The autossh systemd service uses configuration files from the /etc/autossh directory. Each configuration file should define a single variable OPTIONS, which contains all command line options to pass to the respective autossh service instance. The configuration file is the name of the service instance suffixed with .conf, for example autossh@myconnection.service loads its configuration from the /etc/autossh/myconnection.conf file. For example (all on one line, wrapped here for readability): OPTIONS=-M 0 -NT -o "ServerAliveInterval 60" -o "ServerAliveCountMax 3" -l autossh -i /path/to/id_rsa -L 7474: Note that it is not necessary to configure everything related to the actual connection in $OPTIONS, instead just as with regular ssh(1) use, the -F option can be used there to load them from separate configuration files. For example: OPTIONS=-M 0 -N -F /path/to/myconnection_ssh_config The services run as the autossh user by default. This means that functionality requiring root access, for example forwarding local privileged ports, is not available to them. If root functionality is required, it can be accomplished through the systemd unit override mechanisms, see systemd.unit(5).