Linux Change Password

September 8, 2019

How do I change my own password as well as the passwords of other users as required under Linux operating system without using GUI systems? How can I change or set user password on Linux operating systems?

You can use the passwd command to change your password, and, as a system administrator, change the password of the root account, or another user in your Linux system. The syntax is as follows:



passwd {userName}


passwd [option] userNameHere

Task: Linux Change Your Own Password

Login using the ssh client or open a command-line terminal (select Applications > Accessories > Terminal), than type the following command:
$ passwd
First, the user is prompted for their current password. If the current password is correctly typed, a new password is requested. The new password must be entered twice to avoid typing errors. Running passwd command with no arguments will allow you to change your own password.

Task: Linux Change root’s User Password

To change root’s password, you must first login as root user or use sudo / su command to obtain root’s credentials. To become the root user, enter:
$ su -l
$ sudo -s
To change root’s password, enter:
# passwd

WARNING! You can change root’s password only if you are logged in as the root user!

Task: Linux Change Another User’s Password

To change the password of another user, login as root and type:
# passwd userNameHere
# passwd tom
# passwd jerry

A note about protecting your password

Your password unlocks your account and all data on Linux. So you need to protect your password. Here are some simple tips:

  • Please do not write down your password. You need to memorize it.
  • Do not use the same password for all your accounts including ssh, git, file and email servers. Use unrelated passwords for systems controlled by different organizations.
  • Do not share or give your password, in particular to some one claiming to be from computer IT support department or a vendor.
  • Make sure no one watch you enter your password.
  • Change password periodically.
  • Choose a hard-to-guess password. Avoid using the following passwords:
    • Simple words or words that you’d find in a dictionary.
    • Do not use your name including that of a spouse, child, pet, city and so on.
    • Do not use your birhdate, ssn/pan, phone/mobile number and driving license numbers.
  • A good password consists of:
    • Mixture of upper and lower case letters, as well as digits or punctuation.
    • At least 8 characters long.

Password example

  • Passphrase : I love Pizza and Beer.
  • Take the first letter of each word in a passphrase – I l P a B
  • Add digits: I2 l P a9B
  • Add special character: I2+l P&a9B
  • Add other characters: qI2+lUP&a9Bw

See how to generate a random password using the shell and/or mkpasswd command.

Storing password securely

Use personal password manager to store all passwords in a securely encrypted file. I recommend:

  1. gpass application.
  2. See a list of 7 apps that works under OS X/Linux and MS-Windows to store passwords.

Getting Help

Anytime you need assistance with Linux passwd command-line, turn to the man page first. It will give you detailed information, parameters and switches for passwd command. For example, man passwd opens the man page for the passwd command:
$ man passwd
$ man 5 passwd

See also

Posted by: SXI ADMIN

The author is the creator of SXI LLC and a seasoned sysadmin, DevOps engineer, and a trainer for the Linux operating system/Unix shell scripting. Get the latest tutorials on SysAdmin, Linux/Unix and open source topics via RSS/XML feed or weekly email newsletter.

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