Used Linux Mint Bootable USB to Fix Windows Server 2003

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Today I was asked by one of our server administrators who was off site, if I knew how to reset the local administrator account on a Windows 2003 Server that was not communicating with the domain.  I said yes, “let me get my Linux Mint USB stick and I can reset the password.”

The server was an old HP ML370 with a RAID configuration and 4GB of RAM.  Once I was in Linux Mint 9, I mounted the local hard drive and navigated to the %systemroot%\System32\config folder.  I right click that folder and selected Open Terminal here.  Here is the reference document I use:

  1. Open Nautilus and mount Windows HDD.
  2. Right click Windows folder and select Open in Terminal.
  3. Type cd System32/config and press Enter.
  4. If account is Administrator enter sudo chntpw SAM.
  5. If any other account enter sudo chntpw -u <account> SAM.
  6. From menu select function.
  7. Write hive files.

After rebooting the server I was able to log in as the local administrator and complete the repairs.  Another justification for every IT Technician (server administrator or on-site workstation support) should have multiple tools to repair any computer on-site.

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