Linux Fingerprint Developments

Thu 15 November 2007

It's been a busy week for Fingerprint Authentication in Linux. Timo announced that pam_thinkfinger is being retired, and a new project will supposedly arise from it. So it's effectively being abandoned. Normally I'd say it's a bad thing, but it's a solid driver at the moment, and most of the problems arise from the PAM module. Requiring uinput has been a source of pain as it's partly considered insecure. The good news is that Thinkfinger is a whirlwind of activity at the moment preparing for a final release, reviewing and integrating patches that have been floating around. Hopefully upstream won't die as much as branch.

Additionally, theres a new Ubuntero pushing on including BioAPI in Ubuntu. He seems a bit of a novice though, so don't hold your breath. I don't quite see the purpose in pushing BioAPI exactly, but if it works, great for everyone.

Finally, fprint announced an initial release this week. They aim to create a generic library with which they can support all kinds of fingerprint hardware. Unsurprisingly, security is "of interest, [but] not a primary objective". That's right. A security tool who's primary objective is not security. Mostly this is an artifact of the contradiction of using fingerprints as security devices -- they're not as secure as a good password, but they are slightly better than auto login as root.

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