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

I am running 12.04 LTS. It's a pretty default installation and is the only OS on this machine.

I have two users one has administrator rights the other does not. I accidentally removed administrator rights from the "admin" user.

I tried to add myself back as a sudo user but that requires reaching GRUB during boot but I cannot get there because my /etc/default/grub has GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT=0 and changing that to a positive integer requires admin privileges to save the changes and run sudo update-grub.

Should I boot from LiveCD? The Reasons for Using a LiveCD Session discouraged my a bit. Right now all I have handy is an install DVD from 11.10, but that did not help me much.

Not sure what to do now.

Any suggestions?

NOTE: 12.04 does not have an admin group and I have not enabled root

share|improve this question
Press the SHIFT key down during boot-up to force the GRUB menu to display. – izx Aug 23 '12 at 15:44

Hold SHIFT right after BIOS posts. That should get you into the GRUB menu regardless of whether your GRUB_HIDDEN_TIMEOUT is set to zero or not.

From the GRUB menu, select your most recent kernel tagged with "(recovery mode)". Once that finishes loading, you should be presented with a menu that has an option to "drop to root shell prompt". You might have to arrow-down to see it.

recovery menu

That should get you to the command line as the root user. From there you should be able to re-add yourself as a sudo user. Note that you might have a read-only filesystem at that point. If so, run the below command:

mount -o remount,rw /
share|improve this answer

sudo adduser my_user_name admin will add an existing user called my_user_name into the admin group.

sudo adduser new_user_name will add a new user

sudo adduser my_user_name root will add an existing user called my_user_name into the root group.

Once you can load Ubuntu and get into the Desktop you can download an application for modifying users rights and groups. Open a Terminal and type:

sudo apt-get install users-admin

share|improve this answer
I tried this on my 12.04 VM, and it said that the admin group did not exist. Is this possibly the "adm" group instead? – Aaron Sep 24 '12 at 19:51
@BryceAtNetwork23 no, you would need the group sudo. – guntbert Aug 5 '13 at 19:28

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.