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Open Source Adeona Tracks Lost & Stolen Laptops 192

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the marco-polo-marco-polo dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Adeona is the first Open Source system for tracking the location of your lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary, central service. This means that you can install Adeona on your laptop and go — there's no need to rely on a single third party. What's more, Adeona addresses a critical privacy goal different from existing commercial offerings. It is privacy-preserving. This means that no one besides the owner (or an agent of the owner's choosing) can use Adeona to track a laptop. Unlike other systems, users of Adeona can rest assured that no one can abuse the system in order to track where they use their laptop."
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Open Source Adeona Tracks Lost & Stolen Laptops

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  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by dahitokiri (1113461) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:10AM (#24181581)
    Mobile device + Linux + Adeona == cheap way to keep tabs on your girlfriend/wife/kids at all times?
  • by pxc (938367) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:12AM (#24181613)

    it may be more difficult for Adeona to gain traction with non-technical law enforcement officers.

    "So who do I call to confirm that this laptop is stolen?"
    "Umm, me. You see, there's this free software called Adeona that anyone can set up to track their own laptop."
    "Never heard of it..."

    In previous threads about stolen laptops (like the AskSlashdot thread on how best to recover a stolen laptop) I read some anecdotes where people were in a similar situation with similarly-purposed software that they rolled themselves. Perhaps the software having a common face (same name and features) will be enough to solve this problem.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by acklenx (646834)

      "So who do I call to confirm that this laptop is stolen?"

      The owner is probably the only person that should report it stolen regardless of the software "tracking" it. And how does someone know this laptop is your laptop? Perhaps the serial number (unless it has a large scratch through it). You do file that information with your insurance company, right?

      • by jimicus (737525)

        "So who do I call to confirm that this laptop is stolen?"

        The owner is probably the only person that should report it stolen regardless of the software "tracking" it. And how does someone know this laptop is your laptop? Perhaps the serial number (unless it has a large scratch through it). You do file that information with your insurance company, right?

        I think the OP meant that this is how s/he imagined the conversation going at the police station; viz. unless and until the software is well known and respected, the fact that you have evidence to suggest where the laptop is is neither here nor there because there's a strong chance that the authorities will refuse to follow up on your evidence because they've got no reason to pay it much heed.

        • by Zenaku (821866) on Monday July 14, 2008 @12:19PM (#24182529)

          The important thing is to provide all the relevant details when you file a police report -- model, color, and most importantly serial number. If you don't file a police report, then nothing has been stolen as far as the law is concerned.

          I did not have my serial number written down anywhere, but when my house was burglarized a few months ago and my Macbook Pro was stolen, Apple was able to provide me with it along with a copy of my invoice. I made sure the police report had the serial number in it, even though I did not have any special software installed for tracking it.

          A few weeks later, I found a bunch of new bookmarks in my browser that I didn't recognize and I realized whatever fool had my laptop had not bothered to re-image it, and was still using my Firefox profile, which was still connected to my Foxmarks [foxmarks.com] account.

          So I changed them all to point to a redirect page on my own webserver, and set up a cron job to watch the logs and email me whenever it got a hit. Foxmarks dutifully synced my changes down to my stolen laptop the next time the guy opened Firefox, and suddenly I had his I.P. address. He sent it to me several times a day, and it was always from the same IP.

          Now, the police in my precinct are not technical, but I called them and left a message explaining the information I had, and referencing my case number, and making it very clear that all they needed to do was get a subpoena to get the subscriber information from Comcast. It took about a week for someone to call me back to find out what the hell I was talking about, about 20 minutes on the phone for me to give him a brief "TCP/IP 101," and then about three more weeks for them to get the paperwork through the courts. But then one day the detective called me up, told me he was standing in the suspect's apartment, and asked me where to find the serial number on the laptop.

          I told him how to remove the battery and find the serial number, he matched it against the police report, and I had it back a couple of hours later. The guy that was using it got charged with a felony (receiving and concealing stolen property).

          All of my personal files were still on the laptop, just moved into the trash bin. Along with several pictures of the guy and his buddies mugging for the camera and throwing gang signs. (These, of course, I burned to a CD and gave to the police).

          Anyway, my point is just that even though the cops are usually not remotely technical, they will follow up on this sort of thing if you are polite, take the time to explain the technology, and make sure to follow procedure by filing a detailed report as soon as your laptop is stolen.

          I'll definitely be installing this software on the laptop as soon as I have a free moment -- I got lucky with Foxmarks, but it's better to be prepared than lucky.

          • by z80kid (711852)
            It sounds like you either live in a nice area, or you have an influential profession. :)

            I think the OP was referring to the fact that in many places in the US, the police only really respect lawyers and corporations with lawyers. These people might actually cause trouble for them. For anyone else, they will begrudgingly file a report and no more.

            • by Zenaku (821866) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:05PM (#24184185)

              In my experience (meaning this is of course only anecdotal evidence) it all has to do with their manpower vs. the likelihood of making an arrest.

              In my case for example, the house was burglarized. My alarm system went off, and the police did respond, but as I understand it, they noted that the door was open, and that was it. My friend who was house sitting had to call them back to fill out a proper report with the things she could tell were missing, and when I got back into town I dropped by the precinct with a written, detailed list of everything taken. At this point they did not have anyone assigned to investigate -- they basically take a report so you can send it to your insurance company, and that's all they do. So you're right about that.

              But they aren't wrong to do that, exactly -- they have limited resources, and as a citizen I don't necessarily want them wasting their time on a case with no witnesses, no suspect, and no leads. A 5000 dollar property crime doesn't exactly warrant bringing in the CSI team to look for DNA. If it did, they would need a hell of a lot of CSI teams. I'd rather they spend their time and money catching violent offenders.

              But when I ended up with the IP address that could lead them to the stolen property, suddenly they were more than willing to help. They assigned a detective, who took what I had and ran with it, because suddenly the solveability of the case had gone from a low probability and high difficulty to good probability and low effort. I'm nobody important, I assure you. Just a guy that had an actual lead.

              Maybe I'm giving people too much credit, but I think most police (I've met some assholes too, I assure you) really do want to help -- it's just a matter of how best to spend their limited time and budgets.

              • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

                by FreakinSyco (873416)
                Leads? Sure, I'll just check down with the boys at the crime lab... They've got four more detectives on this case... They've got us workin' in shifts!
    • by conner_bw (120497) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:28AM (#24181865) Homepage Journal

      Don't worry, I'm working on the open source justice mob!

      Let's just say it involves a lot of chinese communists, farming tractors, and a boat to store the mob offshore.

      PayPal donations welcome!

    • The Linux Way (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mcrbids (148650)

      Also, what does it do that the following doesn't do in crontab?

      1 * * * * wget -O /dev/null http://www.myprivatehomepage.com 2>/dev/null

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Joe Snipe (224958)

      Now that's just silly. First off, if they are not technically oriented, you would simply drop them into dummy mode [ntk.net] and then feed them instructions. Second, chances are since you were the one to set up the program, you would be the one to sign in and get the location data. Then you would call the authorities and say "according to my gps-enabled tracking software, the laptop is at location X," and they would send out a detective. If the detective is unwilling to accept your data, then you are parsing it w

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      You can mention MOSt of the laptop tracking apps out there and the response will be "Never heard of it..."

      MOST non-technical law enforcement officers haven't heard of most tools used like this.

      Hell most havent heard of linux or even understand what wifi is.

      It will have as much traction as the open source CCTV systems and closed source CCTV systems do. Most of them blink when you hand them a CD with CCTV footage on it and the viewer app and they ask, "so I can play this on a DVD player?" 99.997% of all co

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by kabocox (199019)

      it may be more difficult for Adeona to gain traction with non-technical law enforcement officers.

      Um, LEOs would actually love to have this preinstalled on laptops, desktops, cellphones, game pads, game consoles, and everything else under the sun. All they need is for you to file a police report that X device is stolen. The tricky thing is how easy would it be to make a LEO account so you could log in some where and give Joe Bob Police Officer tracking rights to that cell phone and ipod that were just stolen

    • My laptops have Antivirus that reports back to my admin server along with IP address (Local & the Firewall's.)

      So when a laptop is stolen, I know where it is. But what good does that do me? If I call up the police myself and say I have this old company laptop worth $500 sitting somewhere in the open WIFI at the local truckstop, they will just say "so what?"

      I can remote wipe the PC to eliminate any private data, if they don't do that prior to selling it on eBay.

  • by QuantumLeaper (607189) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:13AM (#24181633) Journal
    All you have to do is reformat the hard drive and now some one has your laptop for free.
    • by Verteiron (224042) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:17AM (#24181707) Homepage

      Sure. This is betting on the fact that a lot of thieves are too dumb to do that, and either use or pawn the laptop without doing much to it. I'm willing to bet that's the case more often than not.

      • by Verteiron (224042) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:23AM (#24181779) Homepage

        Actually they state as much right in their FAQ:

        What if a thief removes the software, reinstalls the OS or doesn't connect to the Internet?

        A motivated and sufficiently equipped or knowledgeable thief can always prevent Internet device tracking: he or she can erase software on the device, deny Internet access, or even destroy the device. For example, Adeona currently has no mechanisms for attempting to survive a disk wipe.

        We point out that we do not believe this renders Adeona (and other location-tracking systems) useless. The Adeona system was designed to protect against the common thief -- for example, a thief that opportunistically decides to swipe your laptop from a coffee shop or your dorm room, and then wants to use it or perhaps sell it on online. Such thieves will often not be technologically savvy and will not know to remove Adeona from your system. While device tracking will not always work, systems like Adeona can work, and it is against the common-case thief that we feel tracking systems can add significant value.

        • by Albanach (527650)

          It does beg the question why this isn't a default feature of most BIOS chips. It really should be trivial for the bios to try and get a dhcp lease on the installed network cards and make a single network connection.

          Sure, you can reset the BIOS, but that's typically a lot more challenging than reformatting the hard drive.

        • it is against the common-case thief that we feel tracking systems can add significant value.

          Perhaps, but a stolen laptop is useless without being hacked/reformatted (except for using for parts) if you actually do the minimum of security precautions: having a password required to login/come back from screen saver, etc.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by filthpickle (1199927)
            the common thief already knows that you have to wipe a stolen laptop. Or at least the vast majority do.

            When I was younger and dumber I helped some common theives wipe/reinstall. They, like you said, either didn't know the login pw and knew that it had to be wiped to get around that, or they knew that they couldn't sell it at most(not all) pawnshops if they couldn't boot it to to the dtop to show that it worked.

            I quit doing it because I came to a point in my life where I had too much to lose to mess with
        • Of course, this software won't necessarily work well if you have Linux as your primary OS on your laptop (or otherwise have it password-locked). If a thief boots your computer up and gets a login prompt, he's just going to wipe the hard drive and install Windows.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        you have to understand that half of the thieves will steal the laptop and go pawn so they can get some quick cash. the other half is interested in what information they can obtain from the stolen laptop in order to commit fraud.

        it's these thieves that you have to watch out for and protect yourself against! i can always replace a laptop. sure i'll be pissed and upset, but the harm that the theft can do to me stops at stealing the laptop.

        it can take YEARS and thousands of dollars to repair the damage identity

      • by arth1 (260657) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:56AM (#24182257) Homepage Journal

        The proof of the pudding is in the eating. How many laptops has this system recovered so far?

        Also, for a PC, I don't see what this software does that's more useful than the following crontab entry:

        30 * * * * perl -e 'sleep rand(1800)';\
        wget -q --spider http://my.website/report/LAPTOPNAME

        That too does a connect on average every half hour, and the IP address and time is being logged.

        It does not send any traceroute information (which would be easy enough to do with another half line in the crontab), because doing so could very well be considered illegal black hat activity on your part. Consider someone connecting a stolen laptop to a corporate network. Just because your laptop was stolen doesn't mean you have a right to examining the internal topography of that corporate network, and sending the information to a third party. I'm amazed that the authors of this software are stupid enough to do so!

        • by Vendetta (85883) on Monday July 14, 2008 @12:28PM (#24182653)
          How would it be illegal black hat activity on my part? It would be the fault of the douchebag who connected my laptop (that they stole) to this imaginary corporation's network. I'm not the criminal, the person who stole it is. Please, explain your logic to me.
          • by arth1 (260657)

            It would be illegal on your part because it was designed to get that information, specifically, and clandestinely.

            If you install a bomb in your laptop with a dead-mans-switch which requires you to touch a file at least every day, or it goes off, and someone steals your laptop and the bomb goes off killing innocent people, you can (and should) be blamed. This is no different.

            You have no way of knowing whether the network that the thief connects to is open or not, and indeed, the traceroute information would

            • by Woy (606550)

              If you are right (which i don't know enough to tell), then that looks like a liability lottery.

              • by arth1 (260657)

                If you are right (which i don't know enough to tell), then that looks like a liability lottery.

                Indeed, and I'm very surprised that the authors of this program chose to clandestinely collect information that may very well be proprietary.

                Scenario: Vendor with this software on his laptop accesses a corporate network. The information is sent to the remote logging site.
                A week later, someone breaks in to the corporate network, aided by the information about the local layout. This information was obtained by br

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  by hal9000(jr) (316943)
                  Listen to yourself, arth1. So if said user connects to uber-secret network, surfs to a web site his choosing, his IP is dutifully logged in the web server logs and the users cookie is logged in the app. So now the owner of the website is liable for having that IP?

                  Not likely. 1) traceroute is NOT hacker activity. It is a function of a properly working network stack. 2) if the user is connected to uber-secret network and htat network is in the reserved address space (rfc 1918), then the IP doens't matter.
            • by Vendetta (85883)
              A script that performs a relatively harmless traceroute is not analogous to putting a bomb in a laptop. There is a HUGE difference between the two, and if you can't see that difference you are deluding yourself.
              • by arth1 (260657)

                A script that performs a relatively harmless traceroute is not analogous to putting a bomb in a laptop. There is a HUGE difference between the two, and if you can't see that difference you are deluding yourself.

                The type of harm differs, Captain Obvious, but in both cases you have intentionally prepared something that is likely to cause an illegal act if stolen. There's no reason for the thief to suspect that this will happen, and thus no way to prevent it, and the responsibility for the action falls back o

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by photonic (584757)

          Consider someone connecting a stolen laptop to a corporate network. Just because your laptop was stolen doesn't mean you have a right to examining the internal topography of that corporate network, and sending the information to a third party. I'm amazed that the authors of this software are stupid enough to do so!

          So according to your logic, if I have a machine at my office that (for some good reason) sends a scan of the local network to HQ, reboots random local machines and sends goatse pictures to the local printer, then if someone steals this machine and plugs it into his network, they have the right to complain??

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Not everyone is a *nix geek. Yes there is a linux way to do things but not everyone wants to deal with that. There is an OS X and a Windows version.

          I bought my sister, brother and myself a version of Orbicle's Undercover [orbicule.com] which does everything this does and a bit more. It'll take pictures of the thieves (if your Mac has a built in iSight), change contrast, etc.)

          I was pondering making my own group of shell scripts do do something similar.
          curl -O mywebsite/stolen.txt. Leave it at a 0, then make it a 1 when my


        •           30 * * * * perl -e 'sleep rand(1800)';\
                  wget -q --spider http://my.website/report/LAPTOPNAME [my.website]

          That too does a connect on average every half hour, and the IP address and time is being logged.

          Average of every 15 minutes, I belive :)

          • by arth1 (260657)

            Average of every 15 minutes, I belive :)

            Actually, no. You're thinking of a loop with a random wait of 1800 seconds. This is a cron job, not a loop.

            However, you pointed me to a bug -- it executes on average once per hour.
            It should have read:

            0,30 * * * * perl -e 'sleep rand 1800';\
            wget -q --spider http://my.website/report/LAPTOPNAME

            That way, the script will be triggered once every half hour, after which it waits for up to half an hour and then executes. Two subsequent accesses may be as little as a secon

            • Wouldn't the rand give you a randome number between 0 and 1800, with an average of 900? This is 15 minutes. I do not user perl, so maybe I am misunderstanding the syntax...

              • by arth1 (260657)

                Wouldn't the rand give you a randome number between 0 and 1800, with an average of 900? This is 15 minutes.

                With "0,30 * * * *", the job gets called at 00:00, 00:30, 01:00, 01:30 and so on. The job then waits for 0-30 minutes (an average of 15 minutes as you pointed out), and then executes. That delay doesn't change that it's still triggered every half hour, and will run on average every half hour.

                The "perl -e 'sleep rand 1800'" could be changed to other values without affecting how often it runs. Just ho

      • by fm6 (162816)

        A lot? Maybe. (There was an amusing case recently where the thief was caught because he uploaded photos of his tats the the victim's .mac account.) Most? Definitely not. Assuming you actually make your living stealing stuff, and don't just grab the odd laptop off a table at Starbucks, then you have to take your booty to a fence [wikipedia.org]. And the first thing a fence does with any stolen property is to remove any traces of the original owner.

    • by ChowRiit (939581) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:20AM (#24181735)

      I suspect you may be somewhat overestimating the average criminal's technical abilities or knowledge. Maybe if this became a common sort of tool and were used all the time, people might begin to learn how to avoid it, but I can't see it being install on more than a tiny fraction of a percent of laptops for the near future...

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      Most honest people cant format and reinstall windows. you expect the dumber parts of society, the thieves, to know how to do that?

      Hell, I had a GPS recovered at a local pawn shop. I hacked it so when you turned it on it said "STOLEN FROM LUMPY! CALL 1-675-555-1212" and the moron still tried to sell it at a pawn shop.

  • Missing.. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by vigmeister (1112659) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:18AM (#24181719)

    Desktop love...

    Why exactly would this NOT work on a desktop? Or a UMPC? Or a ULCPC?

    Cheers!

    • Why exactly would this NOT work on a desktop? Or a UMPC? Or a ULCPC?

      It would work. But UMPCs and ULCPCs are usually put into the category of laptops. And laptops have slowly become to mean, something that is a computer and mobile.

      As for desktops, who carries a desktop around? Most people I know leave them at home. And if your house is broken into, you usually have a lot more to worry about then just your desktop being stolen. Plus, if there is evidence that your home was broken into, the police are going to be a lot more alert and through then if your laptop was taken

      • by cecille (583022)
        Apparantly you've never had the police respond to a break-in at your house. Around our area, they couldn't possibly care less. When our break-in happened, it was the middle of the day and there was a half hour between when my roommate left and when the police were called because someone saw the broken window. My roommate saw three kids out front before she left. Kids were spotted running out back like 20 mins later. These were not the slickest criminals either - we gave the police the soda bottle and v
        • I think a laptop would be over that amount almost by default.

          Well, it depends, Ive had a few $500 laptops and I am typing this on my EEE PC which is $350. But for the laptop the police could simply say that you lost it and are panicking and to call back X-days later, when a thief could wipe the HD, install pirated XP and sell it.

        • but the desktop is the machine with the beasty graphics card and water cooling. I've been pricing up a new computer recently and a moderately powerful system (but by no means bleeding edge), without a case or monitor (or water cooling) comes to just shy of the sterling equivalent of $1000. I can't see an entirely nicked desktop (can you include software in that $1000? "That machine has got office on it, add $100s") coming out under $1000, and certainly not much under.

          Crappy about the lack of police response

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by BPPG (1181851)
      Well, desktops tend to have rotary garfuncters, laptops use malleable garfuncters. Also, desktops tend to be too large, it needs to be on a smaller laptop for the software to work properly. Any computer shop employee can explain this to you.
    • by pla (258480)
      Why exactly would this NOT work on a desktop? Or a UMPC? Or a ULCPC?

      It would work just fine... But do you often take your desktop PC out for coffee?
      • by Arcane_Rhino (769339) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:56AM (#24182253)

        But do you often take your desktop PC out for coffee?

        Well, not so much anymore. Once I realized it was a "sure thing" I kind of stopped the romance.

        I felt kinda bad until I inserted the comment, "I wanna just stay in today" on the start-up splash.

      • by pbhj (607776)

        It would work just fine... But do you often take your desktop PC out for coffee?

        She prefers tea.

  • Prior art ? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gothmolly (148874) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:19AM (#24181729)

    I get warnings that my computer is broadcasting its IP address all the time !

  • by conner_bw (120497) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:23AM (#24181789) Homepage Journal

    All we need now is an open source justice mob with open source pitchforks and torches?

    Seriously, from what I understand. Locating your laptop is a lot easier than recovering it.

    The police are not likely to get involved. The user is probably not the thief but a buyer, etc.

    • by nategoose (1004564) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:54AM (#24182223)
      1. My brother's alienware laptop was stolen. 2. Reported to the police. 3. Alienware got a tech support call from some guy that bought it on eBay. 4. Guy sends it in for repair. 5. Alienware calls my brother to tell him they have it and only need the police to ask for it officially so they can send it as evidence. 6. My brother tells the police. 7. Police say "huh?" 8. Laptop never sent, buyer never questioned, thief never caught. Similar thing when my sister's credit cards were stolen and used to buy gas at places with security cameras, except then even the credit card company didn't seem to care.
      • by gcatullus (810326)

        Credit card companies couldn't care any less, because THEY are not out any money. Anything that was fraudulently charged on the cards gets charged back top the merchant. The gas station can try and go after the thief, but the police don't always go after that aggressively.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by silas_moeckel (234313)

          Actually CC companies make a lot of money on charge backs. There is an approx $30 fee that goes along with each one and it's for the full amount so they keep there original 1-5% fee as well. As vendors have more charge backs they even up the percentage they pay on all transactions. People with cards and the merchants are the only people that pay in the CC system the banks and CC companies just make money with no risk.

          • by gcatullus (810326)

            You are quite right - IMHO THAT is the reason that we don't have a more secure credit card system in place. There is absolutely no incentive for the cartel to do any better. Especially with this illusion of PCI compliance. PCI is just a clever way for Visa/Mastercard to palm off any responsibility whatsoever to the merchant.

      • by Hugonz (20064)

        Allow the market to work in the security, police and court industry. Everyone agreed to recover the property, except the one that's *supposed* to be interested in it. Here's how:

        http://www.freedomainradio.com/Traffic_Jams/stateless_society_take_2_320.mp3 [freedomainradio.com]

    • by kabocox (199019)

      Seriously, from what I understand. Locating your laptop is a lot easier than recovering it.
      The police are not likely to get involved. The user is probably not the thief but a buyer, etc.

      Um, the police don't like to get involved if there isn't tracking software/hardware in place because then it becomes nearly impossible to actually find said object. Best that they can do is put all the info into NCIC just incase it is found or recovered by any other law enforcement agency. Now, if you had tracking and knew e

  • by iminplaya (723125) <iminplaya.gmail@com> on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:24AM (#24181797) Journal

    This sounds suspiciously like some kind of P2P thing. I think it should be outlawed :\

  • by tttonyyy (726776) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:26AM (#24181847) Homepage Journal

    users of Adeona can rest assured that no one can abuse the system in order to track where they use their laptop

    Honestly, publishing that on slashdot is like telling a small child "there is no way you can reach the delicious stash of chocolate in that cupboard right there"

    • No, its more like saying, you have the key, no one else can open it. Which I suppose that someone could cut off the locks, and open whatever you have locked. But the possibility of that would be lower then if you gave the key to 10 other people.

      And it is no more of a challenge then saying that your browser is open source, that means that no one can force you to upgrade it.
    • by conner_bw (120497)

      Yeah, I got burned for that once [duo-creative.com]. Never again...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      All I care about is the ability to remotely WIPE the machine. I dont care about recovery as Insurance gives me a new upgrade when it's stolen. I want to be able to trigger a switch that will wipe the thing hard and replace the windows boot with "STOLEN LAPTOP!" but will settle for simply wiping the drive silently.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by arth1 (260657)

        A dead man's switch would do that.
        The problems with them are that they are more often triggered inadvertently than for good reason. If you have to touch a file, access a web page, or otherwise take an action, what happens when you get pneumonia and are out with fever for a week? And if relies on an external automated function, like your server hitting a port regularly, and a zap occur if the machine hasn't been poked in a few days, what happens when you go on vacation or have the machine repaired, and for

  • Did we need this? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by pla (258480) on Monday July 14, 2008 @11:45AM (#24182115) Journal
    Adeona is the first Open Source system for tracking the location of your lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary, central service.

    ...Because putting "wget mywebsite.com" in your system startup script (yes, you can do that on Windows as well, you just need to download wget first) has sooooo many proprietary, centralized dependancies?

    I actually use something very like that, solely for the purpose of finding my own remote machines' dynamic IP addresses. I don't really see the need for a dedicated "project" to make an entry in your access_log on startup.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by manastungare (596862)

      And their claim is far from accurate: there have been several systems, home-grown or libre software, before theirs.

      Here's mine, for example: laptop theft protector [tungare.name], which has been around for at least an year.

    • Then don't code for the project.

      The thing here isn't if you think "we" need it; it's that someone thought we might and created it.

      I mean are we really so desperate to complain about something that if someone gives us something for free (and open) we still feel entitled to moan? Maybe the project will pick up more interest and start doing some other interesting things, like integrating with the open bios project. But either way, this is gravy. Applaud it or ignore it, but for fucks sakes enough with the
      • by oncehour (744756)
        Well said. There's far too many in this community that would rather bitch and moan than help or provide support.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by rukkyg (1028078)

      Not everyone has their own web servers. This system uses the OpenDHT so anyone can use it, and it doesn't depend on your servers being up.

  • I love those sample pictures of debased laptop thieves furtively inspecting their ill-gotten goods...

    Or maybe the Mac demographic is a lot less latte-drinking yuppie than commonly assumed? ;D

  • Adeona is the first Open Source system for tracking the location of your lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary, central service.

    Define your terms, please. It's a client-server application, so by definition there's a central location. As for "proprietary", well, I guess it's cool that the software is open-source, but most of us don't choose software for religious reasons.

    This solution is touted as being more privacy-conscious than existing "phone home" solutions, but I don't see it. In theory, use of encryption makes the data inaccessible to anybody but the owner of the laptop. In practice, technology is not a substitute for a well-m

  • Photos too! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FirstTimeCaller (521493) on Monday July 14, 2008 @01:20PM (#24183403)
    Hmm... the Mac version also snaps a photo with each update. I hope no one is doing anything inappropriate while in front of their computer. Here's hoping that your Macbook isn't stolen by the Goatse guy.
  • I just got my laptop stolen. As i understand, there is no way to log in to a Vista laptop if you don't know the password to the machine's only administrator account. If they can't log in, they will just reformat.

    If i would have logged in with no password , yes maybe i could have tracked them with their ip address and such, but then they would have had access to all my files which of course i don't want to.

    So, is this really needed? Next laptop i will also set a password in the BIOS.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sheph (955019)
      Yes because it's so difficult to set the jumper that clears the BIOS.
  • by Britz (170620) on Monday July 14, 2008 @01:45PM (#24183861) Homepage

    Now I am supposed to set up a second system the laptop defaults to boot into just to install this software? Not thx, not on my limited laptop hard drive. I mean the whole point of my completely encrypted laptop is so that I don't have to worry about it getting stolen, because they won't be able to use the data aginst me or my customers.

  • Encrypted drives... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kludge (13653) on Monday July 14, 2008 @02:33PM (#24184619)

    Assuming that I encrypt my hard drive, this software will not work, correct? And if you have a laptop, you really should encrypt it, no?

Mathematicians stand on each other's shoulders. -- Gauss

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