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Changing the Root Password in the Global Zone

Because the Global Zone boots into a ramdisk, it's not obvious how to make the most common change requested in that "ephemeral" environment: changing root's password.

The /etc/shadow file is actually a file from the /usbkey filesystem on the persistent zpool, which is "lofs-mounted" over the file in the ramdisk-backed /etc filesystem. That mountpoint isn't writable by normal means (see below for details), so to change that, you'll want to make this change:

umount /etc/shadow
cp /usbkey/shadow /etc/shadow
passwd root
cp /etc/shadow /usbkey/shadow

This change will persist after reboots, because you've copied it back to the /usbkey/shadow location. After a reboot, /etc/shadow will again be an un-writable lofs mountpoint.

Alternately, you can (carefully) edit the hash in the /usbkey/shadow file with a new one. The program /usr/lib/cryptpass will generate a valid hash:

# /usr/lib/cryptpass somepassword

... this method will require a reboot to take effect.