Recovering or Resetting Your Ubuntu Root Password: A Step-by-Step Guide

Losing or forgetting your root password on Ubuntu can be a real headache, right? But, fear not! Regaining access to your system is not as complex as you might think. All you need is access to the GRUB bootloader, and you can reset your root password in a matter of minutes. Let’s dive into the steps to recover or reset your root password on Ubuntu.

Step by Step Tutorial on Recovering or Resetting Your Ubuntu Root Password

Before we start, it’s important to know that the following steps will allow you to reset the root password, giving you back full control of your system. Make sure to follow each step carefully to avoid any issues.

Step 1: Reboot your system and open the GRUB menu

Reboot your Ubuntu system and hold down the ‘Shift’ key to open the GRUB menu.

The GRUB menu is the place where you can choose how to start your system. By default, it’s hidden in Ubuntu, so holding down ‘Shift’ while booting will make it appear.

Step 2: Select ‘Advanced options for Ubuntu’

Use your arrow keys to navigate to ‘Advanced options for Ubuntu’ and press ‘Enter’.

This option will take you to a submenu where you can choose different kernel options or recovery modes.

Step 3: Choose the ‘Recovery mode’

Select the line that ends in ‘(recovery mode)’ and press ‘Enter’.

Recovery mode is a special boot option where the system starts with minimal services and a command line interface.

Step 4: Select ‘root’ to open the root shell prompt

In the recovery menu, choose ‘root – Drop to root shell prompt’ and press ‘Enter’.

This will give you access to the root shell, a command-line interface with root privileges, which allows you to make system-wide changes.

Step 5: Remount the filesystem with write permissions

Type the command mount -rw -o remount / and hit ‘Enter’.

By default, the filesystem is mounted in read-only mode in recovery. This command remounts it with write permissions so you can make changes.

Step 6: Reset the root password

Type passwd and press ‘Enter’, then follow the prompts to enter and confirm a new root password.

The passwd command is used to change passwords. Once you’ve entered a new password, it will update the system.

Step 7: Reboot the system

Type reboot and hit ‘Enter’ to restart your system.

After resetting your password, a reboot is necessary for the changes to take effect and for you to log in with your new root password.

Once you’ve completed these steps, you should be able to log into your Ubuntu system with the new root password that you’ve set. Remember, having a strong and memorable root password is crucial for the security of your system.

Tips for Recovering or Resetting Your Ubuntu Root Password

  • Before beginning the password reset process, ensure that you have all necessary data backed up, just in case something goes wrong.
  • If you’re unable to access the GRUB menu, check your BIOS settings to ensure that the boot order is set correctly, or try using a different key if ‘Shift’ doesn’t work.
  • After resetting your password, it’s a good practice to update your system and all installed packages.
  • Consider using a password manager to securely store your root password and avoid losing it in the future.
  • If you’re often forgetting passwords, you might want to consider setting a password that’s complex enough to be secure but simple enough to remember.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the GRUB menu?

The GRUB menu is a boot loader that allows you to select which operating system or kernel to boot into on a multi-boot system.

Can I reset the root password from a live CD/USB?

Yes, you can use a live CD/USB to access your system’s filesystem and reset the root password.

What should I do if I don’t see the GRUB menu?

Try holding the ‘Shift’ key or ‘Esc’ key as your system boots. If that doesn’t work, you may need to change your BIOS settings to slow down the boot process.

Is it safe to reset the root password this way?

Yes, this method is safe and commonly used. However, always ensure you have backups before making system changes.

Can I use this method on other Linux distributions?

While the steps may be similar, different distributions might have variations. Always check the specific instructions for your distribution.


  1. Reboot system and open GRUB menu
  2. Select ‘Advanced options for Ubuntu’
  3. Choose ‘Recovery mode’
  4. Select ‘root’ for root shell prompt
  5. Remount filesystem with write permissions
  6. Reset root password
  7. Reboot system


Forgetting your Ubuntu root password is no longer a reason to panic. With the steps outlined above, you’re well-equipped to tackle the problem head-on and regain access to your system. It’s a simple process that requires a bit of patience and careful typing.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to keep your root password somewhere safe and to make it something you can remember without compromising your system’s security. If you’re frequently losing passwords, investing in a password manager might be a wise decision.

Moreover, while this process is specific to Ubuntu, the principles apply to many other Linux distributions, though the exact steps may vary.

In the end, the key takeaway is that you should always maintain regular backups of your system to prevent data loss in case of any mishaps during such processes. Now that you’ve learned how to recover or reset your Ubuntu root password, you can rest a little easier knowing that you have the power to fix this common issue. If you need more help, don’t hesitate to consult the Ubuntu community forums or other Linux resources for assistance. Keep exploring, learning, and enjoying the flexibility that Linux offers.