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How to change your UNIX/Linux password

TIP We are currently migrating all machines from NIS to LDAP/Kerberos. If you have trouble loggin in, please read the Kerberos-topic in our wiki.


It takes only a few steps to change your password.

Step 1: Access to the command line ...

... from Linux

If you are working on any GSI Linux machine (hostname begins with lx...) with a graphical user interface you only have to open a command line window (terminal), e.g. konsole for KDE or xterm. The corresponding button in the KDE panel looks like a monitor, simply click on this icon.

... from Windows

If you are working with Windows you'll have to open a session to a Linux machine via ssh using a Secure Shell Client. The following screenshots show the usage of putty:

ssh connection with putty

To start a connection you'll have to enter as the "Host Name", then click on the button Open. In the console window you can enter your Linux account name and your actual (i.e. old) UNIX/Linux password (see screenshot for Step 2 below).

Step 1.5: Accepting the server key

If you are connecting to a ssh server for the first time you'll have to accept its ssh key. To ensure that the target belongs to the host group you may compare its fingerprint with the value on this page, then click Ja, OK or any corresponding button of your Windows client. For Linux clients you'll have to type yes and hit [Return].

accepting the ssh server key

Step 2a: Change your password on a Kerberos-client (e.g.

Use the command passwd There are password conditions on these machines:
  1. At least 10 characters
  2. English uppercase characters (A through Z)
  3. English lowercase characters (a through z)
  4. Base 10 digits (0 through 9)
  5. Nonalphanumeric characters (e.g., !, $, #, %)

Step 2b: Change your password on a NIS-Client (e.g.

Now type the command passwd in the command line window and press [Return]. The system now tells you Changing NIS account information for user on aixnis01., where user should be your account name, while aixnis01 is the name of the password server.

changing your Linux password

In the following dialogue you have to enter your old password once, then your (hopefully strong) new password twice (please notice that your entry is neither colored nor visible, no *, just nothing). If everything worked correctly, a line like The NIS password has been changed on aixnis01. reports success.

Step 3: Close the session

Don't forget to close the command line session after finishing your work. You can logout by typing exit and pressing [Return]. In case of remote sessions the network connection is terminated also.


Q: I've forgotten my old UNIX/Linux password, how can I reset it?
A: Please contact the UserHelpDesk (SB3 1.247, -2515).

Q: My proposed new password isn't accepted, why that?
A: You'll have to use a "strong" password with upper and lower case characters, some "weak" passwords are declined.

Q: How can I create a "strong" password?
A: Have a look at this website.

Q: I've just changed my password but I cannot logon with the new password. What's wrong?
A1: It takes some time to distribute the changed password over the network, so you'll have to wait a few minutes.
A2: Make sure that you are using your NIS password in the old, and your Kerberos password in the new environment (see Kerberos).
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Topic revision: r15 - 2018-03-15, StefanHaller