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GNU/Linux Desktop Survival Guide
by Graham Williams
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Resetting Passwords


If you can't log in to a MW/Windows computer because you have lost/forgotten your password, then use Live Linux CD and the chntpw application. This should work for all NT-based version of Windows (Windows 2000 and later, including Windows 7).

Note that encrypted files on the MW/Windows hard disk encrypted (using the built-in Windows encryption) may not be available after changing the Windows password as we describe here.

Boot your computer from the System Rescue CD (sourceforge.net/projects/systemrescuecd/ to obtain a command line.

Mount the MS/Windows disk. It might be /dev/sda1 or /dev/sda2.

$ ntfs-3g /dev/sda1 /mnt/windows
$ ls /mnt/windows

We should see in the directory listing a WINDOWS folder, and under that a system32 folder. If not, then it might be the wrong partition. So try /dev/sda2.

Then:

$ cd WINDOWS/system32/config/

The file SAM contains the Windows registry, which includes the passwords.

To list the users we can use the command:

$ chntpw –l SAM

To change or reset the administrator password, enter:

$ sudo chntpw SAM

Some text will appear and we will see a list of all of the users of the system.

At the ``User Edit Menu:'' prompt at the bottom of the terminal window choose to clear the password to blank. We can always set a new password in Windows once you log in. To do this, enter ``1'' and then ``y'' to confirm.

To reset or change the password of a user other than the administrator, enter:

$ sudo chntpw –u <username> SAM

Then reboot into MS/Windows.

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