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Linux Set or Change User Password

How do I set or change Linux system password for any user account?

Both Linux and UNIX use the passwd command to change user password. The passwd is used to update a user’s authentication token (password) stored in shadow file.

The passwd changes passwords for user and group accounts. A normal user may only change the password for his/her own account, the super user (or root) may change the password for any account. The administrator of a group may change the password for the group. passwd also changes account information, such as the full name of the user, user's login shell, or password expiry date and interval.

Task: Set or Change User Password

Type passwd command as follows to change your own password:
$ passwd

Changing password for vivek
(current) UNIX password:
Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: password updated successfully

The user is first prompted for his/her old password, if one is present. This password is then encrypted and compared against the stored password. The user has only one chance to enter the correct password. The super user is permitted to bypass this step so that forgotten passwords may be changed.

A new password is tested for complexity. As a general guideline, passwords should consist of 6 to 8 characters including one or more from each of following sets:

  1. Lower case alphabetics
  2. Upper case alphabetics
  3. Digits 0 thru 9
  4. Punctuation marks

Task: Change Password For Other User Account

You must login as root user, type the following command to change password for user vivek:
# passwd vivek

Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:
passwd: password updated successfully


  • vivek - is username or account name.

Task: Change Group Password

When the -g option is used, the password for the named group is changed. In this example, change password for group sales:
# passwd -g sales

The current group password is not prompted for. The -r option is used with the -g option to remove the current password from the named group. This allows group access to all members. The -R option is used with the -g option to restrict the named group for all users.

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{ 61 comments… add one }

  • bambi April 24, 2007, 7:22 am

    Could you help me how to edit the commands before booting in CentOS? I can’t seem to get it right.
    choose the desired OS, in this case CentOS then press e for edit then select the kernel then press e again and type space linuxsingle then enter to accept changes, press b for boot. They told me that a prompt will appear but there is none so that i can type passwd to change the password and username. Pls. help me.

    • ivonne saucedo January 29, 2012, 4:38 pm

      i want to change my user password on my laptop the one i use to log in

  • Rick February 12, 2008, 3:02 am

    thanks this help alot

  • Aloka February 3, 2009, 7:52 am

    I am Aloka . I am student of computer science & I have linux on my machine.
    i forgotten the username & password of it.
    can u help me for this for changing the username & password.
    plz help me.

    • ajit October 12, 2010, 8:05 am

      fist open the window than Alt+Ctrl+f1 after that login passwd and type use name and password

      • niono November 30, 2010, 3:31 am

        I have done the Alt + CTRL + F1, because I’m new user to LINUX how can I know User and the login password?
        I just want to know password for whenever i click on the network, i have to enter a password to continue the next command. n I don’t understand why it kept prompt the command to enter the pass. thanks

    • mansoorali February 24, 2011, 9:50 am

      useradd u1
      passwd u1

  • Andy February 17, 2009, 3:19 am

    Go to linux rescue mode (single user mode) at the boot prompt when the linux image is loaded and reset your password through the prompt.

  • Chloe May 7, 2009, 8:19 pm

    Hey, i want to set my password so that when my linux laptop starts up, my account name comes up and i have to type my password in so that others cannot access my account settings without my password. Help me please!? x

    • shiv January 11, 2014, 6:16 pm

      hi aloka,
      to see the all user name use following command to see all user entries
      tail /etc/passwd and to see passwords use tail /etc/shadow but password encrypted by using MD5 algorithms if you know cryptography and MD5 algorith then you can get your password and also log in as a root and use command
      passwd also u can get ur password

  • Atta May 28, 2009, 9:54 pm


    As a root user I want to reset lost of passwords and want to set each users password with a single command i.e. not have to be asked to type passwords afterwords. So the command needs to include the new password and not require the old one.

    Help would be greatly appreciated

  • Varun September 10, 2009, 8:02 am

    How can I change the root password while I’m only a user of it? Please reply me, as fast as can be.

  • AeSix September 11, 2009, 4:50 am

    Varun use sudo su
    use your user pass
    then run passwd
    if your user account dont have privlages enough to run as su, your sol.

  • UnixOS September 12, 2009, 11:24 am

    AeSix, Don’t you know how can I get or reset password of another user if i am user with limited privilages?! help please….

  • abbakus October 8, 2009, 5:54 pm

    how can i set an UNSECURE password? During installation process i’m able to set an unsecure password, but it isn’t possible once the system is installed. I know it’s a bad
    practice, but i really need to do it.



    • -Pablo- June 28, 2010, 2:39 pm

      Try logging in as root or using $ sudo passwd username
      There you can set whichever password you want, which might not be the case when you run the passwd command as a user.

  • deepak mishra November 16, 2009, 8:39 am

    i ,m forget passwd then i can do

    • shiv January 11, 2014, 6:19 pm

      if u r using personal computer then login as root and change the user password like
      or inform ur administrator(root/superuser) as soon

  • Talib November 18, 2009, 10:09 am

    I am using Cant OS 5.2 with DC & BDC, pls advise if any tool available to monitor it easily from nework.

  • lokesh December 5, 2009, 5:20 am

    hello,can u help me out to find out hw to change the passwd wen previous passwd has been forgotten ??????? u have suggested somebody to go to the rescue mode what dose it mean ,plz describe whole procedure in detail! thanks in anticipation!~

  • Charlie Seah Kam Fei January 28, 2010, 9:26 am

    is there anyway to READ the password of user instead of reset it if I have root access?

  • Charlie January 28, 2010, 9:27 am

    Any files in Linux support that? Thanks in advance

  • G.Shoba June 12, 2010, 4:49 pm

    I want to know how to know d previos password of d super user…how can it be done??
    or change d password of d superuser without having to know d previous one…is dis possible??
    Any help will be greately appritiated…

  • Aamir Ali July 1, 2010, 3:42 pm

    Helpful. Thanks.

  • aisha August 10, 2010, 11:31 pm

    when it says type unix password it doesnt let me type what can i do

    • -Pablo- August 11, 2010, 12:30 am

      It doesn’t show you a caret but just type ahead. Unix terminals work like that when asking for passwords. Supposedly it’s intended to prevent those looking over your shoulder from seeing how long your password is.

      • aisha August 11, 2010, 4:54 pm

        thank you that helped

  • steve August 31, 2010, 11:12 am

    i have created 70 users in Ubuntu using following shell script,

    for i in $(seq 1 70)
    useradd -d/home/te$i -m te$i

    Now i want to set default password say “xyz” to all 70 users (te1 to te70).
    How can I do so?
    thnx in advance

    • NinjaSysadmin June 22, 2011, 2:06 pm

      for i in $(seq 1 70)
      useradd -d/home/te$i -m te$i
      echo $i:xyz | chpasswd
      chage -d 0 $i

      Notice the echo line? You should also set the line after, which tells users to change their password when they login. You can remove this if you wish.

  • dr nandinee October 31, 2010, 7:59 pm

    I m dr nandinee in maharastra forgoten my password plz help me

    • karthi January 31, 2011, 7:55 am

      hello nandini which flavour r u using…..

      • DR. HYDE July 1, 2011, 8:37 am

        Hi Karthi, It’s not important what flavor to use…
        The good flavor comes from the questioner, I need to add your flavor…
        Can you please contact me for the purpose of cooking you in order to extract your flavor?

  • madhusudhana T June 13, 2011, 9:01 am

    set the password by using passwd command how to do in shell scripting

  • Balaviswanathan July 5, 2011, 11:49 am


    Thanks for the information. Could you please help me how to create virtual screens like tty/8 ty/9 etc.

    Thanks in advance

  • satti July 8, 2011, 1:48 pm

    I am satish. I am student of computer science & I have linux on my machine.
    i forgotten the username & password of it.
    can u help me for this for changing the username & password.
    plz help me.

  • sravn August 4, 2011, 6:30 am

    i forgot the forgot to enter into my linux os…. can u help me how to reset it….

  • Ramesh Adapwar December 23, 2011, 10:11 am

    How a user is able to change his own password /etc/shadow file when he doesn’t have even read permission on it?

  • steven March 29, 2012, 5:19 pm

    im lock out of my laptop and i forget the password any suggestions?

  • sachin May 30, 2012, 8:10 am

    Dear sir,
    How to configure password should not contain user’s name / user id in redhat5

  • Paresh August 6, 2012, 3:15 pm

    if normal user can’t read /etc/shadow file then how will they reset own password.

  • Gelo August 7, 2012, 9:56 am

    do any version of linux support this?

    • Saenthan July 5, 2013, 6:09 am


  • Gelo August 7, 2012, 9:59 am

    is it the same on all version of linux?

  • Boyd October 22, 2012, 2:34 pm

    i need a script that can change ALL Redhat Linux (CentOS) email accounts at once to one password.

  • vaibhav kanchan December 5, 2012, 7:11 am

    Which file should I check in centos5 or rhel 5 for commenting out the password history so that I can keep on continuing using same password to login to the server?

  • ranga santhosh April 15, 2013, 4:08 am

    ya its very nice……….. and easy to understand

  • ABUMON September 14, 2013, 4:34 am

    How can be changing your password in LINUX

    • R Carrick November 30, 2014, 9:03 pm

      You need to be logged in, I hope you have your current password, if not then get a local administrator to help you change your current. If you CAN log in, the process is simple, enter the following command at the prompt:


      Then you will be asked for a new password. Enter that, hit return, then it will ask you again for the password (usually it will say re-enter)… enter the same exact password that you just did, and that will change your password. NOTE that some systems require you to use a combination of characters, numbers, upper case, and non alpha-numeric characters. I would stay away from the “#” sign. On some really old systems that is used for backspace. :)

  • Reginaldo September 21, 2013, 2:03 am

    Thank you very much!

  • Hashan Chamikara October 13, 2013, 6:41 am

    Hello dear,

    i need to add active user in single command line.
    when i add user like useradd username -pPWD. but i cant log into linux using new username and password. please help me..

    Thank You

  • Davie November 7, 2013, 9:52 am

    Whenever I enter the new password all I get is authentication token manipulation error password unchanged. What am I doing wrong?

  • parshwa November 24, 2013, 3:44 am

    1. Boot the system and when you see the following message “Press any key to enter the menu”, press any key. (You will see the list of available kernel versions.)

    2. Press e in order to edit commands before booting.

    3. Highlight the list item with vmlinuz in it by using the arrow keys and press e.

    4. Now type single or init 1 at the end of the line.

    5. Then press enter and b to boot the system with the new argument. (The system will boot into single user mode and you will see bash prompt)

    Now it’s time to change the password:
    6. Type passwd

    7. Reboot system

  • parshwa November 24, 2013, 3:46 am

    Forgot to Add:

    To Reset forgotten root password on CentOS/Red Hat

  • Vaishali December 20, 2013, 8:39 am

    This works for me..Thanks.

  • Nimisha March 21, 2014, 3:41 pm


  • sajan June 26, 2014, 2:12 pm

    How to create a password and change password of a user account in VPN.

  • Albin Troja October 11, 2014, 7:32 pm

    help help
    i have password changed, and i have logged without problems, after login is this problem

    this is from root after login

    login as: root
    root@‘s password:
    Last login: Sun Oct 12 01:24:10 2014 from che…123456789ipad01.3.g……s….at
    Changing finger information for root.
    Name [Albin Troja]:
    Office [albabin@l….de]:
    Office Phone [0676123456789]:
    Home Phone [0316010101010]:

    and closed automatically, please help me.

  • sadegh October 15, 2014, 4:42 pm

    Hi. hw can I write a linux over older linux??

  • mahdi December 12, 2014, 5:41 am

    i have problem with root mode when i log in and enter password the Linux say
    what should i do and how the password i found it and change it .??

  • Robert April 1, 2015, 11:41 pm

    Cool tutorial, but how to set a superuser password?

  • Jake April 4, 2015, 3:17 am

    I have no password set, so what do I put in when it asks for what my password is now? And it won’t even let me type in the space provided!

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