MariaDB Installed Without Password Prompts for Root on Ubuntu 17.10 / 18.04

Recently I was testing MariaDB database server on Ubuntu 17.10 / 18.04 and discovered that MariaDB database server now installs on Ubuntu without prompting the root user for password to access the server.

Is this new?

It’s always been the case where MySQL and MariaDB, a fork of MySQL prompt for passwords everytime before access is granted to the server. Apparently, not anymore for MariaDB. Now simply installing the database gives the root access without password.

Even after running the command sudo mysql_secure_installation. the root account password is never required. However, other applications and services that depend on MariaDB will fail if the root password is needed for authentication.

phpMyAdmin and MySQL Workbench database may fail if MariaDB is setup this way.

This brief tutorial is going to show students and new users how to set a root password for MariaDB and allow password authentication.

After digging a bit, I discovered that MariaDB uses unix_socket plugin to authenticate. and not passwords. Even if you set a password, it is ignored. To re-enable password authentication, follow the steps below:

Logon to MariaDB server by running the commands below

sudo mysql -u root

Notice no password?

That should get you into the database server. After that, run the commands below to disable plugin authentication for the root user

use mysql;
update user set plugin='' where User='root';
flush privileges;

Restart and run the commands below to set a new password.

sudo systemctl restart mariadb.service

After that, run the commands below to secure MariaDB server and create a new root password.

sudo mysql_secure_installation

When prompted, answer the questions below by following the guide.

  • Enter current password for root (enter for none): Just press Enter
  • Set root password? [Y/n]: Y
  • New password: Enter password
  • Re-enter new password: Repeat password
  • Remove anonymous users? [Y/n]: Y
  • Disallow root login remotely? [Y/n]: Y
  • Remove test database and access to it? [Y/n]:  Y
  • Reload privilege tables now? [Y/n]:  Y

You should now be able to logon with password authentication. and other applications should now work with the root password authentication.

The next time type the commands below to logon

sudo mysql -u root -p

Then type the password to sign on

Welcome to the MariaDB monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MariaDB connection id is 11
Server version: 10.1.25-MariaDB-1 Ubuntu 17.10

Copyright (c) 2000, 2017, Oracle, MariaDB Corporation Ab and others.

Type 'help;' or '\h' for help. Type '\c' to clear the current input statement.

MariaDB [(none)]>


You may also like the post below:


  1. Thanks for the hint – saved me some time!

    In addition I would add that once returning to old password style auth, you need to also alter and fix /etc/mysq/debian.cnf in order for startup scripts to be able to work and shutdown the service as the least.
    By default now they put user root there with no password, I reverted back to the debian-sys-maint user with the following steps:
    1. From another server that has the old-style auth: mysqldump –complete-insert –extended-insert=0 -u root -p mysql | grep ‘debian-sys-maint’ copy the output and execute it as a query against the ‘mysql’ database on the new setup. (mysql -p mysql ,then paste the result from the dump)
    2. flush privileges;
    3. SET PASSWORD FOR ‘debian-sys-maint’@’localhost’ = PASSWORD(‘verystrongpass’);
    4. flush privileges; \q
    5. edit /etc/mysql/debian.cnf and set user to debian-sys-maint and password to the value you set above
    6. service mysql stop and ps ax | grep mysql to check it realy succeeded to stopp it – so it worked!

    Hope that helps someone.

    1. you did it something wrong or your version isn’t the same. I’ve tried this and it works!.

  2. thanks, been having this problem for a long time. Other sites didnt help me. Thanks again!

  3. update user set plugin=” where User=’root’ throws me some errors.

    Column ‘plugin’ is not updatable

    1. Had the same problem. I guess you’re using MariaDB 10.4? The user table is now only a view over a new table called global_priv, which is why you can’t change it. They’ve changed the root authentication method for 10.4 and explained it here:
      If the link doesn’t get through the comment system, just search “authentication in mariadb 10.4” in your favourite search engine.

      Hope it helps.

  4. Works great for Debian 10 as well. I dislike running anything as root (sudo), so it’s great to be able to set the “root” account of the database to have a password. That way, I can administrate the database without having excessive powers, like being able to destroy the whole machine. I cannot fathom why they changed this.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.