I have this acer laptop with Mandriva 2008 on it that I got for the price of a few beers a few years back. I'd like to use it for simple things (running IDEs, reading PDFs and a few more things), but I can't get into it. it prompts me to enter a user name and a password, neither of which I know.

is there any way i can get into it anyways? it has a disk drive, USB sockets, all that good stuff if your solution requires that sort of thing. there's really nothing wrong with it, i just can't get in. it's been a long time since i've used it.

You can boot on recovery mode, you will get a root shell, from which you can use passwd command to assign a new password to the root account. You will not need the old one, from there you can change the other accounts passwords and regain access.

I did that. and here i was downloading ubuntu 8... i played around a little and now i'm logged in as root. i think i've done it now, thanks a lot