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There is no way to recover it. But you can boot from live cd, edit your /mnt/yourlinuxpartition/etc/passwd and delete it completely, then restore it with loging in as root (no password) and running 'passwd'. Or if you have sudo installed and configured properly, you can run 'sudo passwd' and enter new root password.
1. Download the Gentoo Minimal CD (any Live CD should work)
2. Boot the CD
3. Mount your partitions. like
mount /dev/hda3 /mnt/comp mount /dev/hda1 /mnt/comp/boot
4. Chroot to the mounted partitions and update the environment
chroot /mnt/comp /bin/bash
As far as your machine is concernced, you are now running linux on your hard drive rather than the Live CD, so just change the password
5. Unmount and reboot
go to the kernel that you want to boot, e (edit) then put 'single' (no quotes) behind it, then enter, the b to boot it. once it's boots then passwd and you're set.
for the lilo, the above will apply. if the distro that you're running won't let you into the edit mode of lilo, then boot with a small live disk, like feather or dsl linux. you can then either mv the old /etc/passwd into place, which i suspect you have, (make a cp of the original one first) and then reboot.
once you learn the tricks, make sure that your buddies don't let you near their boxes on boot.
Lil noob question, but it seems way too easy to reset the root password. Is this not a bit of a security flaw? If I set up a shared computer with Linux, I don't want someone with a little know-how to change the password on me, and then do as he/she pleases.