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Old 12-08-2007, 07:54 PM   #1
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Distribution: debian etch
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Recovering root password in debian with grub bootloader

Hi, all!

I'm trying to recover the root password for a linux installation that I did about three months ago. Lost the slip of paper... anyway, I've found a couple of solutions online involving editing the line containing "kernel" in the grub loader. The first one suggested adding "single" to the end of that line; but when I did that, the system prompted me for the root password so that I could perform maintenance. Doh!

The second solution I found was to add "init=/bin/sh" to the end of the same "kernel" line. I did this, and it seemed to drop me into a shell. The next step was to "mount -orw,remount /". I did this, then typed "passwd", at which point I was informed that the shell did not recognize the command "passwd". This is when I realized I was out of my league. I typed "exec init," signed online, and made this post. If anyone could help me with this, I'd really appreciate it.

Incidentally, am I at risk because I forgot to "mount -oro,remount /" before "exec init"? Is all my system open for writing now?

Thanks in advance for any help!
Old 12-08-2007, 07:58 PM   #2
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maybe try /usr/bin/passwd or wherever the command is located...
Old 12-08-2007, 09:02 PM   #3
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Thanks! I looked up the passwd command through google, and found that it is indeed supposed to be located in /usr/bin. Unfortunately, the shell tells me that that directory doesn't even exist! I swear, this is a functional installation -- I'm using it to submit these posts and everything. Does anyone have any more ideas? Is it possible that there's no /usr/bin because I'm "logged in" as root when I init the system in this way?
Old 12-09-2007, 12:17 AM   #4
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When your boot screen appears, press an up arrow key to suspend it. You'll notice a line near to bottom of the screen that contains the word "Boot options". You can now type a command on that line so type,
press enter and when the text stops scrolling you should be presented with a blinking cursor. You then type
Press enter and you will then be prompted for a new root password. Type it in and press enter. You'll be asked to reenter it. Do so and press enter again. After you've done that -ctrl-alt-del restarts the computer.
Hope this works on your system. I've only used it on SUSE 10.3.
Good luck !
Old 12-09-2007, 12:23 AM   #5
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See if you can edit the /etc/shadow file then on the line that starts with root: delete everything between the : after root to the next : then save the file that part is the password next time you boot the root password would be blank so you can set a new one alternatively boot with a live CD like Knoppix mount your / partition read/write then edit the shadow file that way.


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