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How To Fix “Authentication Token Manipulation Error” in Ubuntu Password Recovery

Ubuntu 17

In the world of Ubuntu, encountering errors is a common occurrence. One such error is the “Authentication Token Manipulation Error” which often occurs during password recovery. This error can be quite frustrating, but with the right steps, it can be resolved. In this article, we will walk you through several methods to fix this error.

Understanding the Error

Before diving into the solutions, it’s important to understand what the error means. The “Authentication Token Manipulation Error” typically occurs when you try to change your password but the system is unable to update the password token in the /etc/shadow file. This can happen due to a variety of reasons such as incorrect password input, filesystem mounted as read-only, incorrect date settings, or issues with the Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM).

Solution 1: Ensure Read/Write Access

The first thing you should check is whether your filesystem is mounted as read-only. This can prevent the system from updating the password token. You can remount the filesystem as read/write using the following command:

mount -rw -o remount /

In this command, -rw stands for read/write, -o stands for options, and remount is the action to be performed. The / signifies the root directory of the filesystem.

Solution 2: Check Password Input

Another common mistake is entering the new password instead of the current one when prompted. Ensure you’re entering the correct current password to avoid this error.

Solution 3: Verify PAM Settings

The error can also be related to the authorization settings in the PAM module. You can check the settings in the /etc/pam.d/ directory. Specifically, look for the minimum_uid setting in the common-auth file. If the minimum_uid is set to a value higher than 0, it can cause the error. You can edit this file using a text editor like nano or vim.

Solution 4: Set Correct Date

Incorrect date settings can cause an illegal timestamp in the /etc/shadow file, leading to the error. You can set the correct date using the date command:

date MMDDhhmmYYYY

In this command, MM is the month, DD is the day, hh is the hour, mm is the minute, and YYYY is the year. After setting the date, edit the expiration/last password change dates in the /etc/shadow file.

Solution 5: Uninstall Unnecessary Software

If you have LikeWise or PowerBroker installed and not in use, uninstalling them can resolve the issue. You can use the aptitude package manager to uninstall these software:

sudo aptitude purge pbis-open pbis-open-legacy pbis-open-gui pbis-open-upgrade

In this command, purge is used to remove the packages and their configuration files.

Solution 6: Use sudo

If the user’s current password is not set yet, using sudo passwd $USER instead of passwd $USER can force the password change. The $USER variable represents the current user.


The “Authentication Token Manipulation Error” in Ubuntu can be quite troublesome, but with the right knowledge and steps, it can be resolved. Remember, it’s always important to understand the cause of the error before attempting to fix it. We hope this guide has been helpful in resolving this error. If you’re still facing issues, don’t hesitate to seek help from the Ubuntu community.

What should I do if I forget my current password?

If you forget your current password, you will need to reset it using the Ubuntu password recovery options. You can follow the steps mentioned in this guide to fix the "Authentication Token Manipulation Error" during password recovery.

Can I change the minimum_uid setting in the PAM module?

Yes, you can change the minimum_uid setting in the PAM module. You can edit the common-auth file in the /etc/pam.d/ directory and modify the value of minimum_uid. However, it is recommended to be cautious while making changes to PAM settings as it can affect system security.

How can I uninstall software using aptitude?

To uninstall software using aptitude, you can use the following command: sudo aptitude purge [package_name]. Replace [package_name] with the name of the software you want to uninstall. This command will remove the package and its configuration files from your system.

What should I do if I encounter other errors during password recovery?

If you encounter other errors during password recovery, it is recommended to search for specific solutions to those errors. The Ubuntu community forums and websites like Ask Ubuntu can be valuable resources for finding solutions to various Ubuntu-related errors.

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