HipChat Server: Cannot Access admin Backend through Terminal / SSH

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Platform Notice: Server and Data Center Only - This article only applies to Atlassian products on the server and data center platforms.


The HipChat Server administrator is unable to log in to the backend console through SSH / terminal due to permission issues:

The following appears in the console:

[user@host ~]$ ssh admin@hipchatserver
admin@hipchatserver's password:
Permission denied, please try again.



  • HipChat Server 2.x


The default password hipchat was changed previously and the admin was unable to retrieve the updated password to log in.


Before you proceed with the steps below, please make sure you perform a back up of your instance by going through the Back up and restore Hipchat Server first.

Once that is completed, perform the steps below sequentially to complete the resolution:

Step 1: Ubuntu Live CD setup

  1. Download the Ubuntu Trusty (14.04) live cd here: http://releases.ubuntu.com/14.04.5/ubuntu-14.04.5-desktop-amd64.iso
  2. Once completed, shut down the HipChat Server OVA so we can mount the Ubuntu ISO as the boot target. In VMware Fusion v7.1.3, it looks something like this. The steps may differ slightly depending on your specific virtualization platform:
    • Click the Virtual Machine drop-down and choose Settings
    • Click Startup and choose Add Device...
    • Click CD/DVD Drive, then choose the Ubuntu ISO
    • Double-check the Startup setting to verify the VM will boot from the CD/DVD drive we just mounted
    • Start up the VM
  3. At this point, you should see the Ubuntu start-up screen
    Note: If you don't, please go back and make sure that the CD/DVD drive is selected to boot on startup.
  4. Click Try Ubuntu  Don't click 'Install Ubuntu'. You'll be taken to Ubuntu's Unity interface. The top icon in the left-side tray will let you search for applications on the system, akin to Mac OSX's Spotlight. Use that button to open Terminal

Step 2: Mounting Ubuntu ISO

Once in the Ubuntu terminal, we can run the following to mount the correct drive:

sudo mkdir /mnt/hcroot
sudo mount /dev/sda6 /mnt/hcroot

Note: If there's any doubt that /dev/sda6 is the correct partition to mount/access, you can run lsblk to see a printout of the various devices available for mounting

Step 3: Using bash to change the password

Now that we have the HipChat Server root partition mounted, we need to use chroot to access it in a BASH shell:

sudo chroot /mnt/hcroot /bin/bash

Note: You should be able to run ls | grep hipchat and see a few items listed - if this returns no results, we have performed something wrong. Please go through the steps again to ensure that we did not miss out on anything

If you do see hipchat content in the directory, you're in the right place.

Step 4: Change the password

From here, simply run the following to change the admin password:

passwd admin

Note: You'll be prompted to enter a new password, then confirm it. You'll see a message indicating that the password updated successfully, assuming all goes well. Run exit to back out of the hcroot shell.

Step 5: Shutting the instance down and removing the boot CD

  1. At this point, we just need to:
    1. shut it down
    2. unmount the CD drive from the VM
    3. start up the VM
  2. sudo halt will shut down the VM and you should see an Ubuntu screen indicating you should remove the installation disk.
  3. Shut down or power off the virtual machine using VMware/VirtualBox.
  4. Since we are done with the Ubuntu disk, we can just remove the CD/DVD device we added to the VM environment. Here is how that looks in VMware Fusion:
    • Click the Virtual Machine drop-down and choose Settings
    • Under the Removable Devices category, click CD/DVD (SATA)
    • Expand the Advanced options and click Remove CD/DVD Drive
    • Click Remove to confirm

On our box, the startup disk reverted back to the correct volume, but your mileage may vary.

Note: Setting the startup device is covered in Step 1 of this document, if a change is necessary.

Step 6: Fire it back up

Start the VM back up and it should boot into HipChat Server as usual. You should now be able to login as admin with the new password we just set.

Last modified on Nov 2, 2018

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