[K12OSN] Loosing access to master password

Josiah Ritchie jritchie at bible.edu
Thu May 20 13:23:34 UTC 2004

You can use any linux boot CD. Knoppix is popular. This sets up an
entirely separate filesystem. Then you mount your drives under that file
system where you do have root permission and edit the file that would be
/etc/shadow with your new root password.  The line you want to change is
going to look a little like this: 


It's a colon delimited file. The fields are defined in documentation
across the web. The hash (i.e. $1$wPzR0h/8$ZnBFKP-dX0cG1r4.Ky/nc1) is
what you want to change. (I changed mine a bit here so this isn't an
exact copy of my hash).

The easiest thing to do might be to change your root password (passwd)
on the CD booted system and copy the hash from your local /etc/shadow to
your LTSP /etc/shadow and you should be good to go. Reboot into the LTSP
system and try to login as root.

You might be able to put the root password in cleartext, but I think
that requires messing with another file to indicate that you have
cleartext passwords and I think it would be more difficult, plus you'd
have to change back.

This should only require a 1/2 hour of downtime. If you need more
detailed instructions I'd be glad to provide, but figured you wanted it
quick rather then detailed.


On Thu, 2004-05-20 at 09:03, Alan A Hodson wrote:
> Hi gang
> The unthinkable happened. Somehow I lost the root password to a new 
> system, and I am facing the daunting task of having to reinstall 
> everything... No files need to be saved, BUT, the question arises, 
> what if the system is hacked and your root password changed? What 
> security options are there? - I am thinking a boot disk with root 
> login with no pwd or some such emergency app, something like the 
> Install OSX CD in Macs, where one of the choices is change passwords 
> (being linux based, one of our gurus ought to be able to reverse 
> engineer the process...)
> Cheers
> Alan Hodson
> El Paso ISD, TX
> -=o=-
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