Integrated Fingerprint Reader

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IBM Integrated Fingerprint Reader

Integrated Fingerprint Reader

IBM released a second generation of T42 models in Autumn 2004 featuring Intel Pentium M 765 processors and an integrated fingerprint reader.

The fingerprint reader is produced by a company called UPEK, which specializes in the manufacture of fingerprint readers. It is integrated as an USB device, and does all the matching in hardware, making it rather easy to use. Furthermore, IBM states that there's an interface with the Embedded Security Subsystem. UPEK now sells the fingerprint reader as a USB peripheral bundled with the same underlying software for accessing password-protected online accounts and Windows: Eikon Digital Privacy Manager

Some new Lenovo ThinkPads including the T400 have switched from the UPEK to one based on the AuthenTec USB device. For Linux users, this means that thinkfinger will no longer work. libfprint will likely soon have a driver.

However: The fingerprint reader is an INSECURE device and gives a false sense of security! There has been quite a bit of research by a hacker named Starbug, a member of the Chaos Computer Club, Berlin, Germany. He outlined in two very good talks how to forge each and every available fingerprint sensor available at the cost of a few euros, using materials from your local hardware store, a digicam and a laser printer! Here's some links:

Remember, using fingerprints for authentication is much similar to having a password which is written on anything you touch.

Open Source

There is a new GPL driver at; see the How to enable the fingerprint reader with ThinkFinger for detailed instructions. This is the recommended option as it integrates more seamlessly with PAM and doesn't produce a tacky graphical prompt.

If you've followed the instructions and "tf-tool --verify" works, but nothing else does, make sure that the "uinput" module is loaded.

Newer variants of the R61 require a different driver. This newer fingerprint reader device sits on the USB bus with USB ID 147e:2016. An open source driver has been developed by the fprint project. Installation instructions can be found at System76.

Binary Only

A closed source driver from the vendor has been released. It interfaces to the hardware as a user-space USB driver through /proc/bus/usb and provides a BioAPI 1.10 device, which can then be interfaced to pam for authentication by user programs. The driver can be downloaded from; see the corresponding HOWTO for detailed instructions. It however tends to be less stable than the above opensource driver.

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