I performed a Fedora core 4 installation today, and for some reason the root password I typed in during the installation got munged (or I typed it incorrectly two times). Since Fedora Core uses grub as a boot loader, I was able to recover from this situation relatively quickly.
To get to a shell where I could use the passwd(1) utility or vi(P) to change the password, I first needed to reboot the box to get to the grub menu. Once I was greeted with the grub menu, I used the up and down arrow keys to select a kernel, and then hit the ‘e’ key to edit the boot paramaeters. Once the editor displayed the kernel boot string, I added a 1 immediately following the LABEL definition:
kernel /boot/vmlinuz-2.6.11-1.1369_FC4 ro root=LABEL=/ 1 rhgb quiet
The number following the LABEL definition indicates the run level to boot into, and in this case 1 refers to single user mode. Once you finish editing the boot definition, you can hit ‘b’ to boot. This will boot to single user mode, and should dump you into a shell if everything goes well. Once your in the shell, you can use passwd(1) or vi(P) to update the root users password. Since I haven’t tinkered with grub for quite some time, this experience reminded me how important physical security and grub passwords are!