How to create a chroot ssh user in Ubuntu

On my server I want to create accounts that can do SSH in a chroot environment. On the internet I searched for tools and I found Jailkit. In this post I will tell how I installed Jailkit on Ubuntu server 9.10, created a jail and how users are added to the jail. Note that most commands in this tutorial should be executed as su or sudo.

Jailkit installation

First I installed Jailkit by using the following commands:

# cd /tmp
# wget
# tar -zxvf jailkit-2.11.tar.gz
# cd jailkit-2.11
# ./configure
# make
# make install

Setting up the jail

Now it’s time to set up the jail directory. Jailed users will see this directory as the root directory of the server. I chose to use /home/jail:

# mkdir /home/jail
# chown root:root /home/jail

By using the jk_init command you can set up the jail. In this tutorial the basicshell, netutils, ssh and limited shell are installed:

# jk_init -v /home/jail basicshell
# jk_init -v /home/jail netutils
# jk_init -v /home/jail ssh
# jk_init -v /home/jail jk_lsh

Add a user

Add a new user with a home directory and bash shell, and don’t forget to change the password:

# useradd -d /home/testuser -m testuser -s /bin/bash
# passwd testuser

Now it’s time to jail this user, use the following command:

# jk_jailuser -m -j /home/jail testuser

Your /etc/passwd should contain something like this now:


Enable bash

By using jk_cp the bash libraries are be copied to the jail:

# jk_cp -v -f /home/jail /bin/bash

Now edit the /home/jail/etc/passwd file and make sure it contains something like this:


Also make sure the group exists in /home/jail/etc/group:


Now try to login with testuser. Look for errors in /var/log/auth.log.


By using jk_update updates on the real system can be updated in the jail. A dry-run will show what’s going on:

# jk_update -j /home/jail -d

Without the -d argument the real update is performed. More maintenance operations can be found here.


Make sure the jailed user has a home directory in /home/jail/home. If not create one:

# mkdir -p /home/jail/home/testuser
# chown testuser:testuser /home/jail/home/testuser


Source by Marthijn