vi-admin password reset on a vMA 5

With vSphere 5 came a new version of the vSphere Management Assistant (from now on: vMA 5). For more information on deploying and using the vMA 5, please read the “vSphere Management Assistant Guide”.

Previous versions of the vMA 5 were based on a CentOS 5.3 release. This new version is based on SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 and has besides the traditional console, the familiar Web GUI, also be found on other VMware appliances.

On the vMA 5, the root account has been disabled, instead, the vi-admin account can perform the administrative operations. In case you have forgotten vi-admin’s password, you need to boot the vMA in single user mode and reset the password. In vMA 5, this procedure has changed a bit.

In this post I will present the complete procedure.

Boot the vMA 5.

In the Grub bootloader window, select the first option “SUSE linux Enterprise Server 11 SP1 for VMware” and press ‘e’ to edit this line.

Go to the second line, that starts with “kernel /vmlinuz..” and again press ‘e’ to edit. Move to the end of the line and add the following: init=/bin/bash and press [Enter].
At this point, the difference with previous versions. I was used to add “single” at the end of this line. Doing this, the vMA 5 will ask for a root password. Adding “init=bin/bash”, will start a bash shell and allow you to start the passwd command.

After pressing [Enter], you will return to the previous window. Now press ‘b’ to boot the vMA. The vMA will boot and ends up with a command prompt.

To reset the vi-admin password, enter the following command:

# passwd vi-admin

Provide the new password and reboot the vMA 5.

I also noticed that this vMA has a stronger password complexity setting. In my homelab, my default password was not accepted. This post (credits go to Tomi Hakala at vReality) gives directions how to adjust the complexity settings. Unfortunately, it did not completely worked in my case. Here is my version:

Login as vi-admin and enter these commands:

> sudo -s

> cd /etc/pam.d

> mv common-password common-password.bak

> ln –s ./common-password-pc common-password

> pam-config -d –-cracklib

> exit

BTW, I would not recommend the previous change in a real world Production environment.

Thank you very much for reading.

4 Responses to vi-admin password reset on a vMA 5

  1. alan says:

    THANK YOU!!! This saved me a lot.

  2. crumps says:

    This does not work on vMA 5.5 because passwd “cannot determine your user name”. I forgot my password because none of my strong passwords were strong enough for vMA.

    • paulgrevink says:

      I have tested the procedure on a vMA Build 1387931. It works exactly the same way. However, you will need to pick a strong password.

      Best regards,


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