How to Change the Password Command in Linux


Linux is a multi-user computer operating system, through which each user has his own account. All files and preferences are kept in the user's home directory, and password protection keeps prying eyes and mischevous fingers from altering these files. Still, a user is urged to change his password regularly--more frequently if many users share the system. Fortunately, you can change your user password in just a very few minutes with a Linux shell command. Your system administrator can use this command if you can't remember your user password.

Things You'll Need

  • Linux operating system
  • Account access
  • Decide on a new password. You will want one that is easy to remember, but not easy to duplicate. Don't just use your wife's name or dog's name; that's too easy to crack. The best passwords have a mix of upper-case letters, lower-case letters and numerals. You may add punctuation marks.

  • Open a command shell in Linux. Depending on the distribution and graphical interface, go to the "Start" or "Menu" command. Locate and click on the menu command--usually it will be called "Terminal."

  • Type "passwd" (without the quotes) in your command shell, and hit the "Enter" key.

  • Enter your old password.

  • Type in your new password and hit "Enter." All passwords are case-sensitive, so an upper-case "M" does not mean the same thing as a lower-case "m."

  • Try a different password if you get a warning that the new password is too simple. Depending on the system, you may or may not be able to continue if your password is too easy to crack.

  • Repeat your new password when prompted, typing it exactly the same way as before. If you did this correctly, a new prompt will tell you your password has been changed. Remember your password.

  • If you have root access, you can change user passwords without typing in the existing password first. This is useful if you--or the user--cannot remember the password. As root, you can also change the root password.

  • Most Linux distributions have a password management program, and the program is sometimes tied to the graphical user interface. KDE has the kuser program to administer users and passwords, and Gnome has the User and Group Management Tool.

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