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As humans, we tend to forget things especially if all is stored in our minds. Is it possible to reset a forgotten root password on RHEL 8 / CentOS 8 Linux?. If this is your question, then the answer is YES. It is easy to reset your root password if you have an active user account with sudo privileges. All you need to do is run:

sudo passwd root

This will ask you for the new root password and confirmation. But what if you don’t have access to a local user with sudo privileges and can’t recover root password via other means. This leaves you with the manual password recovery on your RHEL 8 server from the Grub boot menu.

Step 1: Boot / reboot RHEL 8 server

The first step is bringing up RHEL 8 / CentOS 8 Linux system in the stopped state or rebooting a running RHEL / CentOS 8 system.

Step 2: Interrupt Boot process and reset root password on RHEL 8

Once you see the grub menu, press the “e” key in your keyboard to interrupt the boot process.

reset rhel 8 root password from grub 01
Press e as shown in the screenshot

This will show you the Kernel boot parameters. We will modify these options so as to reset the root password on RHEL 8. The default parameters configured looks like below.

reset rhel 8 root password from grub 02
remove ro crash from the line.

Under the linux line, Press <ctrl+e> to go to the end of line and delete “ro crash“, then add “rd.break” to look like below.

reset rhel 8 root password from grub 03

When done, press <Ctrl-x> to start system.

reset rhel 8 root password from grub 04

This will take you to a shell where you have to remount root of the system with rw flag since it is in read only mode.

mount -o remount,rw /sysroot

Switch to /sysroot directory and reset root password.

chroot /sysroot

Reset root password on RHEL 8 using the passwd command.


Enter desired password and confirm when prompted. Once password is set, enable SELinux relabeling on reboot and exit the console.

touch /.autorelabel

Screenshot below should help you visualize all reset actions.

reset rhel 8 root password from grub 05

The system will resume normal reboot and check SELinux policy against all system files and directories.

reset rhel 8 root password from grub 06

You’ll then see login screen similar to below. Login with root username and password provided during reset.

reset rhel 8 root password from grub 07

And boom!. You have successfully performed password reset of root user on RHEL 8 / CentOS 8. Well done.

  • Reset root password on RHEL 8
  • Reset root password on CentOS 8
  • Recover root password on CentOS 8

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