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Long story short:

On this server I had lost the password to the server root account, as well as a secondary non-root account. Thus, leaving me powerless to change the non-root password (or to do anything for that matter).

I've finally been able to login as root by changing the Ubuntu 14.04 boot to have rw init=/bin/bash instead of quiet ro splash.

Unfortunately, anything I do as this root is completely virtual in a sense. Any files I create as root disappear the next login. Not to mention whilst logged in as root, all other accounts on the server apparently don't exist.

How can I recover (proper) server root access that will allow me to alter files/change passwords?

Other things to note:

  • The bios and grub menu are password locked as well.
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Boot to "single user mode" by adding single after quiet ro splash. You should then be able to set the root password.

Just replacing the init system with bash might not do quite what you need since it is just dropping straight to the shell and not initializing the system as it normally would.

  • Just tried that. It asks for the root password for maintenance or press Ctrl-D to continue. After continuing it leaves me with a screen with a few logs and no access of typing anything. – Graviton Sep 26 '17 at 21:44

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