Getting the Fingerprint Reader to Work

Here’s more on my experiences with Ubuntu on my Dell Latitude D830 laptop.

I tried to get the fingerprint reader to work so that I’d be able to authenticate with my fingerprint. The Dell website mentioned that it is a UPEK fingerprint reader, so I googled for it. It turns out that Hardy has packages for it!

I installed the following packages:

  • libpam-thinkfinger
  • thinkfinger-tools
  • libthinkfinger-0

After I rebooted I could run the tf-tool. I guess I could have done:

sudo tf-tool --acquire /etc/pam_thinkfinger/myusername.bir

Instead I did

tf-tool --acquire
sudo cp .thinkfinger.bir /etc/pam_thinkfinger/myusername.bir

Then I edited /etc/pam.d/common-auth and added pam_thinkfinger.so as authentication module and modified the one existing line:

auth     sufficient     pam_thinkfinger.so
auth     required       pam_unix.so try_first_pass nullok_secure

Voilá! It worked! I can now just swipe my finger instead of typing, both when I login as well as when I do a sudo. First I thought that it doesn’t work with gksudo, but then I discovered that it is working, just the prompt is (sometimes) wrong and just says “Password”. It is accepting the finger – but obviously I did it wrong when I tried first.

And after I had done all that I discovered that there is actually a page in the Ubuntu wiki that explains it. Some things are a little outdated though…

Edit (2008-08-06): there are some more steps to get the password dialog to work with the fingerprint reader – see “More on Fingerprint Reader”.

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