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NeXTSTEP reset root password

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Method 1

Boot into single user mode (bsd -s at the boot prompt) and then you are  
logged in as root, but without netinfo. changing /etc/passwd might not help  
(because of netinfo).

I think you can now start up netinfo manually, but I am not sure how.

a dirty hack is to prepare a set-UID root script somewhere (/tmp) which will  
give you a root shell without password (see below). then type "exit", which  
will bring you into multi-user mode. log in as normal user and call your  
set-UID script (/tmp/g): now you have a root shell and can change the root  
passwd. don't forget to immediately delete your setUID script (rm /tmp/g)!

script (in /tmp/g):

#!/bin/csh -f -b
/bin/sh
#end

chown root /tmp/g
chmod a+x /tmp/g
chmod u+s /tmp/g

Method 2

To do so, break the boot process after the 'Testing system' message disappeared by pressing ALT-Comman-Tilde (~). You should get a monitor prompt 'NeXT>'.

Now enter 'bsd -s' to boot in single user mode. If the system asks for another password, a hardware password is set. If you don't know this password, you are lost, until you remove the clock battary from the motherboard to clear the boot ROM.

When the system boots, it will stop after mountin the root filesystem. From there you are root and can do any dirty trick you want to do. E.g. change the passwords with the NetInfo utilities etc.
In general, when you received a used system, you want to restore the system to a 'virgin' state, e.g. to reset all settings as if it were just installed. To do so, copy the system template files to the working directories. In most cases, copying the etc directory tree is enough:

cp -Rp /usr/template/client/etc /etc

Now type 'reboot' and the system should reboot without presenting a login window. You'll be booted into the so called 'me' account. No password is set for the whole system. It isn't a good idea to setup network connectivity now, without any passwords set. Enter 'Preferences' (the clock/date-symbol) and set a password. Log out and you'll see the login screen. Now login as root (no password) and set a password for root, too.