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Lost or forgot Admin password (root user password)
written March 25, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #18
 

As we have touched on several times already, we are getting support inquiries from people using Linux and trying to find help. For a general coverage of this, see this blog entry

So we received a phone call and asked how to get the Admin password back on Linux. Well, a more accurate term would be the root user or super user password, but losing or forgetting this password is definitely a huge problem. So what are your options?

You will be able to find various options and approaches if you search the internet for solutions to this problem, but (and this is totally dependent on the distro, your security setup, and other configuration options for sudo/sodoers), here is a potentially quick way to fix this.

  • The following assumptions apply and all depend on how your system is configured!
  • You can log in with your user name or some other user
  • That user is configured to use sudo for administrator/super user functions
  • The password, if required, is the password for the user (and not the root password)

Also note that this approach also works for some live distros and will work for any system configured to allow sudo to run as super user for the logged on user.

  • Log on as user with password with sudo privileges
  • Run terminal session (alternate: Ctrl-Alt-F1 or Ctrl-Alt-F2, etc. and log on as user with password)
  • At prompt in terminal, type sudo su[Enter] - if configured, will allow you to run as super user level, if asked for password, use your user's password.
  • If successful (you will be warned if it fails), you will be logged in as root (typically indicated with # prompt)
  • Now type whoami[Enter] - if it shows root, you are almost there!
  • Type passwd[Enter] - Enter your new password, and again to confirm
  • Now type exit[Enter] - this returns to normal user prompt
  • To test, type su[Enter] - and enter your new password - you should be logged on as root (whoami)

For more info on sudo, use man sudo - sudo allows a permitted user to execute a command as the superuser or another user, as specified by the security policy. Note that this must be setup already, and not all distros use this approach (to add created users in the sudoers list). So this process may not work - but it will work on various Linux distros. An interesting aspect of this is that you can change the root password in situations where you really shouldn't - so please be aware that even though you were granted certain privileges, you should not abuse them. You don't need the root password if you can do what you need to do with sudo!!

Issues with new Debian 10 install - no Desktop / login prompt only
written March 14, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #16
 

We have heard of this with Debian 10 - whether you install 1 or multiple desktop environments, you can get to a point where you don't get a graphical login.

This is assuming Debian is fully installed - you should see a GRUB menu at startup, and see services starting, etc. [ OK ] Starting..., [ OK ] Reached..., etc.

Be sure to be patient if screen goes blank - it may take a long while to get everything loaded depending on system, memory, graphics, etc., etc.

At startup/pre-login on a typical system, you can use Ctrl-Alt-F1, Ctrl-Alt-F2, through Ctrl-Alt-F7 to toggle different screens (tty). Definitely try Ctrl-Alt-F1, Ctrl-Alt-F2, and Ctrl-Alt-F7 to see display differences, and perhaps see what may be going on.

If you only can get to (see) a login prompt (and no sign of a graphics mode), you can do the following commands in Debian to try a different display manager.

Login as root, use
apt-get install lightdm
or
apt-get install gdm3
or
apt-get install xdm

(or install all, and/or look up other display managers to add)

You should then get the ability to select the display manager - select something different & save/reboot.

You can also use the dpkg-reconfigure command to modify the available display managers

dpkg-reconfigure sddm
or
/usr/sbin/dpkg-reconfigure sddm
(or reconfigure gdm3, xdm, lightdm, etc.)

Typically not recommended in Debian to manually edit things, but you can see what is in this file:

/etc/X11/default-display-manager
e.g. nano /etc/X11/default-display-manager

Solving Problems
written January 28, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #15
 

There is a wide spectrum of conceptual models when it comes to Linux. Some people seem to have a hard time conceiving of a community or the developmental model that allows a fully functional operating system to be available for free. And not just 1, but hundreds of distros. So this reality gets processed differently by different people, who then try to fit this strange reality into the world they perceive. Because we answer the phone and respond to inquiries, we sometimes get contacted for technical support on aspects that have literally absolutely nothing to do with the service LinuxCollections.com provides. We recently received a letter via US post from an individual trying to get their HP OfficeJet scanner working, and that prompted this blog entry…

I'm using Linux, and what can I do to solve a problem that I don't have the knowledge or expertise to even know where to start? Whom do I ask?

The first approach should be to evaluate and try to clearly identify the problem at hand. Is it definitely a software issue or definitely a hardware issue? If software, it is time to Read The Fine Manual (sometimes seen as RTFM). (Aside: If you ask someone for help that the manual addresses, exasperation can set in, and this will sometimes become Read The F^@#!@& Manual - if the answer truly is there, note that you are wasting someone else's precious time asking for something you didn't take your time to find...). If it is hardware, the first attempt should always be the manufacturer. Often this will be fruitless, but it still must be tried, as it may lead to an online forum, or another resource that can get you to a solution. Additionally, there may be updated drivers that address the specific problem you are experiencing (drivers are the glue that tie the physical hardware to the software world, and often there must be a direct match between the actual hardware and the actual software - never assume "any old" driver will work correctly (and don't blindly assume that the correct drivers are always flawless)).

At this point, if unable to figure anything out, or still completely baffled, it is time to understand there is no commercial entity that has any responsibility for your particular issue. With a dose of humility, understand it may be your inexperience or lack of a proper contextual model that is the barrier to finding the solution. File away any frustration and anger, open your mind to new possibilities, and start the quest to find the knowledge you need.

With that in mind, the next step is to reach out to the Linux community. We list several resources on our Quick Reference page, and a good place for a newbie (new person using Linux) is LinuxQuestions.org. You will want to do internet searches on different search engines and try rewording your searches to see if you can find solutions other people have posted in different forums. You may want to search based on a well formed question, specific error wording, what works and what doesn't, etc. You can also look for distro forums, hardware forums, user forums, or any active community that is relevant and has a relevant section for asking your question/posting your problem.

Some other items to consider are typical troubleshooting items. Try to duplicate the problem on a different system. If it is working on one system but not another, identify what is different (configuration, settings, connections, etc.). Refer to system logs (typically in /var/log). Learn some GNU/Linux command line tools for hardware - e.g. lsmod, lspci, lsusb, lsblk, dmesg. If network based, learn command line tools for networks - e.g. ping, ifconfig, nslookup, dig.

Finally, accept that not everything is guaranteed to work in Linux. If possible, find hardware and software that does work in Linux. The true open source approach would be to accept the challenge, and do the engineering to solve the problem, and then report and offer the solution back to the Linux community. Since this can fall outside of the realm of possibility for some, it is understandable that this particular solution is not realistic. So if some program or hardware only has Windows drivers, you may need to use VirtualBox or a commercial solution like VMWare to run a virtual machine and use that "Windows" solution to run the specific program or access the piece of hardware.

The key thing to keep in mind is that any Linux based operating system has been developed with millions of man hours over decades. If new to this environment, you should be respectful of all the work that has gone into the software, and be thankful for everything that does work correctly. Be prepared to share your results/experiences with others to help the whole community. If you have difficulties with hardware, put pressure on the hardware manufacturer to better support Linux.

Support Stories - Disc Data
written January 15, 2020 by Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog    #12
 

We've had 2 support events (and 1 personal experience) that we want to document to possibly help resolve customers that feel there is a problem with the disc(s) they've received. Always remember, the physical world (and computers) are not perfection in motion. We are doing pretty dang good, but understand that when it comes to quality, we triple verify downloads/discs, and use professional duplication equipment. In reality, I don't think in the 10+ years we've been doing this, there has been a real issue where the disc had the wrong data, or was unreadable. Not to say we are perfect, but we've had more issues with delivery services than anything related to the service we perform.

Issue #1 - don't believe everything you see. A customer was checking discs from an All Disc Debian purchase, and had several that did not generate the correct ISO MD5 sum (something like this). They insisted the discs were bad. and although we did ask them to try a different system, they were confident they were right. So they shipped all the discs back. We verified them on several systems and had to ship them back, suggesting that possibly their drive was failing. This was a great waste of time and money for everyone involved. It is always a good idea to check/verify discs in a different system, because it is possible that you have a rapidly spinning drive using a high-precision laser that may be wearing out... If the speed is wrong, or there is a wobble (bearings wearing out), you may get errant data from the drive. Moral of the story: Errant data could be a bad disc, but it also could be a bad drive.

Issue #2 - understand what you are looking at. Recently a customer was doing something similar with a Debian All Disc purchase, but copying the DVDs to a drive and doing directory listings to check things. When every disc past disc 2 had the same "files and folders", he figured the discs were not duplicated correctly. It took way too long to get to the point and explain that the packages are all in a pool folder, and the discs are built in an automated way, so if you don't actually compare the sub-folders, you won't see any differences. Luckily everything got resolved without shipping anything, but precious time was wasted. Moral of the story: What you believe and see may not be a correct representation of reality.

Issue #3 - software and hardware quirks. This is something I've seen over the years, and basically it is a disc change event that gets handled incorrectly. So you may swap discs, but the system doesn't think anything happened, so happily reports its cached data, which makes it seem like the new disc is the old disc. Usually you can do an eject or work with the disc to get things synced up again, but if there is a hardware issue, sometimes you have to shut down the system and restart, so there is no cached data anywhere to verify that it truly is a different disc. Moral of the story: Always keep a spare optical drive on your shelf.

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Blog Information

Lost or forgot Admin password (root user password)
March 25, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

What to expect from a Linux Disc
March 24, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

Issues with new Debian 10 install - no Desktop / login prompt only
March 14, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

Solving Problems
January 28, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

US Postage rates go up
January 28, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

Need a different operating system
January 25, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

Support Stories - Disc Data
January 15, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: SupportNote
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

The Facebook Link Conundrum
January 10, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

Welcome to the LinuxCollections.com Blog!
January 6, 2020
Time Traveler
Category: BlogEntry
Tags: LinuxCollections.com Blog
 

 
 

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