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How to: OpenBSD reset root password

If you forgot your root password, you can simply reset it. The general procedure for resetting password is as follows (if you are a Linux user, see how to reset Linux root password):

a) At boot> prompt force openbsd to boot into a single user mode

b) Next mount file system in read-write mode

c) Run passwd command

d) Sync file system

e) Reboot and login normally.

Procedure to reset root password

At boot> prompt type boot -s to boot into single user mode:
boot> boot -s
Next you will see a message as follows:

Enter pathname of shell or RETURN for sh:

Just hit [Enter] key to load sh shell.
Next mount / and /usr file system in read-write mode:
# mount -uw /
# mount /usr

Finally set or change the password for root user, enter:
# passwd
Press CTRL+D to boot into multiuser mode or just reboot server:
# reboot

Further reading

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  • Jonathan Arnold September 19, 2007, 7:51 pm

    The problem is that this method doesn’t work for many modern distros (like PC-BSD and openSUSE). They ask you for root password at boot time. In BSD, it is controlled, IIRC, by setting ‘secure’ in the /etc/ttys file for the tty. Not really sure how it is done in Linux. In openSUSE, there is a /etc/inittab file, and in there is a ‘what to do in single-user mode” comment that includes running /sbin/sulogin. Perhaps if this is commented out?

    Another discussion is here:


    This is how you can boot a Live CD and edit the /etc/shadow file to remove the root password.

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