.ssh/authorized_keys"

4. Get ready for SSH connection

  1. We will need the ssh command to make the connection to the VM. The easiest way I generate it is from the Azure portal. all you need to do is add you Private Key Path in the Azure UI:

Get remote connect for add new remote ssh

  1. Copy the command from 4. Run the example command below to connect to your VM.

    • NOTE: you have what you need to just ssh with your local terminal right now but let's keep going.
  2. Now in VS Code open the Command Palette (Ctrl+Shift+P).

  3. Select Remote-SSH: Add New SSH Host... and paste the ssh command we got from azure (if you don't see it you need to make sure you have the extension installed/enabled) // TODO make sure the remote extension is linked

  4. Next you will be prompted to `Select SSH configuration file to update'. I use the first option that will store it under my local user

Select SSH configuration file to update

  1. You will see this pop-up. Select Open Config and change the Host from the ip address to a friendly name like my-vs-code-vm. I highly recommend doing this!

Config file before:

Config file after:

5. Actually do the SSH connection

  1. Open the VS Code Command Palette again (Ctrl+Shift+P).

  2. Select Remote-SSH: Connect to Host... this time and select our config my-vs-code-vm and the rest should be straight forward.

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