Integrated Fingerprint Reader

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IBM Integrated Fingerprint Reader

Integrated Fingerprint Reader

IBMs second generation of T42 models (released in Autumn 2004) was the first to feature an integrated fingerprint reader. Various models since then have had this feature, actually implemented with a number of different devices, all of which appear on the USB bus. Some are just scanners, others do the recognition in the device itself.

Thinkpad Models Reader Software
T42(p) T43(p) T60(p) T61(p) UPEK thinkfinger or fprint
V100 Authentec AES1610 fprint
N100 Authentec AES2501 fprint
R61 Upeksonly fprint
T400 x200(s) Authentec 2810 unsupported

Read more about the various models of reader on the libfprint wiki

The UPEK device is supported by thinkfinger. Those devices and Authentec ones are supported by libfprint.

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.

Free Software

For some time various projects provided support for various readers. That work is being unified under the fprint library, and thus libfprint and libpam-fprint (which provides authentication via PAM) are the best way to go. These are not yet available in all distros, and for those, where you have supported hardware, thinkfinger is more widely available at the time of writing.

Thinkfinger is at; see the How to enable the fingerprint reader with ThinkFinger for detailed instructions. It is also in Debian Lenny. This integrates 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.

Binary Only

A closed source driver for the UPEK device is available. 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 drivers.

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Models featuring this Technology