Sybase ASE
11.0 11.5 11.9 12.0 12.5 15.0.1 15.0.2+
Last updated: 02 June 2013
sp_blank_password: setting an ASE login password to blank
Update: The stored procedure below applies only to ASE pre-15.0.2. For how to apply the same trick in 15.0.2 or later, see the quiz question for June 2013.

A blank password (a.k.a. a 'null' password) only exists in ASE for the sa login when a new server is created. Officially, you cannot set a password for an ASE login to blanks yourself (and indeed, it is a better idea to use a strong and non-blank password instead). Unfortunately, you sometimes really need this possibility anyway.
Consider the following situation: you've left the sa password blank for a long time, but now you finally changed it to some normal value (as is indeed recommended). Next day, some important applications don't work anymore because they are using a hard-coded, blank sa password. Now you need to set the sa password back to blanks, but there is no way to do this...
This would indeed be a good reason for panic, had there not been a stored procedure called sp_blank_password which sets the sa password back to blanks. In fact, it can set the password of *any* login to blanks.

A more detailed discussion of this issue can be found in the article "How to set ASE login passwords (back) to blank", which was published in the Q2 1999 issue of the ISUG Technical Journal .
The full article is also available here . A PDF version of the original publication can also be downloaded from here .

Note: in June 2000, additional information was added to this article about new ASE 12.0 features which allow a blank password to be set in an alternative way.

Download/installation instructions
  • Decompress the file (using PKZIP or WinZip) & run the script as follows:
     isql -Usa -P<sa-password> -S<servername>
	      -i sp_blank_password.sql
  • You're basically ready now. Try it out as follows by creating a new login and then setting its password to blank:
     exec sp_addlogin mytestlogin, verysecret
     exec sp_blank_password mytestlogin
  • You should now be able to log into the server using this login and a blank password as follows:
     isql -Umytestlogin -P -S<servername>
  • The procedure comes with encrypted blank passwords for the major Sybase platforms. It may be possible you're running on a different platform, however, for which no value is provided here. If this happens, just follow the instructions which are printed on the screen during installation to determine the value for your system.
    Currently, values are included for Windows NT, Solaris, Digital Unix, AIX, HP-UX, UnixWare, Linux and OpenVMS.

  • Note: in September 1999, a bug was fixed in the script (thanks to Scott Wright): the platform check was looking for the string "/Sun" in the @@version variable, which, in case the server code happened to be compiled on a Sunday, caused the code to believe it was running on Sun-Solaris while it really was on a different platform.

For further background information and instructions for use, see the header of the downloaded file.

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