Digging yourself out of a hole


It's easy to use the admin shell to recover from situations such as a forgotten root password, as well as more drastic situations.

Boot from CD

First, log into your admin shell. Shut down your virtual machine:

[myvps] admin> shutdown
[myvps] admin> poweroff

Tell the virtual machine to boot from CD.

[myvps] admin> boot cdrom

Normally, the current CD will be whatever you installed the OS from, and this is a good choice for simple tasks, such as resetting the root password. If you want to do something more complicated, such as recovering deleted files, one option is the system rescue CD. You can select this CD with the following command.

[myvps] admin> cdrom systemrescuecd-x86-4.4.1

Now start the virtual machine with the following command.

[myvps] admin> start

Connect a VNC client

You will need to connect a VNC client to communicate with your virtual machine. Use the following command at the admin shell to get the VNC connection details.

[myvps] admin> status

Boot to recovery mode

We will assume you are using the Debian CD. Most Linux distros offer a similar recovery mode, but the details will be different.

  • Select Advanced optionsRescue mode.
  • Select a language, location, and keyboard from the next 3 menu screens.
  • Wait for the CD to find various components and configure the network.
  • If you are invited to configure a hostname and domain name, you can accept the defaults.
  • Now you will be asked to choose a root filesystem. Unless you chose an unusual partitioning scheme when you installed the OS, the highlighted option /dev/sda1 will usually be correct.
  • Finally, choose the highlighted option Execute a shell in /dev/sda1.

Perform your recovery steps

At this point, you will be at a root shell prompt, and you can perform any recovery steps you need. For the case of resetting the root password, all you need to type is the passwd command.


When you are finished, exit the recovery shell with the command exit. This will return you to the last menu; this time you can choose the Reboot the system option. This will reboot from the CD, so you need to go back to the admin shell, and reconfigure booting from disk.

[myvps] admin> shutdown
[myvps] admin> poweroff
[myvps] admin> boot disk
[myvps] admin> start

More help?

If you need further help, please email support for advice. If you have a complicated recovery situation, or one which you think is beyond your expertise, we may be able to help on a chargeable consultancy basis—please ask.