Mike Croft

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Change The Payara Admin Password Non-Interactively

31 Jul 2017

This post is, hopefully, going to be the first in a series of posts summarising some of the StackOverflow answers I’ve given in the past. I earned my first gold badge on the site this year - the “Unsung Hero” badge. What this effectively means is that I answer a lot of questions correctly and helpfully, but no-one cares.

The question that this post covers is one about trying to access the admin console of a Payara Server or GlassFish instance DAS which is running in a container.


For security reasons, it is not possible to remotely access the Payara Server admin console without “secure admin” being enabled. Essentially meaning that the admin console should only be accessible over HTTPS and should only be accessible to authenticated users. Somewhat irritatingly, the default admin user (admin) does not have a password set by default and one must be set before “secure admin” can be enabled. Setting this password manually is pretty easy - use the asadmin change-admin-password subcommand and follow the prompts - but when you’re in an environment like Docker, this isn’t going to be possible. Why did Sun and Oracle design things this way? Why not have a default password?

The answer is simple. Some years ago, now, I worked as an independent consultant for c2b2 and came across users of both JBoss and WebLogic who had Internet-facing application servers. For many people, that alone is a security risk, but when you consider that these versions of those servers had well known default admin user/password combinations and could be easily found via Google…you get the idea. [Raspberry Pi noted (and took action against) the problems with default, well-known user/password combinations] as recently as the end of 2016. Defaults can be convenient, but they just aren’t worth the risk!

Back to the question. We know how to change the password in an interactive way, but there doesn’t seem to be any option to the change-admin-password command to allow you tell it both the current and the new password all in one line. This is the problem that the user in the question has hit - how can the password be changed non-interactively in a Dockerfile?

Option One: Use the REST API

A relatively little-known feature of both Payara Server and GlassFish, the REST management interface is a really clever bit of engineering. When any new asadmin subcommand gets written and added, Payara Server parses it and generates a REST endpoint for it with no extra development effort! Neat!

There’s a nice example of this in a set of scripts I created to quickly set up a legacy-style Payara Server cluster (using Shoal, rather than Hazelcast). The key part of the script is highlighted and reproduced below:

enableSecureAdmin() {
    # Set admin password
    docker exec das curl  -X POST \
        -H 'X-Requested-By: payara' \
        -H "Accept: application/json" \
        -d id=admin \
        -d AS_ADMIN_PASSWORD= \

    docker exec das $RASADMIN enable-secure-admin
    docker exec das $ASADMIN restart-domain domain1

The first thing to get out of the way here is the Docker-specific parts. To run any bash command in a Docker container, you can simply prefix the command with docker exec ${CONTAINER_NAME} and the command will be passed to the container and run from there.

So, with that in mind, the main thing to be concerned about here is the curl command. I’m sending an HTTP POST request and adding three bits of data in the POST form:

I may write a follow-up post to go into more detail about the REST management interface at a later date but, for now, it should be enough to say simply that the id should be the id of the user whose password we want to change (here I’m changing the default admin user’s password), AS_ADMIN_PASSWORD should equal the current password, and AS_ADMIN_NEWPASSWORD should equal what we want to change the password to.

In the example above, there is no value for AS_ADMIN_PASSWORD since the admin user, as we’ve said, does not have a password by default. After successfully running the command, you should get a JSON response similar to the following:

  "message": "",
  "command": "change-admin-password AdminCommand",
  "exit_code": "SUCCESS",
  "extraProperties": {
    "methods": [
        "name": "GET"
        "messageParameters": {
          "id": {
            "acceptableValues": "",
            "defaultValue": "",
            "optional": "false",
            "type": "string"
          "newpassword": {
            "acceptableValues": "",
            "defaultValue": "",
            "optional": "false",
            "type": "string"
          "password": {
            "acceptableValues": "",
            "defaultValue": "",
            "optional": "false",
            "type": "string"
        "name": "POST"
    "commandLog": [
      "change-admin-password --AS_ADMIN_PASSWORD  --AS_ADMIN_NEWPASSWORD admin
      --DEFAULT admin --password  --newpassword admin --username admin"

Following the curl to change the password, I complete the process by enabling secure admin and restarting the domain to apply the changes.

Option Two: Use a Passwordfile

More eagle-eyed readers will have already spotted the downside to using the REST API to change the admin password for a completely fresh domain; since the domain does not yet have secure admin enabled, the REST endpoint is HTTP only, so passwords are being sent in clear text!

This is where my original answer to the StackOverflow question comes in. I’ll reproduce the answer below. Be aware that the Dockerfile I mention in the answer is the official Payara Server Dockerfile from the 171 release - from release 172, we’ve updated the Dockerfile to make use of a couple of other features.

To summarise, this method creates 2 files: a tmpfile which contains the default (empty) password and the desired new password, and a pwdfile which contains just the newly changed file.

If the contents of the tmpfile are:


Then the contents of pwdfile should be:


to change the password using asadmin, the first file must be used with the change-admin-password command, and the second with all future commands.

In docker terms, this looks like this (taken directly from the dockerfile linked above):

ENV PAYARA_PATH /opt/payara41

# set credentials to admin/admin 

>> /opt/tmpfile

>> /opt/pwdfile

 $PAYARA_PATH/bin/asadmin start-domain && \
 $PAYARA_PATH/bin/asadmin --user $ADMIN_USER --passwordfile=/opt/tmpfile change-admin-password && \
 $PAYARA_PATH/bin/asadmin --user $ADMIN_USER --passwordfile=/opt/pwdfile enable-secure-admin && \
 $PAYARA_PATH/bin/asadmin restart-domain

# cleanup
RUN rm /opt/tmpfile


This answer is making use of options for the asadmin command itself. If you’re already a GlassFish or Payara Server user, you are probably used to adding options to various asadmin subcommands, but you may not be as used to specifying options to asadmin itself. If that’s the case, do take note of the fact that these options must come before the subcommand you want to use, and any options for the subcommand will come after the subcommand.

That’s it! Payara Server is really quite flexible. There’s usually at least one way to achieve your goal, often several ways. For any configuration which does not have a dedicated asadmin subcommand, the set subcommand can be used and, if you really don’t know what’s available, you can use the Payara Server asadmin recorder feature in the admin console which will write all the right commands to a file for you to replay at a later date.  

This StackOverflow answer by Mike Croft is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0. This derivative work is licensed under CC BY 4.0 by Mike Croft