If the root password for a Unix system is lost or forgotten, it can be very difficult to regain root access and perform further administration work. Often it will be impossible. You could be lucky – there might be a user account with sudo access, or even a root shell still open on the system somewhere, for example on the system console. If the system is x86, you might be able to boot it from a live CD and restore root access by doctoring the root disk. Otherwise, with most systems (physical and virtual), it will often be a case of rebuilding the system from scratch.
Solaris is a bit different. It has long been possible with Solaris to regain root access by booting the physical system from a Solaris installation CD, mounting the original root disk and removing the root password string from the relevant file, usually /etc/shadow. The same technique works, surprisingly, with SPARC virtual systems, aka LDOMs. Proceed as follows. Continue reading