I lost/forgot the root password to a server sitting beside me and am trying to reset it. I would rather not have to wipe and re-install or use a Live CD (server is running Ubuntu Server 12.04). What I've tried so far...

1) Boot into "Recovery mode" from Grub2 boot menu then drop into root shell prompt. I am prompted to "Give root password for maintenance". No-go.

2) Change the boot parameters for the main boot option to include "rw" and "init=/bin/bash". When I then boot with Ctrl-X, the screen goes black, and nothing happens (I've waited five minutes). init=/bin/sh and init=/bin/static-sh both do the same thing, while init=/sbin/init boots as normal.

Is there anything else I can try to reset the root password? Thank you!

  • 1
    If you would have left Ubuntu with the standard configuration, then root would have a disabled password, and you would have gotten a menu you when you went into recovery mode. Did you also forget the password for the first account that had sudo access? – Zoredache Nov 30 '12 at 17:43
  • Have you considered using sudo that way you would not need to use the root password all the time? – mdpc Nov 30 '12 at 18:11

If you're already rebooting, just boot into the Live CD, chroot into the server's root filesystem, and run passwd. Problem solved.


I just tried on a near-blank Ubuntu server 12.04 in Virtualbox. Holding SHIFT down while booting, choosing the first entry, pressin "e" to edit, I replace

ro quiet


rw nosplash boot=/bin/bash

and it boots up without problems into a bash-shell. Perhaps the graphic-cards is making you trouble, thus the nosplash.

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