Mini9: I can't login or upgrade without my password. How can I reset my password ?

Created by Fabián Rodríguez on
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password reset mini9 inspiron recovery
Last updated by:
Fabián Rodríguez on

If you have an original Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu pre-installed, you may have a hard time entering the GRUB menu as the default delay is zero. This is particularly problematic if you're trying to reset your password using the passwd command.

First you need to boot into the recovery mode following these steps.

* This procedure may not work the first time it's tried. In order to make it easier to retry several times, remove the battery completely, turning off the machine to try again can be done instantly by removing the power cord. *

   1. Boot the mini 9 while pressing ESC every second
   2. When you see the "MBR 2FA:" prompt or similar, the boot process is stopped.
   3. Press ENTER and ESC very fast one after the other.
   4. You should then see the GRUB menu. If you don't, turn off the machine by removing the power plug and try again (step 1). Otherwise, using the up and down arrows, highlight the second option (ends with "recovery mode") and press ENTER to boot into recovery mode. Text will scroll and you will then see a black screen with this prompt (or similar):
root@ubuntu:~#

Once you get the root prompt you need to get your username. Type:
ls /home (followed by <ENTER>)

Please notice that command is LS in lowercase (not "Is" or "1s").

If you have only one user configured in the machine, the username will be whatever is shown as a result of the "ls /home" command. If you have several users on the machine, type:
getent passwd 1000 | cut -d : -f 1 (followed by <ENTER>)

Supposing your username is "james", the output would be:
james

Proceed to reset the password by issuing this command:

passwd james (followed by <ENTER>)

You will then be prompted twice for a new password.

IMPORTANT: There will be no feedback, it will seem like what you type is not being picked up by the computer, so you need to type the new password blindly:

Enter new UNIX password:
Retype new UNIX password:

Once the password has been successfully changed, you will get a confirmation message:

passwd: password updated successfully

You can then resume booting normally by typing Ctrl-D key (press the Ctrl key and hold it down, while pressing the D key).