Friday, April 29, 2011

setting up the finger print reader on a ThinkPad with Ubuntu

This works fine on my ThinkPad X61s (SGS Thomson Microelectronics reader) with Ubuntu 11.04 (and should be the same on the previous few versions).

I like the finger print reader even though it's not particularly secure.  My take on this is that it saves me time and prevents people from seeing my password over my shoulder.  You'd still need need physical access to my laptop to break in, at which point all bets (including the password, finger print reader or not) are off anyway.

To enable the finger print reader, first, install the thinkfinger packages:

sudo apt-get install thinkfinger-tools libpam-thinkfinger

Use tf-tool to acquire a fingerprint for your user account:

sudo tftool --acquire

And tell PAM to use thinkfinger as an authentication option:

sudo apt-get install thinkfinger-tools libpam-thinkfinger

From there on out, a finger swipe will be sufficient for things like "sudo" on the shell or logging in.  It won't let you unlock a locked screen (if you need that, you have to set a few things up for xscreensaver).  If you have multiple users and they want to use the fingerprint reader, you need to repeat the "tf-tool" step per user.

Enjoy your finger print reader while you still can, a whole new mess is coming soon.