Stubborn Code

Digital Ocean Basic Droplet Setup
Posted on 24 June, 2020 4 mins to read 7 mins to watch

tl;dw If you prefer a text version keep on reading!

This tutorial guides you through a basic Ubuntu 18.0.4 droplet setup on Digital Ocean.


If you haven't already, create a droplet on Digital Ocean

In order to follow this tutorial, you need to select the Ubuntu distribution for your server.

Every other option is up to you.

This tutorial went with the following options:

In order to connect to your droplet, you need a console emulator.

I'm on Windows, so I use cmder, which is based on ConEmu. You can use one of these two if you are on Windows, or the native Terminal app if you're on a Mac or a Linux computer.

Copy the IP address of your newly created droplet and open your console emulator of your choice.

Using the command below connect to your server:

$ ssh root@ip_address_of_your_droplet_that_you_copied_from_digital_ocean

If it's your first time connecting to your droplet, you'll be faced with a message about the authenticity of the host. Select 'yes' to continue and enter the password you chose when you created the droplet.

For security reasons, we are going to add a new user. The root user has many privileges, but with many privileges, come great responsibilities, so it's better to avoid using the root account on a daily basis.

We create a new user with the following command:

$ adduser username_of_your_choice

Enter a password and optionally add information for your new user.

This tutorial created an account with the username stubborn_code, so the rest of the guide is going to use that.

While, we don't want to use a root account as our main account, we sometimes need root privileges. To do that we can add this user to the group of sudoers. Users that belong to this group can execute commands that require root rights by using sudo in front of the command.

Enter the following command to add our user to the group of sudoers:

$ usermod -aG sudo stubborn_code

The -a flag means append and the -G flag means group. Used together we append to a group, in this case the sudo group.

We now want to add public key authentication in order to secure our server.

To do that, you generate a public key on your local machine, which you then copy to your server.

Your server holds the public keys of the devices that can connect to it, so other devices can't connect to it. If you want to use additional devices to connect to your server, make sure that you repeat the procedure and copy their keys to your server.

The following command generates an SSH key pair:

$ ssh-keygen

On Windows, you will probably see something like this:

Generating public/private rsa key pair.
Enter file in which to save the key (C:\Users\windows_username/.ssh/id_rsa):

You can also choose to select a passphrase. In that case, you need to copy the key and you also need the passphrase every time you need to connect to your server.

If you press enter, you will generate a private key, id_rsa and a public key, which you need to copy to your droplet in the .ssh directory of the local user.

To copy your public key to the server, you can either:

The first way is simpler and you only need to type the following:

$ ssh-copy-id droplet_username@droplet_ip

If you need to manually copy the key, you can use the following command on your local machine:

$ cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh droplet_username@droplet_ip "cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys"

This will copy the contents from your public key on your local machine, connect to your server and paste the key in an 'authorized_keys' file in the .ssh folder of your droplet user.

If the directory .ssh has not been created, which is more probable if you just created the droplet, you can use the command below that will create the directory before pasting the key:

$ cat ~/.ssh/ | ssh user@ "mkdir ~/.ssh; cat >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys"

We can disable the password authentication and enable public key authentication.

To do that, we use the following command that gives us access to the sshd server configuration file:

$ sudo nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Click ctrl-X and select 'yes' to save the file.

In order to test the login, without logging out open a new tab and try to connect to your account. If all went well, you will be able to connect to your server without a password.

Last thing we need to do is enable the ufw firewall.

On your server, enter the following command:

$ sudo ufw app list

You should see OpenSSH under Available applications.


$ sudo ufw allow OpenSSH

to allow incoming SSH connections and

$ sudo ufw enable

to enable the firewall.

And that's it!

You have now setup a basic droplet on Digital Ocean!