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(?) The Answer Guy (!)

By James T. Dennis, tag@lists.linuxgazette.net
LinuxCare, http://www.linuxcare.com/

(?) Lost Password

From Joy Higgins on Tue, 18 Jan 2000

My boyfriend put Linux Caldera on the home computer which means the only one left is my work one... I know practically nothing about computers to begin with so be patient okay??

He was making a third user name and for some reason he not only couldn't get into that users desktop (wording? I'm sorry!) and then he found he couldn't log into root either. He tried getting the password but it didn't work...

He called a computer guy that told him it sounds like the computer is now worth the metal it took to make it because of Linux being on it but not accessible and we could purchase a couple thousand dollars of a "password cracker" if we wish... we do not. Is there any way to get roots password because we think it was changed instead of having the third users password entered in (I hope that makes sense to you). Can you help us please? I just want my computer back.


(!) Wow! The "computer guy" your boyfriend called is either a scam artist or an IDIOT.
For the record you can buy my book for less than thirty dollars (U.S.) and the first thing I cover in the "Emergencies" appendix is how to recover from a lost root password. This is also one of the most common FAQs on the comp.unix.admin newsgroup.
For Linux all you have to do is:
1. Reboot
(try [Ctrl]+[Alt]+[Delete])
2. During the LILO prompt type:
(kernel/image name) init=/bin/sh rw
... note that's usually going to be just:
linux init=/bin/sh rw
3. This should start the Linux kernel,
with the root filesystem mounted in read/write mode. The cool thing is that none of your normal init processes (like the gettys that ask for your name and call the login program) will be started.
4. (Maybe) mount your /usr filesystem with a command like:
mount /usr
5. Change your root password with a command like:
6. Flush the cache buffers:
sync; sync; sync
7. (Maybe) unmount /usr:
umount /usr
8. Remount the root fs in readonly mode:
mount -o remount,ro /
9. Let init clean up and reboot the system:
exec /sbin/init 6
... there is a "6" (six) at the end of that command.
That's it. Don't worry about the couple of lines where I said '(Maybe)' --- you can follow those steps too, if you don't understand. The errors from unnecessarily executing those steps are harmless.
You can follow a similar procedure using a "rescue" diskette. However, I'll let you buy my book (or visit http://www.toms.net/rb) for the details on that approach. That book is "Linux System Administration" by M Carling, Stephen Degler, and me (New Riders Publishing).

[ You can read a bit more about the book at the website that's been setup for it:

It's a bit plain as yet, but don't worry, it will get nicer as time goes on. -- Heather ]

Hope that helps. Don't let that "computer guy" near any of your Linux boxes. (Even if he knows quite a bit about MS Windows I wouldn't let him near any of my systems, his advice was horridly uninformed and it sounds like he delivered his misinformation with an air of authority and conviction that exacerbates the problem).

(?) Linux password lost

From Joy Higgins on Tue, 18 Jan 2000

Thank you so much for your quick response!! I'm printing it out and bringing it home... and the "computer guy" isn't getting any more business!

:) Thanks again!


Copyright © 2000, James T. Dennis
Published in The Linux Gazette Issue 50 February 2000
HTML transformation by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

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