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So, I'm writing a script that needs to modify the such a file but from the partition of a non booted OS (for example from a livCD to a OS installed on another drive) and I was wondering if, given I mount the Drive correctly, I will always find it in /path/to/mounted/drive/etc/passwd or if it is possible/common to have it somewhere else. Moreover, if it is possible, do I have a quicker way to find it than to use the find bash command?

  • That sounds like a XY problem. How do you want to modify that file? Usually, one would chroot into the other system and use that system's passwd (or passwd -R), to be honest. – Zeta Oct 18 '18 at 19:21
  • @Zeta I know I know, the idea is more of a proof of concept for a python script, so I want to go there and read and modify it for reasons but I'd like to know if I can "shot at it" at the usual path or if I should keep in mind some other positions or even use a search in the whole partition. – Tsadoq Oct 18 '18 at 19:27
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In file /etc/libuser.conf there are two sections:

[files]
Configures the files module, which manages /etc/group and /etc/passwd. The configuration variables are probably useful only for libuser development.
    directory - The directory containing the group and passwd files.  Default value is /etc.
    nonroot - Allow module initialization when not invoked as the root user if the value is yes.

[shadow]
Configures the files module, which manages /etc/gshadow and /etc/shadow. The configuration variables are probably useful only for libuser development.
    directory - The directory containing the gshadow and shadow files.  Default value is /etc.
    nonroot - Allow module initialization when not invoked as the root user if the value is yes.

So to answer your question: yes, the location of passwd file can be changed.

You should also be aware that modifying passwords from outside the system can be tricky if SELinux is enabled.

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