Fingerprint readers, whether for legitimate security reasons or just as a nifty feature that lets you feel vaguely James Bond-ish, have checkered support under Linux. However there is always a solution.
While not a crucial feature (nor one that I was missing) of my laptop, I was still slightly annoyed with how my fingerprint reader held out on me, as the only hardware feature of my laptop that wasn’t working out-of-the-box.
However, in this lovely community of ours there is never a doubt that there exist folks with similar problems who have taken it upon themselves to fix them.
So through a bit of web searching, I came across a PPA for Ubuntu with the latest libraries but also containing a nifty user interface for managing your device and enrolling fingerprints.
Installing Fingerprint GUI in Ubuntu
To get support for fingerprint-based authentication in Ubuntu as well as the related GUI, you need only add the following PPA and install a few packages.
sudo apt-add-repository ppa:fingerprint/fingerprint-gui && sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install libbsapi policykit-1-fingerprint-gui fingerprint-gui
*It ought to be noted that the related PolicyKit package for the fingerprint stack will remove the default one (“policykit-gnome” , etc. depending on your environment) thus if you do decide to remove the fingerprint PPA, you must reinstall this package manually, or risk a broken system.
In order for the new defaults to take effect you’ll need to run the GUI and enroll a few fingers, then restart the session by logging out and back in.
Now you can have fun unlocking your screen, logging out and in, sudo-ing and running things with root privileges, using your fingerprints (or toeprints, should you choose to register one) –of course you can still use your password.
More info regarding this can be found on the Launchpad project page (such as a list of supported hardware, etc.)