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I faced same problem in Debian 4 and could not add user from the root login when I had selected "single user login" at the boot screen of Grub. But when I did 'startx', it took me to GUI and there I could add the user.
You could also try this.
1. On booting login to single user mode.
2. When you are at terminal, now login as root.
3. Run "startx"
4. Try doing the settings you want.