We have talked about fixing system problems by changing the boot runlevel of the system temporarily, but what if you encounter a dire problem such as forgetting the root password? This requires another approach because you will need the root password at some point.
SUSE realizes the need to be able to repair a Linux system, which generally requires Linux tools and access to the ailing Linux system using those tools, and so has included a Rescue System on the first CD or DVD in your SUSE installation set. To load the Rescue System, use the optical media, and select Rescue System from the initial boot menu. The kernel from the CD will load, and an initial ramdisk containing a fuller Linux system will be loaded. This Rescue System has built-in support for the types of Linux filesystems discussed in this book, as well as to IDE hard drives. If you are using a SCSI disk, this ramdisk also includes the main modules for loading a SCSI disk.
As an example of using the SUSE Rescue System, let's imagine that we have forgotten the root password so we need to reset this with the Rescue System.
Some of you might see a large security problem with what we are about to do. If malicious users have physical access to a server, they are quite able to reset the root password of the machine using this method. For this reason, the physical security of a machine is as important as the security of the machine from an operational standpoint. But if you think about it, if someone has physical access to the machine they can do anything. They can install a different operating system, smash the hard disks with a sledgehammer — whatever they want to do.
To reset the root password from the SUSE Rescue System, follow these steps:
1. When the Rescue System has loaded, you are prompted to select the keyboard map that you are using (which defines the type of keyboard that you are using). After the kernel executes, loads the initial ramdisk, and starts various system processes, you are then asked to log in. Just enter root as the username, and you will be dropped into the Linux system from the initial ramdisk.
2. At this point, you need to identify the partition that contains /etc. This will usually be your / (root) partition. Mount the partition under /mint. The following example uses /dev/hda3 as the root partition:
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