Enable Root account and Password Login on AWS EC2 and Google VM Instances

Amazon EC2 instances and Google VM instances come with root account disabled by default. They also use a PEM key file to authenticate the user so the use of passwords are also disabled. While these are excellent practices in terms of security. Some people prefer to have these disabled for many reasons. Let’s enable root account on AWS EC2 and Google VM instances

This is an optional step. You’ll be able to login to Virtualmin without making changes explained in this tutorial. But you need to set a password for root account first. Following command will guide you through it.


However, you’ll still have to use key file to login to EC2/VM instance with SSH. You can follow this tutorial if you prefer password logins. And want to login to server as the root user.

Please note that these instructions are for Ubuntu 20.04 instances. But it should work on other Ubuntu versions as well.

Login to your EC2 instance with standard user account. This could be ubuntu or ec2-user depending on the AMI you deployed on your instance. Once inside, switch to root account by executing this command.

sudo -i

Now open the SSH configuration file with nano text editor.

nano /etc/ssh/sshd_config

Enable Root Account on AWS EC2/Google VM Instance

Search for following line within the file (Ctrl+W),


Now change PermitRootLogin to yes. File should look like this after the change.

Root account will be enabled on your instance after SSH service restart. But you still can’t login to root account because you don’t have password logins enabled on your server. You can enable it by following below instructions.

Enable Password login on AWS EC2/Google VM Instance

Now search for following line within the configuration file,

PasswordAuthentication no

Change no to yes. File should look like this after the change.

Now close the file and reload SSH service.

service sshd reload

Password login should be enabled now. You can now set a password for root account. Use following command on Putty to do it.


Root account is now enabled on your EC2/VM instance and you can login to it using the password you set above. And finally, your instance is ready for Virtualmin. Go ahead and Install Virtualmin Control Panel on this AWS EC2/Google VM Instance and start hosting websites.


Hey!! I'm Tharindu. I'm from Sri Lanka. I'm a part time freelancer and this is my blog where I write about everything I think might be useful to readers. If you read a tutorial here and want to hire me, contact me here.

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