Broadly, I'm having problems running drush sql-sync so that I can get a local copy of my dev database. I was getting an "The external command could not be executed due to an application error ... code: 255)" type thing.

To diagnose the problem more specifically, I ran drush @local sql-conf and got

        [driver] => mysql
        [database] => soa
        [username] => drupaluser
        [host] =>
        [port] => 33066

When I then ran drush @dev sql-conf I got

Permission denied (publickey,password).

Running drush @dev sql-conf -s results in

Simulating backend invoke: ssh -o PasswordAuthentication=no [email protected] 'drush  --invoke --simulate --root=/var/www/dev --uri=http://default  sql-conf   --site=sub --env=dev 2>&1' 2>&1

1 Answer 1


Permission denied (publickey,password).

This means the issue isn't with Drush, it's that the server that matches up to your @dev alias doesn't have your SSH public key set up to allow you access. Either your public key hasn't been added to the ~/.ssh/authorized_keys file or the permissions on that file (or the ~/.ssh/ directory) have the wrong settings.

  • Thank you! My id_rsa.pub was definitely copied into autorized_keys...Actually turned out I had rewritten ~/.ssh/config somehow! Cleaned that up and in business.
    – Beatrice
    Sep 27, 2013 at 20:13

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