We help IT Professionals succeed at work.

Root password error

TRD asked
Last Modified: 2010-04-20
I'm new to the Linux world, so I'll try to explain as far as I know.  Basically, I've installed RHL 6.1, my X-Server started of with a blank screen.  I guessed it could be my graphic card.  I downloaded the linux driver from Windows 98 and this what I did.  Restarted my PC, at the LILO boot: I typed "linux single" so that it won't go into the X-server.  I wanted to install those VGA linux drivers but I need the root user access.  The problem is when I typed the password for the root access, it says "Login incorrect".  I'm pretty sure of the root password that I created during the installation.  What's going on?

nb: I'm not familiar with UNIX commands.
Watch Question

Maybe if you're from germany ( or any other non-english language country), the keyboard layout could be the problem.

Can you login as someone else?  Do you have caps-lock on?  You don't want caps-lock on.

Basically, you want to boot from CD/floppy or in single-user mode.
Single-user mode in some versions of unix still prompts for the root
password, but can nevertheless be used to recover from messing up the root
line in /etc/passwd farther along, e.g. changing the shell to something
inappropriate.  And in some versions of unix it doesn't ask for the password.

To boot in single-user mode, in a prom monitor (e.g. L1-A on a Sun, or press
ESC while booting an SGI), you want a command like "single" or "boot -s"
or "b -s".  At the linux LILO prompt, you want something like "linux s".
If that gives you problems, "linux init=/bin/sh" might bypass the normal
boot sequence and just give you a shell, but you'll have to remount the
root filesystem (see below).

After single-user mode, it's cleaner to reboot rather than to press ^D to
do the multiuser boot, because the init "runlevel" mechanism is hacky.

It might be more rewarding to boot from OS installation media.  They usually
give you the opportunity to run a shell (e.g. "sh" in irix inst; ctrl-alt-F2
in redhat linux).  In this case, do a "df" to find your root partition on
something like /root or /mnt.

Sometimes it's easier to make like a "cracker" and break in to it.
I imagine that most people who forget their root password have machines
which can easily be broken into...

Once you're in, you can edit the password file, or you can change the
password without supplying the old one as root by typing "passwd root".
(Depending on how you got there, a plain "passwd" might not know it's
root's password you're trying to change.)

If you clear the password entry, be disconnected from the internet until
you've set a new root password.

If the above doesn't answer your question, please look for a faq specific to
your version of unix; if you end up posting here, please state version info.

Problems editing the password file or running "passwd root" include:

/usr might not be mounted in single-user mode (and /bin might be a symlink to
/usr/bin, so most things might be on /usr).  You can probably just type "mount
/usr" or "/sbin/mount /usr".  Other filesystems might also be unavailable
but probably aren't needed just to change the password (and you're about
to reboot to get things back to normal after you change root's password).

The root filesystem might be mounted read-only, depending on how you
got there.  "mount / -o remount,rw" might fix this.

This one is on us!
(Get your first solution completely free - no credit card required)


You're right!  The BASH# prompt is the root access.  Sorry for those who posted tons of reply, I guessed I just didn't know how to specify my problems.

Thanks again treydk
Unlock the solution to this question.
Join our community and discover your potential

Experts Exchange is the only place where you can interact directly with leading experts in the technology field. Become a member today and access the collective knowledge of thousands of technology experts.

*This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.


Please enter a first name

Please enter a last name

8+ characters (letters, numbers, and a symbol)

By clicking, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.