How to Recover Lost root Password in CentOS/RHEL 7

Recovering the** root** password is a trivial task while still logged in as an administrator or a user with full sudo access, but is slightly more involved when an administrator is not logged in. In the latter situation, the administrator could boot from a Live CD, mount the root file system from there, and edit /etc/shadow. Administrators should also be able to perform root password recovery without the use of external media.

NOTE: On CentOS/RHEL 6 and earlier, an administrator could boot the system into runlevel 1, and be presented with a root prompt. The closest analogs to runlevel 1 on a CentOS/RHEL 7 machine are the rescue.targetand targets, both of which require the root password to log in.

On CentOS/RHEL 7, it is possible to have the scripts that run from the** initramfs pause at certain points, provide a root shell, and then continue when that shell exits. While this is mostly meant for debugging, it can also be used to recover a lost root **password:

1. Reboot the system. Interrupt the boot loader countdown by pressing any key.

2. Move the cursor to the entry that needs to be booted.

resetting CentOS 7 root password

3. Press e to edit the selected entry. Move the cursor to the kernel command line (the line that starts with linux16.

reset root password RHEL 7 - linux16 line

4. Append rd.break (this will break just before control is handed from the initramfs to the actual system).

add rd.break to linux16 line

5. Press Ctrl+x to boot with the changes.

At this point, a **root **shell will be presented, with the root file system for the actual system mounted read-only on /sysroot.

**IMPORTANT **SELinux is not yet enabled at this point, so any new files being created will not have an SELinux context assigned to them. Keep in mind that some tools (such as passwd) first create a new file, then move it in place of the file they are intended to edit, effectively creating a new file without an SELinux context

To recover the root password from this point, use the following procedure: 1. Remount /sysroot as read-write.

# switch_root:/# mount -o remount,rw /sysroot

2. Switch into a chroot jail, where /sysroot is treated as the root of the file system tree.

# switch_root:/# chroot /sysroot

3. Set a new root password

# sh-4.2# passwd root

4. Make sure that all unlabeled files (including /etc/shadow at this point) get relabeled during boot.

# sh-4.2# touch /.autorelabel

5. Type exit twice. The first will exit the chroot jail, and the second will exit the initramfs debug shell.

At this point, the system will continue booting, perform a full SELinux relabel, then reboot again.