Recovering A Seriously Screwed Up Fedora System

The graphical interface on a Fedora 28 laptop was unavailable — buggered up video device/driver. Change to what used to be called run level 3, and we could not log in! We know the root password, but it would not take it. Single user is password protected too — and we were unable to log in there.

Normal recovery process:

Get to the grub menu, highlight the kernel you want to boot, and hit ‘e’ to edit it. Scroll down. On line that starts with linux16, change “rhgb quiet” to say “rd.break enforcing=0”
ctrl-x to boot

Once you get a shell:
mount -o remount,rw /sysroot
chroot /sysroot

Voila, you’ve got access to your files. Use vi to edit whatever has the box seriously screwed up (passwd if your problem is that you don’t know the root password) and you’re set. We reset the root password just in case. Aaaand … we still couldn’t log in on init 1 or init 3! And at this point I was feeling stubborn about getting logged into the box.

Now you can tweak up the system so it is not using sulogin when booting into single user mode but that isn’t a good way to install network-sourced packages. For some reason, we had to disable selinux before we could log into anything other than the graphical target. I’m sure there is a policy we could have tweaked, but it was far easier to disable the thing, boot into the multi-user target, sort the video driver, and then boot into the graphical target.

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