[Techtalk] Unknown root password

David Sumbler david at aeolia.co.uk
Wed Aug 27 21:01:41 UTC 2008

A colleague told me today that she has bought a small laptop which runs
Linux.  After a little questioning, it appears that it is Ubuntu Hardy

She asked me if I would have a look at it some time, as she has a few
small problems - she mentioned that RealPlayer doesn't work (or isn't
installed), and that movies won't play either (perhaps that's one
problem, rather than two).

I said that I was surprised that it hadn't been set up with these
working; she said that the man in the shop didn't seem to know a lot
about Linux, and that it had wanted the "administrator's" password, but
he didn't know what it was.

I know no more than this, because we were busy in a rehearsal and there
was no more time to talk.  However, we have some time free tomorrow
afternoon, so I said I'd have a look then.

I suppose it is possible that there is an actual root account and/or
sudo hasn't been set up as it normally is in Ubuntu.  I think that it
must be possible to reset the root password, or to delete and recreate
the account if I boot from the Knoppix CD which I shall take along with
me, but I can't remember how.

If I boot Knoppix and log in as root, then presumably I can view all the
files on the hard drive.  But how can I reset root's password for the
installed system?


David Sumbler <david at aeolia.co.uk>

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