Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Not sure how this happened but...

When I installed 11.10 I did not create a password, when my son added his account to the mahine somehow his account became the administrative account. I know this because everytime I had to connect to a new wifi location the machine would ask for the administrative password and the one that worked was his account password.

His account has been deleted from the machine, I tried to connect to a new wifi and am being asked for the administrative password. I entered what his used to be and it is not accepting it.

I have tried several methods to try and reset the administrative password but at every point I am being asked for the password before I can proceed.

Starting to think I am going to have to reinstall Ubuntu to solve this

Any help?

share|improve this question
I presume you have tried using your own password? – Nicolay Doytchev Apr 23 '12 at 2:59
@rick: I think you misunderstand what a "root password" or a "root account" are. I re-worded your question a bit if you don't mind – Sergey Apr 23 '12 at 3:12

If your account have lost administrative privileges you need to do the following:

  1. Figure out your username. Open a terminal and type whoami[Enter] there. Write it down.

Then, you need to reboot your machine into Recovery Console (this is one of the menu entries in your boot menu). The console gives you full access to the system, so be careful.

To change/set your user's password, in the Recovery Console you need to type

passwd YOURUSERNAME[Enter]

which will ask you for a new password and then will ask you to repeat it.

To make your user an administrator on the machine, do the following:

addgroup admin[Enter]
adduser YOURUSERNAME admin[Enter]

then reboot the machine using


You should be able to log in with your new password. When performing administrative tasks (such as installing new software - actually, it occurred to me that I was never asked for a password when connecting to wi-fi hotspots... hmm...) - anyway, for administrative tasks you will be asked for the same password.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.