Purpose: Some time back I wrote an article on how to setup mediawiki on your Debian Linux system.  Now suppose you are the administrator of the mediawiki and one of your user sends you a request to reset his/her password.  So in this tutorial we will learn how to change a user’s password using MySQL server from the command line.

Before I go ahead I would like to mention that a user himself can reset the password using “E-mail Password” option on the mediawiki login page. But let’s suppose that your mediawiki’s e-mail feature is NOT working (this is very likely) and hence the user cannot use the “E-mail Password” facility and therefore you as an administrator has to perform this task.

So let’s begin…

Step 1:  Install mysql-client

Mostly likely you will have this package installed on your system. In case if you don’t have one then install it first.

apt-get install mysql-client-5.0

Step 2: Login into your mysql server

# mysql -u root -p

Your database password will be the same one which you had entered when you had installed MySQL from previous part. After entering the password you will be taken to a mysql login like this:

debian:~# mysql -u root -p
Enter password:
Welcome to the MySQL monitor.  Commands end with ; or \g.
Your MySQL connection id is 460
Server version: 5.0.51a-24 (Debian)

Type ‘help;’ or ‘\h’ for help. Type ‘\c’ to clear the buffer.


Step 3: Change the password

Give the following commands on the “mysql” prompt:

mysql> show databases:

| Database           |
| information_schema |
| mantis             |
| mysql              |
| wikidb |
| webissues          |
5 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Here the name of my mediawiki database is wikidb. This is the same name which you had entered while configuring mediawiki.

mysql> use wikidb;

mysql > show tables;

Look for a table with name user. We are interested in this one.

Now you will need to know for which user  you are going to change the password. I am assuming that I am going to change for user with user_id=2.

You can obtain the details of the user with the following command:

mysql> describe user;

mysql> select * from user;

Once you know user_id or user_name of the user for which you are going to change the password, give the following command:

mysql>UPDATE user SET user_password=md5(concat(user_id,'-',md5('mypassword'))) where user_id='2';


mypassword = New password that you like to set.

user = Name of the table

user_password = Name of the field of the table “user”

user_id = User’s id number which you can obtain from “select * from user” command as shown above.

Upon successful completion of the command you should be able to see something this:

Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)
Rows matched: 1  Changed: 1  Warnings: 0


Important Notes:

  • The word user_id (in blue above) should be as it is. Don’t substitute the user’s id number in there.
  • Also you may notice that we use a md5 function in the command. This is because mediawiki does not stores the password in cleartext, rather it runs a md5sum on the user-id and password and stores that number as the password.
  • You can also change the password using the GUI-based phpmyadmin. However I was not able to figure that one out. In case if I do I will update my post.

That it. Now you can inform your user that the password has been reset to so and so and look smart!

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