Redhat machine acquired at auction, need to reset passwords
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If you acquired the computer at an auction then the data on it will be of no use to you anyway, so why not just re-install the operating system from scratch? If you want to reset the root password, use a Linux LiveCD and have a look at Google for the procedure. It's pretty well documented, there are even threads here on LQ that explain it.
If you perform a clean install then you don't need the root password at all since you'd be setting up a new system and during installation you'll be asked to set a root password. In my opinion you can just perform a clean install, unless if the BIOS is password protected, then it's a whole different ball game. But if you're referring to the systems password, then just reinstall the thing with a distro of your choice and you're good to go.
Have you tried to boot from a CD yet? The BIOS password is only necessary if for example booting from CD is deactivated. If you can boot from CD then you can perform a clean install on the machine. Can you try that first? Or does it ask you a BIOS password even before booting?
To EricTRA - Using the ubuntu .iso can I install as is? Without first blowing away the existing Redhat?
If you burn the iso to CD/DVD and you can boot from it, you can install Ubuntu, either wiping the installed distro (using entire disk) or you can have it use the free space on the disk and make it a dual boot.