How To Reset A Forgotten Root Password With Knoppix

Version 1.0
Author: Falko Timme

This guide explains how you can reset a forgotten root password with the help of the Knoppix Linux Live-CD. Afterwards you can log in to your system as root again.

I do not issue any guarantee that this will work for you!


1 Preliminary Note

The method I'm describing here works only on systems to which you have physical access. If your server is in a remote datacenter, for example, you can't boot it from the Knoppix CD, but most hosters provide a rescue system that you can use in the same way to reset your password.


2 Using The Knoppix Live-CD To Reset The Root Password

Download the latest version of the Knoppix Live-CD and boot your system from it. Press ENTER at the boot prompt:

The Koppix system is starting:

After Knoppix has finished booting, you see the Knoppix desktop:

Open a terminal by clicking on the console icon:

Become root by typing:


To find out how your hard disk is partitioned, run

fdisk -l

In this case all files are in one partition, /dev/sda1. This partition contains the /etc/passwd and /etc/shadow files of the system for which we want to reset the root password; it also contains the passwd command. If you have more than one partition, you'll need all partitions in a moment that contain /etc/passwd, /etc/shadow, the passwd command and all files on which the passwd command depends.

Falko Timme

About Falko Timme

Falko Timme is an experienced Linux administrator and founder of Timme Hosting, a leading nginx business hosting company in Germany. He is one of the most active authors on HowtoForge since 2005 and one of the core developers of ISPConfig since 2000. He has also contributed to the O'Reilly book "Linux System Administration".

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