How to Fix passwd Authentication token manipulation error in Linux?


Linux is a popular and widely used operating system in the world today. It is known for its efficiency, security, and stability, among other things.

However, like any other operating system, it can sometimes encounter errors that might be difficult to fix or even understand. One such error is the passwd authentication token manipulation error.

This error typically occurs when a user tries to change their password but fails to do so due to issues with their account or system settings. It can also occur when users try to execute certain commands that require root access but don't have proper permissions or authentication settings in place.

The error message can be frustrating if you're not familiar with what's going on behind the scenes. In this article, we will explore what causes this error and how to fix it.

Importance of fixing the error

The importance of fixing this error cannot be overstated since passwords are critical components of any secure system's architecture. If you're unable to change your password due to an authentication token manipulation error, you risk exposing your sensitive information or system resources controlled by your account if accessed without permission. In addition, leaving a system with unresolved errors like this could lead to more significant problems down the line because cybercriminals could eventually exploit them over time if left unchecked.

It's essential always to keep your Linux systems up-to-date with security patches and fix common errors as they arise promptly. In doing so, you will reduce cybersecurity risks and maintain good performance on your computer systems.

Understanding the passwd Authentication Token Manipulation Error

Definition of the error

The passwd authentication token manipulation error is an issue that can occur in Linux systems when a user tries to change their password. It typically occurs when a user attempts to change their password using the "passwd" command and receives an error message that says "passwd: Authentication token manipulation error."

This error essentially means that there was some issue with manipulating the authentication token, which is used to verify a user's identity and grant them access to certain resources on the system. When this error occurs, users are unable to change or update their passwords, which can be problematic for security purposes.

Causes of the error

There are several potential causes of the passwd authentication token manipulation error in Linux systems. One common cause is file system corruption, which can occur due to a variety of factors such as improper shutdowns or hardware failures. If certain critical files become corrupted, it can cause issues with changing passwords and other system functions.

Another possible cause is incorrect file permissions or ownership settings on certain files related to password management. If these settings are not configured correctly, it can cause issues when trying to manipulate authentication tokens for password changes.

It's possible that there could be some issue with the PAM (Pluggable Authentication Modules) configuration on your Linux system. PAM is responsible for managing various aspects of user authentication and authorization, so if there's an issue in this area it could lead to problems changing passwords and other related issues.

Symptoms of the error

When you encounter the passwd authentication token manipulation error in Linux, you'll typically see an error message appear after running the "passwd" command. This message will usually say something like "passwd: Authentication token manipulation error" or simply "Error changing password."

In addition to this message, you may also see other symptoms of the error such as being unable to log in to your system with your password, or having trouble accessing certain files or resources that require authentication. If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's important to address the issue promptly to avoid any potential security risks or data loss.

Fixing the passwd Authentication Token Manipulation Error in Linux

Step-by-step guide to fixing the error

When encountering a "passwd authentication token manipulation error" in Linux, there are steps that can be taken to resolve the issue. The following is a step-by-step guide to fixing the error −

  • Boot into single-user mode − To fix this error, you first need to boot your system into single-user mode.

    This can typically be done by interrupting the boot process and adding "single" or "init 1" at the end of the kernel line in grub menu.

  • Remount root file system − Once you have successfully booted into single-user mode, you need to remount the root file system with write access. This can be done with the command "mount -o remount,rw /".

  • Change password using passwd command − After remounting your root filesystem, you need to change your password using passwd command.

    Simply type "passwd" and then enter a new password.

  • Reboot system and test new password − Once you have changed your password successfully, reboot your system with "reboot" command. Test that your new password works by attempting to log in as usual.

Alternative methods to fix the error

If for some reason these steps do not work or if they are not an option, there are alternative methods that may help fix this issue −

  • Use a live CD or USB − Using a live CD or USB is another way of accessing a Linux installation without requiring authentication.

  • Use recovery mode − Some systems may come with a recovery mode option that allows users to reset their passwords. - Edit shadow file: Another method involves editing /etc/shadow file directly but it requires good knowledge about how to edit shadow file and is not recommended for newbies.

Preventing Future Occurrences of Passwd Authentication Token Manipulation Error in Linux

Best practices for securing your Linux system

Preventing future occurrences of the passwd authentication token manipulation error requires implementing best practices for securing your Linux system. The following are some best practices that can be implemented −

  • Regularly update your system − Regular updates help keep your system up to date with the latest security patches and fixes.

  • Use strong passwords − It is important to use strong passwords that are difficult to guess. Strong passwords typically include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

  • Limit user access − Limiting user access helps prevent unauthorized users from making changes to critical files or systems.


Encountering a "passwd authentication token manipulation error" in Linux can be frustrating, but there are steps that can be taken to fix the issue. By following the step-by-step guide provided or using alternative methods, you can successfully regain access to your system. Additionally, implementing best practices for securing your Linux system will help prevent future occurrences of this error or other security issues.

Remember to regularly update your system, use strong passwords and limit user access as much as possible. By doing so, you can keep your system secure and avoid any potential issues that may arise in the future.

Updated on: 12-Jun-2023

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