Logging in as Root in Ubuntu with Live CD

We just had a little contretemps as we attempted to replace system files on our Windows XP embedded machine with a new image. The easiest way we’ve found to copy the files is to run an Ubuntu Linux Live CD, which boots up a Linux desktop. Since the default user in the Linux desktop is guest, the user does not have privileges to replace the files a second time. To get around this, you have to log in using the root account. Steps:

1. in the original desktop, under the security tab for logins, be sure to check the box “allow local administrator to log in” under system->administration->login window.

2. Open a terminal session

3. type sudo passwd root

4. enter a password for the root user

5. re-enter a password for the root

6. shutdown – change user, and log in as root with your new password.

Background: There are three sort of funny things about this process for users who are not familiar with Ubuntu.

1. Ubuntu does not install a root user account by default. Or, maybe it installs the account, but it doesn’t allow its use. Thus, the act of assigning a password to the root user account is necessary to activate the account.

2. Even if you have a valid root account set up, by default Ubuntu does not allow you to log into a standard Gnome desktop. That’s why you have the change the setting in the security preferences.

2. In this example, since we are using the Live CD, you have do step 1 first. If you restart the computer from scratch all configuration settings are lost, because the Live CD does not allow you to permanently write anything to the disk.


In any case, this solved our problem; we were able to blow away the system files on our target hard drive C:, so that we were able to copy a fresh version of our XPe image to the drive.

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