Reset forgotten Linux root password

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
Another Method is
This method of reseting/recovering of lost Linux root password should work on most of linux distributions. I have tested this method for couple years already, starting with debian woody trough redhat and suse to ubuntu hardy.
If you run lilo boot loader instead of grub you can use the same method but with some modifications on how to edit lilo boot prompt.
2. Edit Grub boot menu options

First you need to get into grub menu options. This menu is displayed right at the beginning of the boot. If you cannot see your grub menu options press “ESC’ key.

You should get something similar to this:
grub boot menu
Now we attempt to edit grub’s boot option. Press “e” to edit the first grub menu option and navigate to kernel line:

edit grub boot option with

Press “e” key again to edit and remove:

quiet splash

and add:


You may have some different boot options but the main part you need to change/add is init=/bin/bash. You will get something similar to this:
change to init=/bin/bash
Press enter:
ready to boot from edited grub menu

At this point, we have edited grub boot menu, and we are ready to boot. Press “b” key to boot.

3. Remount / and /proc

After successfully boot you will be presented with bash command prompt:

booting to a bash command prompt

On some linux systems, you will need to completely mount / and /proc partitions. To do that, enter following commands:

mount -o remount,rw / mount -o remount,rw /proc

* NOTE: If you are not sure that if your partition is already mounted RW, run the above command anyway as, otherewise on some systems you will not be able reset your root password. If you fail to do so, you get this error displayed on the screen:

passwd: Authentication token lock busy

* NOTE: On some Linux distributions, you will have /proc mounted already if this is not your case, just run following command:

mount /proc

mount and remount partitions in single boot mode

4. reset / recover forgotten linux root password

To reset a actual root password is now simple as typing :


reset / recover forgotten linux root password

5. Reboot

Before you reboot it is recommended but not compulsory to run


command. Your job of reseting a linux root password is accomplished.

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