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Ask Slashdot: Good Tracking Solutions For Linux Laptop? 253

Posted by samzenpus
from the ping-home dept.
First time accepted submitter WillHPower writes "So I have ordered a new Ubuntu-powered laptop. I spent some extra bucks on lots of RAM and a good sized solid state drive. After putting money into it, I'd like to find a way to track this laptop in case it's ever stolen. Are there any good tracking software/services the run on Linux laptops? Also, are there any other techniques besides tracking for dealing with a lost or stolen laptop that I should consider?"
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Ask Slashdot: Good Tracking Solutions For Linux Laptop?

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  • No (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:13AM (#44216021)

    No, there's no good Linux HW tracking software. Why? Cause there's no good software for other platforms either. It's all "make-you-feel-good-software" which doesn't survive a simple OS reinstallation...

  • PREY (Score:2, Insightful)

    by kcmastrpc (2818817) on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:17AM (#44216063)
  • by stewsters (1406737) on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:19AM (#44216077)
    Get internal gps. Dual boot with a no-password windows xp account. The thief will have a much higher chance to log into that. Make it spam a home server with its coordinates every second its on and has access to the internet. Encrypt your linux partition. The key is you want the thief not to just wipe it and sell it, they need to power it on.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:22AM (#44216105)

    ...the problem seems to be that just knowing the IP of your stolen computer is not enough for the police to get it back for you. It seems they also want a photo of the thief taken while using the computer, which complicated matters a lot. At least that's what other users have reported.

  • by advid.net (595837) <.ten.divda. .ta. .todhsals.> on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:27AM (#44216133) Journal

    The first thing the theft will do: an offline OS installation.

    I bet the stolen Linux laptop will have its OS erased to either to run MS Windows or an other Linux distro.

  • Re:Disk encryption (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:28AM (#44216147)

    Exactly.

    In fact, just forget tracking, and encrypt the whole disk---if it gets stolen, shrug it off, and buy another one (again, do full disk encryption).

    There's not much you can do about crime (sure, you *might* be one of those few folks who locates their laptop, and then breaks the law in some stupid way trying to retrieve it---or infinitely less likely, gets the thief slapped on the wrist by the cops).

    Password protect bios, encrypt disk, etc., make it a hassle for someone who ends up with it, but that's pretty much it. Your toy is gone---the quicker you get over it, the better off you'll be.

  • Re:Disk encryption (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greg1104 (461138) <gsmith@gregsmith.com> on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:32AM (#44216177) Homepage

    If you encrypt the boot drive properly, it won't boot to anywhere useful without a password. That means you can't use any of the OS-level tracking solutions, because the thief won't be able to boot into the regular OS. If you've let a criminal boot far enough to track them properly, you've really let them get too close to your data.

    It sucks in a way that a locked down system can't also phone home easily to find the thief, but realistically that's the trade-off here. I'm willing to write off the cost of a laptop if it's stolen, as long as the thief doesn't also get access to any personal data I have on the drive. Recovering from a case of identity theft costs a lot more than any single device.

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:38AM (#44216219) Homepage Journal

    The key is you want the thief not to just wipe it and sell it, they need to power it on.

    Depends on the style of thief; your typical, garden-variety tweeker looking for something to sell to the pawn shop probably won't even crack the top, let alone try and boot the thing... a pro or semi-pro identity thief, on the other hand...

    Then there's the ever-present bored-teenage-vandal types (especially prevalent this time of year)... those kids are likely going to break into the machine to see what kind of "cool" (read: pornographic) stuff you've got on there, shortly before they completely trash the hardware.

  • Prey (Score:3, Insightful)

    by readingaccount (2909349) on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:44AM (#44216253)

    Apologies if this sounds like I'm some sort of shill, but I'm not. Just a happy customer:

    http://preyproject.com/ [preyproject.com]

    * Free and open source
    * Completely passive
    * If the laptop is reported missing (and has net access to know this), Prey will report its geo-location via Google Maps, take passive captures of the user with the laptop's webcam, take screenshots of their activity, and if necessary completely lock down the computer (though you'd normally do this manually and as a last resort - once locked, the thief will probably ditch it very quickly). Does other things as well.
    * Works on Win/OSX/Linux/iOS/Android

    * Allows you to run it in two ways:
    1. Make an account on the website, install the software and link it to your account, so that should your laptop go missing you can report its absence via the site and it'll do its thing once the laptop goes online elsewhere. Free accounts all you to link up to 3 devices, pro accounts allow more in addition to more features, but you'll easily be fine with a free account.
    2. If you want to be completely independent, you can run Prey stand-alone. No account needed - it works by monitoring for the existence of a URL when online, and if said URL reports a 404 error, it triggers and sends reports via email. Hence, you set up some free hosting with a dummy file, point Prey to the full URL of said file, then if laptop goes walkies, remove the file from the host to trigger Prey. No reliance on accounts or anything. Bit much for a regular user but easy enough for advanced users and not dependent on a company for the software to keep working.

  • DDoS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Doug Otto (2821601) on Monday July 08, 2013 @10:50AM (#44216327)
    Configure it to launch a DDoS against the NSA and FBI if your password isn't entered within 30 seconds of booting.

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