Initial Server Setup on CentOS

As I came from Software Engineering background since my first employment, it's my big step to jump in DevOps area. Because at my recent employment, I trusted by the CIO to manage this area. I think all of the knowledge and practice them out, need to be well documented and I remember that I have a blog here. So this is my first time to documented all of the knowledge that I've practice before, in all of the environment (development, staging, sandbox or even production) in my recent employment.

CentOS Logo

I'm starting with the fundamental one, initial server setup with CentOS. This post scoped only in CentOS 7 and I'm using Alibaba Cloud as my cloud provider. Using other Operating System (OS) or cloud provider may need some adjustment to be matched, but I'll describe in general. If you have a trouble during follow this tutorial, don't hesitate to ask in the comment. Go!

Step 1 Add Non-Root User

Once you have created instance, you need to login with root user via web VNC and create non-root user account.
# adduser h3rucutu
Next assign a password to the new user account, repeat it again to verify it.
# passwd h3rucutu
Now we have regular user privileges, but sometimes we need to do administrative tasks. To avoid log out and login with root password, we can setup root privileges for our regular user. This allowing us from regular to run commands with administrative privileges by putting sudo before each command.
To add these privileges to our regular user, we need to add the user into wheel group.
# gpasswd -a h3rucutu wheel
Now the user we have created can run with administrative privileges.

Step 2 Login and Setup Public Key with Non-Root User

First logged in with username, ip public (e.g. of your server and password.
% ssh h3rucutu@
After you successfully connected to your server, we need to change this method, because this method is vulnerable to bruteforce, since our SSH Port is exposed to public.
You need to generate RSA Key Pair in your local machine, you can optionally specify the filename also specify passphrase to strengthen your key (you'll be asked every time you used it if you set the passphrase).
% ssh-keygen -t rsa
Once your RSA Key Pair is generated, copy the public key to the server with ssh-copy-id.
% ssh-copy-id h3rucutu@
After your public key successfully copied to the server, you'll not be asked the password every time you connect to the server, try it!
But actually other person still can use username and password method. You can verify that with command below.
% ssh h3rucutu@ -o PubkeyAuthentication=no
Voila, you still logged in with password method.

Step 3 Configure SSH Daemon

To secure the SSH connection, we need to only accept the public key authentication by configuring SSH Daemon on the server.
$ sudo vi /etc/ssh/sshd_config
Search PasswordAuthentication, change the value into no.
UseDNS no
AddressFamily inet
SyslogFacility AUTHPRIV
PermitRootLogin yes
#PasswordAuthentication yes
PasswordAuthentication no
After that we also need to configure that root user can't logged in via SSH, search PermitRootLogin change the value into no.
UseDNS no
AddressFamily inet
SyslogFacility AUTHPRIV
#PermitRootLogin yes
PermitRootLogin no
#PasswordAuthentication yes
PasswordAuthentication no
Save all the changes and restart the SSH Daemon.
$ sudo systemctl reload sshd
Disconnect and verify that the password authentication method is no longer accepted by the server.
% ssh h3rucutu@ -o PubkeyAuthentication=no
h3rucutu@ Permission denied (publickey,gssapi-keyex,gssapi-with-mic).
Looks Good! Now you're ready to go to deeper setup on CentOS.
Later more on this blog. Stay tune!


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