[conspire] Re: conspire Digest, Vol 20, Issue 5

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sat Jan 15 09:48:41 PST 2005

Quoting bruce coston (jane_ikari at yahoo.com):

> thanks, thats a lot to wade through, 

Only because I tried to cover every possible angle, including the idiots 
who password-protect their bootloaders and BIOS Setup programs.

Normally, you need know just this:

At the bootloader (GRUB, lilo, whatever) prompt, where you can
specify the kernel image name + any boot options, add "single" at the
end, then proceed.  98 times out of 100, this will take you straight
into single-user maintenance mode, dropping you at a root-user shell
prompt, where you can run "passwd" to set root's password to whatever
you want.

One time out of 100, you try that, but find yourself facing a login
prompt instead of a root shell, because some idiot's set up "secure" 
access to maintenance mode.  In that case, instead of appending
"single", you specify "init=/bin/sh" to bypass the regular init process.

That, again, brings you to a root-user prompt, but with the minor
problem that the root filesystem's mounted read-only (which obviously 
will interfere with changing the password).  So, you remount it

# mount  -o rw,remount  /

...and _then_ run "passwd".

One time out of 100, you face those other types of interference I cited

> i may just stick him with re-installs when he forgets the password he
> entered two minutes ago unless the linux os has important data because
> he refuses to take security seriously: 

Generally a bad idea, if only because it encourages user helplessness
and the notion that wipe & reinstall is normal.  It shouldn't be:
That's those other guys.

> because people tend to think that whatever they got cheap is worth
> less, ie price of diamonds vs water. 

So true.  This is the main reason why I'm not a "Linux advocate".
People ask me to tell them why they should run Linux (i.e., convince
them to), and I'll say "Thanks, no".  If they're curious and interested,
I'm glad to help, but have much better uses for my time than trying to
sway the reluctant and ungrateful.

Cheers,           find / -user your -name base -print | xargs chown us:us
Rick Moen
rick at linuxmafia.com

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