I have tried both commands

sudo passwd


sudo -u root /bin/bash

But as soon as I enter the new password twice, it says password has been updated. You close the shell and open a new instance, it is still working on the old root password.

Please help.

  • well sudo -u root can be a desperate attempt to get things working. but sudo passwd should change the password. and old one should not be required when i open a new WSL shell and try 'sudo apt-get install'
    – Dragonborn
    Jul 5 '17 at 6:48

There is a simpler method.

  1. Open cmd.exe
  2. Type wsl -u root
  3. Type passwd username and change the password
  4. Type exit
  5. Type wsl
  6. Type sudo echo hi to confirm the new password works.
  • 1
    This is perfect! Mar 13 '20 at 9:42
  • The method is simpler and the answer more clear and straightforward, worked perfectly
    – Mickael V.
    Mar 13 '20 at 21:57
  • Also good for fixing anything preventing sudo from working
    – SEoF
    Jun 1 '20 at 13:31
  • should be top voted! Sep 3 '20 at 1:25
  • This works for me. I am using WSL Legacy(Default). Nov 20 '20 at 15:44
  1. in wsl, sudo passwd will change the password of the WSL root user.
  2. in wsl, passwd will change the password of the current WSL user
  • to specify which WSL user to use (temporarily) wsl -u [user]
  1. in wsl, passwd [user] will change the password of any WSL user
  2. in wsl, sudo generally asks for the password of the current WSL user.
  3. in windows cmd.exe, you can change the default WSL user (permanently):
  • in current versions: ubuntu.exe config --default-user [user]
  • in legacy versions 1703, 1709: lxrun /setdefaultuser [user]
  • a restart may be required

You probably want to change the password of the sudo-capable, non-root user.

You probably do not want to change the root users password (because in Ubuntu, the root user generally should not have a password, sudo should be used instead). You probably also do not want to leave your default user as root. Even when working form windows, its still a bad practice.

Official Microsoft documentation on User Accounts and Permissions can be found here: https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/commandline/wsl/user_support

  • I had to close Ubuntu and restart it for ubuntu config --default-user [user] to work. Sep 7 '19 at 21:03
  • Just a quick comment, as mentioned here: askubuntu.com/a/966537/340341 , you need to follow the ubuntu config line with sc stop LxssManager and sc stop LxssManager for the update to work in the current shell Nov 22 '19 at 13:36
  • Relevant section of your link: docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/wsl/… Microsoft uses the root user as example. Do they share bad practices? Why is it bad practice to give root a password?
    – varnaud
    Jun 17 '20 at 11:49

It is assumed you are using Ubuntu in this explanation.

  • If you forgot your password on WSL simply open your command prompt from windows by typing cmd on search.
  • Then type ubuntu config --default-user root to set root as the default user for Linux Bash Shell.
  • Then open the Linux Bash shell which will log you in as root without asking for password.
  • Then use passwd username to reset the password of any user.
  • Use ubuntu config --default-user username to reset back to your normal Linux user account.
  • /bin/bash/: config: command not found
    – Geoffrey
    Aug 8 '19 at 10:34
  • 1
    @systemovich - you need to run the ubuntu config ... commands from a windows command prompt (cmd.exe). To open the bash shell from there, just type wsl and hit Enter. To return to the windows command prompt, from the WSL prompt, type exit and hit enter
    – StingyJack
    Sep 9 '19 at 18:38
  • 9
    There is a simpler method. 1. Open cmd.exe 2. Type wsl -u root 3. Type passwd username and change the password 4. Type exit 5. Type wsl 6. Type sudo echo h' to confirm the new password works.
    – bicole
    Jan 29 '20 at 15:03

There is no need to reconfigure Ubuntu, but, if you have more than one distribution installed and Ubuntu is not your default, you must also specify the distribution in addition to the root user:

wsl -d Ubuntu -u root

Then go about your business to reset your regular user account. Stealing the one-liner from @NotTheDr01ds:

wsl -d Ubuntu -u root passwd username

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