Gateway E-3400 computer has WIndows 98 SE plus Ubuntu - Don't have login name

Asked by jmksd on 2011-01-16

I received this computer from a school. It uses Ubuntu. I upgraded to Ubuntu 9.1, but it could not install everything. Hard drive error msg occurred.

 Has 254 KB total memory and has an Intel Celeron M processor 1.50GHZ. I don't know the desktop login and have tried to change the password to no avail. Is there anyway to wipe out the hard drive and start over? I need the login info and the password to manage the system.

The hard drive error msg does not occur any more since I upgraded to Ubuntu 9.1. Also is there anyway to access the Windows information? My kids want to use it to play games on line ,listen to music, and watch Youtube. So far this is not possible with Ubuntu.

Thank you for your help.

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Ubuntu adduser Edit question
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Solved by:
Eliah Kagan
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jmksd (jmksd) said : #1

I also did the ls /home thing to change my password. It accepted it, but when I tried to use it, I received a msg that said that my password was incorrect.

marcus aurelius (adbiz) said : #2

did you reboot the system?

You might just want to wipe the disk and reinstall Ubuntu. Who knows what's wrong with the existing system! You also might want to run some kind of low-level disk checking utility on the hard drive, if you're getting hard disk error messages.

To wipe the disk and start over, boot from the Ubuntu Desktop Install CD (of whatever version of Ubuntu you want to use), and install Ubuntu, telling it to use the entire hard disk.

Since the computer doesn't have much RAM (I presume you meant it had 254 MB of RAM, rather than 254 kB, but 254 MB is still a very small amount these days), you might want to install a lighter-weight flavor of Ubuntu, like Xubuntu ( The unofficial Ubuntu flavor called Lubuntu ( is lighter-weight still, but it is less intuitive than Xubuntu for novices. Ubuntu Netbook Edition is slightly lighter weight than Ubuntu Desktop Edition, as well.

However, if you want to keep the existing Ubuntu system and gain administrative access to it, using a technique that doesn't require inspection of the entries in /home, then do the following:

Boot from an Ubuntu Desktop Install CD (any recent version of Ubuntu is fine), and select "Try Ubuntu." Once the desktop comes up, go to System > Administration > GParted Partition Editor. This allows you to view the partitions on the hard drive. You want to find a big partition that is formatted either ext3 or ext4. It is most likely to be /dev/hda1 or /dev/sda1 (though it might be something else, like /dev/hda3 or /dev/sda3). It might be the only ext3/ext4 partition--in that case, identifying it is easy. Once you've found it, you can quit GParted.

Now let's suppose that the partition is called /dev/hda1 (if it's called something else, substitute that for /dev/hda1 when /dev/hda1 appears in the rest of these instructions). Open up a Terminal window (Applications > Accessories > Terminal), and enter the command:

sudo mount /dev/hda1 /mnt

If the command produces no output, then it succeeded.

Now run the command:

ls /mnt

If the output of that command looks something like

bin etc initrd.img.old media proc selinux tmp vmlinuz
boot home lib mnt root srv usr vmlinuz.old
dev initrd.img lost+found opt sbin sys var

then /dev/hda1 (or whatever you replaced it with) is indeed the partition that contains the installed Ubuntu system's root filesystem (which is what you want).

Now run the command

sudo chroot /mnt

followed by

adduser newuser

(where newuser is replaced with whatever you want your username to be on the system).

Enter the password and full name that you want. If you don't want to put anything for one of the prompts, just press enter. Affirm that the information is correct, and then run:

usermod -a -G adm,dialout,cdrom,plugdev,lpadmin,sambashare,admin newuser

That gives the new user account that you've created for yourself all the privileges of the first user, created when you install a fresh Ubuntu system.

Now run these three commands:

sudo umount /mnt

The last of those commands quits the Terminal window. Reboot the system by clicking the power icon on the upper-right corner of the screen and clicking Restart. Make sure to remove the CD before the system boots up again, so that you can get into the Ubuntu system installed on the hard disk. Log in with the username (e.g. newuser) and password you specified when you ran the "adduser" command. (If the graphical login screen gives a list of users instead of a textbox, then you'll be selecting the full name you specified, rather than your username.)

As for playing games online, listening to music, and watching YouTube videos, I do all those things regularly on my Ubuntu system! Ubuntu doesn't have the ability to run most high-end graphics-intensive games (because their developers do not usually make versions that run on Linux-based operating systems like Ubuntu). However, Windows 98 will also not run high-end graphics-intensive games. In fact, Windows 98 will not run *anything* remotely new. And that machine's hardware isn't capable of running high-end games either. If you want to run a Windows system on that computer, and you can get a copy of Windows FLP, that might work out reasonably well...but Windows FLP is not quite as easy to set up and maintain as more common versions of Windows. (And that still won't enable you to use the system for high-end gaming.)

This is a bit off-topic for the Ubuntu support tracker, but... If you really want to get into the Windows 98 system, it shouldn't be difficult to do so, since Windows 98 wasn't really a multi-user operating system. If a "login screen" comes up when you boot into Windows 98, asking you to enter your password for Microsoft Networking, just press the escape key. If access to the Windows 98 system is controlled by a Novell Netware login screen, then press F1 for help, and then go to File > Open, type in *.* and press enter, and then you can browse through all the files on the system (including programs) and run whatever programs you like. The useful programs are typically C:\Windows\ (which gives you a console to run commands), C:\Windows\explorer.exe (which provides the standard interface, so running it gives you something similar to what you get by logging on), and, if I remember correctly, C:\Windows\musrmgr.exe (the program that lets you change the Novell configuration--you can make it allow you access in the future).

jmksd (jmksd) said : #4

Yes I did reboot the system - same issue. I have ordered the Xbuntu CD and will report back when I receive it to do the next steps. Thank you! I have a print out of my computer and it says: Cache size - 256kb, Total Memory - 254820 kB, Free Memory - 64048 kB. I tried to download the Xbuntu to save to a CD. but I wasn't successful. Thank you again.

Do you want assistance with you problem downloading the Xubuntu Desktop Install CD? If so, please describe in detail what you did, and what happened. If you want help, please include information about the system you're using to attempt the download. Specifically, please specify the type of internet connection (dial-up, ISDN, DSL, Cable), what operating system you're using to download the CD image, and the name of the program you're using to perform the download (for example, this might be the name of your web browser).

If you're using a dial-up Internet connection, then downloading the Xubuntu Desktop Install CD would take a very, very long time (during which time your phone line would be tied up), and would be likely to be interrupted. If you are using a dial-up connection but you are willing to be online for the very long time that is required to download the CD image, then you may want to use some kind of download manager, so that you can resume the download after it has been interrupted. Some web browser provide this functionality as well.

jmksd (jmksd) said : #6

I'm still waiting for the Kubuntu CD to arive, but in the meantime of tinkering, I have discovered a username and created a new password! So now I have administrative rights. So now I am back to your first suggestion to wipe the disk and install Xubuntu.

Thank you very Much!!!!!

jmksd (jmksd) said : #7

Thanks Eliah Kagan, that solved my question.