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Setting root password in MySQL

#/usr/bin/mysqladmin -u root -p password 'new-password' <CR>
#Enter password:  <newpassword> <CR>
/usr/bin/mysqladmin: connect to server at 'localhost' failed
error: 'Access denied for user: 'root@localhost' (Using password: YES)'

( The above steps are as explained in post install of MySQL, so why does
it fail??)

even the next step fails
#/usr/bin/mysqladmin -u root -h <localhostname> -p password
'new-password' <CR>

Login as user produces the same results.
MySQL is running fine
<ps -as yields the pids for mysqld)
#mysql <CR>
executes ok and able to create tables etc.. SQL statements running fine
Sunil Dhaka