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 logging in to my Ubuntu Server using my username. Once I am logged in I am typing passwd command. Entering a new password but a second after getting following error messages:

passwd: Authentication token manipulation error
passwd: password unchanged

What is wrong here? How can I change my password otherwise if I don't have access to that server physically, i.e. I am connecting remotely with ssh using terminal.

share|improve this question
The first prompt asks for your CURRENT password. Have you done that, cause if you just typed the new one, you'll get the error message you say.. – Pavlos G. Aug 18 '11 at 14:03
i have the same problem, and find the answer from this link try this code: mount -rw -o remount / hope this helpfull.. – Mubin Jul 7 '14 at 4:50
@Mubin: That's for an emergency recovery from single-user mode. Since this question is about a logged-in user, we can safely assume it's not a recovery scenario. – MSalters Apr 26 at 13:19

11 Answers 11

up vote 23 down vote accepted

If you insert the wrong passwd

$ passwd
Changing password for rinzwind.
(current) UNIX password: 
passwd: Authentication token manipulation error
passwd: password unchanged

you get this error. If you are sure to have inserted the correct one this error might also show up if you are using shadowed password files and the shadow doesn’t have entry for this user (basically/etc/passwd has an entry for this user, but /etc/shadow does not).

In order to fix this, you can either add the entry manually (make a backup first!!!) or recreate the shadow file with pwconv (Manpage).

share|improve this answer
+1 my passwd/shadow set up was all messed up. Your pwconv hint was a lifesaver! – djhaskin987 Aug 12 '14 at 13:55
@djhaskin987 3 years later (minus 6 days). Glad it helped you :D – Rinzwind Aug 12 '14 at 14:14

Do these two things just to make sure:

mount -o remount,rw /

This first part remounts the root partition as read/write since it was only in read mode. It actually dismounts the root partition and then mounts it again as read/write.

Then do this:

chmod 640 /etc/shadow

Then do the sudo passwd USER. It should work after that. This part gives the correct permissions to the shadow file.

share|improve this answer
This worked for me. Could anyone help me understand what I just did? – Stew Apr 25 '14 at 17:33
@Stew updated answer to explain better. – Luis Alvarado Apr 25 '14 at 17:35
Great, thanks Luis! Should I change the root directory back to Read mode when I finish with this? – Stew Apr 25 '14 at 17:58
@Stew no. It should stay like Read/Write. This is only when you want to fsck the disk for some problems not booting correctly or other issues. By default Ubuntu Server/Desktop should boot with root in Read/Write mode. So this method should not be needed after the problem (any that caused the issue) was solved. – Luis Alvarado Apr 25 '14 at 20:43

I'm not sure how it happened. A sudo user created my account then deleted it then created it again.

Here is what I found

mount -o remount,rw /
passwd: Authentication token manipulation error

No change.

sudo pwck

Showed no errors.

sudo grpck

Showed no errors.

ls -l /etc/passwd /etc/group /etc/shadow /etc/shadow-
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root    767 May  7 16:45 /etc/group
-rw-r--r-- 1 root root   1380 May  7 16:45 /etc/passwd
-rw-r----- 1 root shadow 1025 May  8 09:11 /etc/shadow
-rw------- 1 root root   1025 May  7 16:46 /etc/shadow-

Looks normal.

sudo cat /etc/shadow |grep oracle

Showed user and encrypted password.

sudo cat /etc/shadow- |grep oracle

Showed nothing. Not sure what that means but doesn't look right.

sudo passwd -d oracle

So the solution was to delete the password then reset new password.

Hope this helps.

share|improve this answer

If you are using SELinux, running this command fixed the issue for me.

restorecon -v /etc/shadow

Thanks to this conversation for the solution.

share|improve this answer

Also, ensure that your entry in /etc/passwd is not mal-formed. If you have the incorrect number of colons in the line for your user entry, the 'passwd' command cannot parse it and refuses to continue with the exact error message provided.

share|improve this answer

Another problem might be that the disk is full. I got this error when resetting a password, and later checked my disks with df and found that no space is available on my disk. After freeing some I could reset the password without problems.

share|improve this answer

Check if you have messed up the common-password file in /etc/pam.d/. This will cause errors if your present password does not match the one that common-password wants. In my case this was the reason why I was getting that authentication token error.

share|improve this answer

fixed my messed /etc/pam.d/common-password

share|improve this answer

This issue occurred due to the incorrect permissions set to /usr/bin/passwd.

Please try to set the permission as 4511 by using the command:

chmod 4511 /usr/bin/passwd

This will resolve the issue.

share|improve this answer
Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! ;-) Could you please review my edits and also review the editing help to improve the readability of your questions in the future... ;-) – Fabby Sep 5 '15 at 9:39

In Lubuntu 15.04 I had the same token manipulation error. I figured this is due to the file system still in read only mode.


mount -o remount,rw / passwd passwd: Authentication token manipulation error

This does not work but this does: mount -o remount, --rw / passwd passwd: Authentication token manipulation error

share|improve this answer

The error says that the PAM module (see: man pam_chauthtok) was unable to obtain the new authentication token. This may happen on Ubuntu when the user doesn't have default password set yet and passwd is still requesting it, so the workaround is to change the password using root privileges, e.g.

sudo passwd $USER

so you won't be asked for the current password and the error won't happen.

See also: Authentication token manipulation error

share|improve this answer

protected by Community Jan 29 at 15:38

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

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