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Regain access to a user-account using ot-reset-pw

logo - workaround

NOT TO BE USED AT PRODUCTIVE SYSTEMS! You have to read, understand and accept the disclaimer .

You are using ot-reset-pw at your own risk! There is no guarantee - neither implicitly nor explicitly - given, that using ot-reset-pw wont affect your system in some negative way.

You are allowed to use ot-reset-pw to recover access to your personal linux-installation.

Commercial use, or using ot-reset-pw to unlock user-accounts of third-party persons or organizations is explicitly prohibited.

Trying to gain illegal access to third-party computer systems is a serious crime in several countries.

@beta-test version

Be aware: This software is in beta-test at the moment and not being released to public yet; see @beta-test - coverage and Known issues for more details...

About ot-reset-pw

ot-reset-pw is used to regain access to a user-account, where the credentials have been lost. ot-reset-pw does setup a new password, which only requires you to press the RETURN (ENTER) key.

You will typically use a live-linux (mint) and run ot-reset-pw there, to unlock an account of an installed linux (mint) this way.

ot-reset-pw creates a backup of the credentials-file '/etc/shadow' (of the installed OS) at '/etc/shadow-backup*' before applying any changes. If creating a backup fails for any reason, ot-reset-pw will not continue.

To run ot-reset-pw, you need sudo-permission to be able to gain root-rights. At a live-mint the predefined user 'mint' does use an empty password; press RETURN (ENTER), if being asked for a password.

How to use

Download the latest version of ot-reset-pw from: orcus.de: ot-reset-pw-001.py and run it using the preinstalled python (python 2 or python 3 should work both).

# open a terminal and run
cd ~/Downloads
wget https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-reset-pw-001.py
python ot-reset-pw-001.py


If you are not using linux mint or wget is not available for some reason use curl instead:

# open a terminal and run
cd ~/Downloads
curl -O https://www.orcus.de/Entities/linux/ot-reset-pw-001.py
python ot-reset-pw-001.py


If ot-reset-pw is run without root-rights, it offers to reload itself using sudo-credentials. At a live-mint the predefined user 'mint' does use an empty password; press RETURN (ENTER), if being asked for a password.

logo - linux mint 19.3 showing running ot-reset-pw

1) Read and accept the Disclaimer to proceed.

2) Select the volume (partition) of your installed linux and use the 'mount' button. This will mount the volume and offer available account-data.

3) Select the according user-account and use the 'clear pw' button. This will create a backup of the credentials-file first, and then reset the pw of the according user-account.

Showing a success-message, the volume is released again and ot-reset-pw does quit. The account should be unlocked now.

Boot the installed linux afterwards, using the unlocked user-account and set a new password, using the 'passwd'-command. Just press RETURN (ENTER) if being asked for the old password.


1) The initial shown volumes are filtered to show ext-filesystems only. If you are using a different filesystem, the volume-combobox might be empty. To show all available volumes: uncheck the 'ext-only' option button.

2) After using the 'mount' button nothing is shown at the 'account' combobox: a) The label of the button does still show 'mount': the volume cant be mounted. You either did select a volume, which does not offer a supported filesystem. or there are filesystem errors (ot-reset-pw wont touch the fs at this state). Select the 'right' volume (or repair a broken filesystem first). b) The label of the button does show 'umount' (un-mount), but there are no entries shown: You did likely pick the wrong volume = there is no account-data available. Use the 'umount'-button and select the 'right' volume.

@beta-test - coverage

Internally tested linux versions are (using an almost default-setup, fully updated):


I often can be found as 'orcus' at the #linuxmint-help support channel at spotchat.irc (is the preconfigured channel of the hexchat-irc tool of linux mint). As I attend the mint-forum or community-website only rarely, prefer to email at: mailto:beta-test@orcus.de?subject=ot-reset-pw-001 for offline messaging.

Known issues

MDM (lmde2)

Using MDM as login-manager (default for lmde2 setups), does not allow to use the "empty" entry to login - as it does internally handle an empty pw-entry field as an illegal input and wont proceed.

Switch to a text-console using CTRL+ALT+F1 and login there instead (does accept the empty pw). If you own a localized keyboard, first check by typing some special characters like !"&# - if you are using the default en-us keyboard layout at the moment: test-type your new pw before using it, to be sure you wont end up at unexpected characters. Run the 'passwd' command afterwards, just press RETURN (ENTER) if being asked for the old pw and enter a new pw 2 times. When done run: 'sudo reboot' and login using the new pw.

(* LMDE2 using lightdm for login is not affected. LMDE3 does use lightdm as default and is generally not affected.)

arch linux

As arch linux does NOT use a graphical live-linux - ot-reset-pw cant be used there.

If using/"abusing" ot-reset-pw to "clear" a pw for a user-account at the installed OS (which is not recommended): If using the lxde desktop and trying to run ot-reset-pw might show, that the gtk-setup at arch is missing a required python-gobject (for python 3) and/or python2-gobject package.

To install the packages for both python versions use:

sudo pacman -S python-gobject python2-gobject


After that ot-reset-pw can be run.

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