Linux reset forgotten root password

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Q. I forgot my root password, how can I get into my system?


A. You can reset forgotten root password under Linux by booting system into single user mode or emergency mode (also known as rescue mode).

My boot loader is GRUB (see LILO boot loader below)

)Following is the procedure to reset root password if you are using GRUB as a boot loader:

  1. Select the kernel
  2. Press the e key to edit the entry
  3. Select second line (the line starting with the word kernel)
  4. Press the e key to edit kernel entry so that you can append single user mode
  5. Append the letter S (or word Single) to the end of the (kernel) line
  6. Press ENTER key
  7. Now press the b key to boot the Linux kernel into single user mode
  8. At prompt type passwd command to reset password:

You need to mount at least / and other partitions:
# mount -t proc proc /proc
# mount -o remount,rw /

Change the root password, enter:
# passwd
Finally reboot system:
# sync
# reboot

My boot loader is LILO

At LILO boot loader type linux single and press [ENTER] key:
Boot: linux single
When you get the # prompt you will need to type passwd root to reset password:
# passwd
Reboot system:
# sync
# reboot

See also:


Posted by: Vivek Gite

The author is the creator of nixCraft and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

49 comment

    1. please write sudo bash and enter in shell as root and type passwd after that u can change

  1. what is the “sync” required for ? btw, I don’t think we have to do mounting if instead of S we append 1 to the end of kernel line… 1 is INIT single user mode.

  2. sync is used to synchronize Disk with OS buffers, e.t. to write any dirty buffers to the disk.

  3. I am using Fedora 11 I don’t get the screen with the kernel version come up and I can’t push e to boot to single user mode. What now?

    1. you’ll need a live cd for that, and the process will be more complex.
      try posting a thread in

  4. Dear sir,

    We are using server with linux o/s but the login and password has been misplaced so could you kindly help us geting our server started.

    Your kind favour will be highly appreciated.

    Thanks and kind regards.

    Syed Mohammed

  5. Hi vivek,
    Normally in solaris, to reset the password.
    boot cdrom -s
    mount the root disk
    edit the /etc/shadow
    null the value
    save and sync
    How to reset the root password in solaris, when the disks are under Veritas.
    when it is mirrored under Veritas VM, how do I do? ( consider 2 disks c1t0d0 and c1t1d0). thanks for your time.

  6. can’t to reset after booting still view “give root password for maintenance or control d” do you have other solution?

  7. now i am working with linux an i forget the linux server root password so i want solution on that so please help me about that

  8. Note that :
    1. Linux is case-sensitive.
    2. “single” is a keyword.

    So, you actually need to add ” s” or ” single”.
    (lower case, and you need a space before it)

  9. You can likely just change root’s password using the normal way if you have sudo permissions: “sudo passwd root”. Setting root’s password initially is likely needed anyway under certain cases, such as when you need to ssh/sftp in as root during emergencies.

  10. i have the latest natty newhal 11.01 ubuntu that just starts off no grub no loading… but i have stuck up with the root password trying to install the JRE platform…

  11. For RHEL-6 do the following in single user mode.

    By default SELinux enabled in RHEL-6 and it will not allow you to change the password.
    Run the below commands to change the password for root.
    #setenforce 0 (check the SELinux changed to Permissive using command “getenforce”)
    then go for password reset

  12. i need to access our server hosted somewhere but the password is being forgotten….so how do i access the server from remotely….anyone help pls

  13. Hi,

    upon mounting the /proc mount point, i am getting error to specify the file system too. what should i enter there?

  14. Am a new linux user.I lost my password for linux mint os how can i rest it and create a new user.Also i keep on reset ing my desktop and time setting every time i power on.The system has no memory of previouse logins

  15. I encounter the same problem and I solved quite easy I might say
    first I wirte
    user@pc:~$ sudo bash
    [sudo] password for user: (you type your sudo password)
    then it automatically switch to
    here you write
    root@pc:/home/user# passwd
    and the output is
    Enter new UNIX password: (here you write your new password)
    then you hit ENTER
    Retype new UNIX password: (retype your new password)
    and if everything goes perfect
    you should have this output:
    passwd: password updated successfully

  16. My linux system writes

    An error occured during the file system check
    dropping you to a shell? The system will reboot when you leave
    the shell
    Give a root password for maintenance or type control d to continue.

    I don not remember the root password
    what can i do?

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