This issue has happened to me quite some times now. I’ve had multiple VCD environments where the root account magically closed up and/or the account simply expired. This resulted in a boat load of issues that were not easy to understand at first, until I had a look at the root account password expiration, or simply by the fact that I was not able to login to the VCD Cells anymore. Just for this issue here I wanted to create a really quick blogpost that captures the essentials in this and explains it in just a couple of steps what you need to do to either unlock the VCD cell root account and make sure it doesn’t happen anytime soon.

So usually the root account needs to have it’s password changed each year. You can check this on your own environment by running the chage -l root command. This will display the following in normal circumstances:

Now you can see that the root user will need to have the password changes each year. Personally I agree with this since it makes the environment more secure, however changing the root password, also means you have to update the appliance certificate private key which is a hassle. If you don’t want to do this each year, you can just simply disable the root account password expiration, by entering the following command:

This will make sure you only need to change the password each 99999 days (273 years). This will be sufficient. Once you did this re-enter chage -l root and see the results:

Another pro tip. If you find yourself in the situation that you cannot login to the VCD Cells anymore and you wish to change this, execute the following steps:

  • Reboot the VCD Appliance(s).
  • Press e during boot to enter the GRUB Loader.
  • Behind the line that starts with linux /$photon enter rw init=/bin/bash. Press F10 to start the environment.
  • Once this is booted you can use the pam_tally2 command set to unlock the user and reset it.
  • Enter pam_tally2 --reset --user root
  • Once this is done you can check if the account is still locked with pam_tally2 --user root

Now reboot the appliance with reboot -f and once the VCD Cell comes back up you have succesfully unlocked your VCD Cell root account.

I hope this quick blogpost helps everybody when they have issues with their VCD Cells.

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