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Edited shadow and passwd to clear root password but new password doesn't work

It is possible that "/etc" is mounted on a ramdisk (or as tmpfs), which allows you to change the password at runtime but the changes are not propagated to the actual passwd and shadow files. The "/etc" is remounted on bootup from a flash device causing the old settings to be used.

After logging in to the system execute mount and check where "/" or "/etc" is mounted, then check the type. A value of tmpfs will prove the statements above. Also check if "/etc" is a link to a folder in "/var". "/var" is usually on tmpfs.

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