I started a new Linux install with PXE and skipped the part where you create a new user. Now when I boot, the GUI login screen comes up asking for login info which I don't have because I didn't create any users (only root).

How can I actually access the OS? Single-User mode?


The root user should always exist by default.

If you installed over PXE it's likely that you used a kickstart file.

If that's, true the kickstart file could have the root password in cleartext (this is a bad practice, but still possible). You should be able to find where the kickstart file is located by checking the files in /var/log/tftpboot/linux-install/pxelinux.cfg/.

Root Account

If you have the root password you can simply log into the root account. On the GUI login you can usually select "other user" and enter the username root, then enter the password.

Alternatively you can switch TTYS and login (press CTRL + ALT + F2). You'll get a text based login screen, just enter root as the username and enter the password. When you're finished CTRL + ALT + F1 or CTRL + ALT + F7 should usually take you back to your graphical screen.

As MichaelKjörling mentioned, some Linux distros restrict access to the root account. This can mean you'll be forced to use a different TTY or prevent this method completely.


If the root password isn't available you can try booting into single-user, assuming grub doesn't have a password configured (or you know the grub password).

When you reach the grub menu you should be able to press e to edit a line. If grub has a password it will prompt you here. Add single to the end of the grub command line and boot it (normally ctrl + x I believe) and you should get a root terminal where you can add a user and change passwords.

Live Distro

If you boot a live distro on your machine, mount your local drive and chroot to it you'll have a root terminal that's essentially within your filesystem, and you can add and modify users like you normally would.

If none of these work for you, you'll probably have to reinstall.

  • thanks! I will try this later today! btw i do know the root password, does that change anything? Sep 15 '16 at 18:53
  • @user3470987 wow, that makes it really easy then, I will update my answer.
    – Centimane
    Sep 15 '16 at 18:55
  • @user3470987 you can just log in as the root user and add/change accounts
    – Centimane
    Sep 15 '16 at 19:00
  • OK, when I attempted to log in with the GUI login using root it didn't work, but I will try that TTYS method. Thanks for the help! Sep 15 '16 at 19:02
  • As much as I enjoy the rep, feel free to hold off on accepting the answer until you're sure it solves your problem. If the GUI method didn't accept the root password, then there's a good chance you either typoed or are mistaken on the root password, because the TTY login queries /etc/shadow the same way.
    – Centimane
    Sep 15 '16 at 19:13

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