Had to reset my password on a couple of client servers today, and despite following the rules I get the message "Your password failed to meet: minimum of 2 non-alphabetic characters" back from the AIX server (the Solaris box doesn't give error messages so just keeps prompting for new password)

The passwords I have tried include things like arstdyfu12445!! so I'm definitely including non-alphabetic characters.

3 Answers 3


An update from a colleague, which I have just tested:

12arstdyfu445!! works

It seems that for some legacy reason, the password strength rules need to be adhered to within the first 8 characters of the password.

I will do some hunting around to see if this is applicable to all AIX and Solaris versions, but I hadn't managed to find an answer when googling through the IBM manuals available.

  • 1
    Could be the case that password themselves are truncated to 8 chars! See: http://www.aixmind.com/?p=490 Commented May 4, 2011 at 14:11
  • @MrShunz - nope. @Caleb thought that, but I tested up to 20 chars.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 14:20
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    I am an AIX newbie and it has already started showing its "frustrating potential" to me.. had it not been for this answer, I would have wasted hours.. or maybe locked the account. Commented May 15, 2013 at 2:30

AIX by default for versions 6.1 and earlier uses crypt which only accepts 8 Charaters. With you original password AIX only saw lowercase characters


Are you sure it is saying "alphabetic" and not "alphanumeric"? The password sample you show only has one non alphanumeric character (repeated twice).

Also try putting the non alpha characters closer to the start of the password; perhaps the password quality check code wants to see the rules applied before the Nth character or something.

  • Yeah - it's alphabetic, but you are right by it being before the Nth char, where N=9. Seems undocumented, but has the same behaviour on the Solaris and AIX boxen.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 11:17
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    The <Nth character was a stab in the dark based less on AIX/Solaris knowledge as nonsense I've run into elsewhere.
    – Caleb
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 11:20
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    I hadn't seen that behaviour before, and I've been in the Unix admin side of things since late 1983 (early Sys V I think) - you are absolutely right about it being nonsense that should be sorted out! :-)
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 11:28
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    I was still in diapers then! Actually I haven't seen this on the Unix side so much as password systems that have dumb hash systems that end up only saving/comparing the first N characters no matter how long you think your password is. Out of curiosity, see if you can login with >8th character being something other than your password. Windows NT used to do this at 25 chars and several bank API's I know of still do it at 8.
    – Caleb
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 11:43
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    in testing, it definitely looks the full length of the password (have checked with a 20 char password, and changing the final char makes a difference) but only checks the first 8 for compliance with the rules!
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 13:13

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