Friday, October 07, 2005

I've forgotten the root password; how can I recover?

Subject: 15.1) I've forgotten the root password; how can I recover?

You need to have access to the machine's console.

1. Note the root partition (e.g. /dev/sd0a or /dev/dsk/c0t3d0s0)
2. Hit STOP-A or L1-A (or, on an ASCII terminal or emulator, send a
<BREAK>) to halt the operating system, if it's running.
3. Boot single-user from CD-ROM (boot cdrom -s) or network
install/jumpstart server (boot net -s) (NB: if it asks you for a prom
password, see below.)
4. Mount the root partition (e.g. /dev/dsk/c0t3d0s0) on "/a". "/a" is
an empty mount point that exists at this stage of the installation
procedure. (mount /dev/dsk/c0t3d0s0 /a)
5. Set your terminal type so you can use a full-screen editor, e.g. vi.
(you can skip this step if you know how to use "ex" or "vi" from open
mode). If you're on a sun console, type "TERM=sun; export TERM"; if
you're using an ascii terminal (or terminal emulator on a PC) for your
console, set TERM to the terminal type (e.g. TERM=vt100; export TERM).
6. Edit the passwd file (/a/etc/passwd for SunOS 4.x, /a/etc/passwd.adjunct
for SunOS 4.x with shadow passwords/C2 security), /a/etc/shadow for
Solaris 2.x and remove the encrypted password entry for root
7. cd to /; Type "umount /a"
8. reboot as normal in single-user mode ("boot -s"). The root account will
not have a password. Give it a new one using the passwd command.

Thanks to Stefan Voss <s dot voss at terradata dot de>

PROM passwords:

Naturally, you may not want anyone with physical access to the machine to
be able to do the above to erase the root password. Suns have a security
password mechanism in the PROM which can be set (this is turned off by
default). The man page for the eeprom command describes this feature.

If security-mode is set to "command", the machine only be booted without
the prom password from the default device (i.e. booting from CD-ROM or
install server will require the prom password). Changing the root password
in this case requires moving the default device (e.g. the boot disk) to a
different SCSI target (or equivalent), and replacing it with a similarly
bootable device for which the root password is known. If security-mode is
set to full, the machine cannot be booted without the prom password, even
from the default device; defeating this requires replacing the NVRAM on the
motherboard. "Full" security has its drawbacks -- if, during normal
operations, the machine is power-cycled (e.g. by a power outage) or halted
(e.g. by STOP-A), it cannot reboot without the intervention of someone
who knows the prom password.


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