Renaming root users causes problems!

Corey Edwards tensai at
Sat Mar 26 09:19:53 MST 2005

On Sat, 2005-03-26 at 08:17, Kenneth Burgener wrote:
> I had heard that one security measure you can do for your Linux machine 
> is rename the root username.  The system booted fine, but I found that 
> several services (including xinetd, and iptables) require the root user 
> to be named root.  Is there a way around this, or is it not a good idea 
> to rename the root user.

I personally don't see much point in it. Disable root ssh login if
you're paranoid. SELinux would probably be a better route to limit what
root can actually do. It's not a trivial task.

> I have a second question.  When I realized that there were problems I 
> went back and renamed the root user back to root in the /etc/passwd and 
> /etc/group, but I forgot to fix it in /etc/shadow.  So my next question 
> is how do you recover from that?  I assumed that it would just list my 
> password as blank, but this didn't work.  Any suggestion on fixing this? 
>   How can you reset the root password?  I had heard in earlier threads 
> about booting to "single" user mode.  I tried that but it prompts me for 
> the "root password for maintenance".

Add the boot option "init=/bin/sh" in grub. That will skirt the whole
boot up process and dump you to a root shell. You may need to remount
the / filesystem with "mount -o remount,rw /". Edit /etc/shadow and
save. Since you didn't start /sbin/init, you can't shutdown. Instead,
remount / ro again to flush any changes and hit the power button.


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