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My understanding is that they (beagleboard) disabled root for security reasons. I saw a discussion somewhere, saying that people were putting their beaglebone directly on the Internet, and then complaining that hackers were logging in as root. So they disabled it.
You can get in as root, but only after you use the normal login.
In putty, use the Username debian
Then pw is temppwd
After logging in that way, if you really need root, at the $ prompt you can su to become root.
That was the problem I spent my morning on. Thanks Buddy