Linux: Thinking With Fingers

I have yet another perfect example of how Peace Corps is no longer your mom and dad’s Peace Corps. This morning, my most pressing issue at work was getting the biometric fingerprint scanner working in Ubuntu so that I could demonstrate biometric authentication to my students during class today (granted we have power, today being Thursday and all). My ICTT students are learning about Users and Security in their lecture on Operating Systems and we’ve gone over PIN authentication which they understand because their mobile phones use PINs to unlock their SIM Cards; user and password authentication which they understand because they use it every day to log into their computers, but where does that leave me for biometric authentication?

Thankfully, NYS has provided me with fairly advanced computers, and honestly, this is why I loved the Free and Open Source Software world. My computers come with fingerprint scanners built into the keyboards, and with a little Google-ing, sure enough there is an open source driver for this scanner and it integrates perfectly into my pre-existing setup. No crazy applications that change default behavior, no humongous install files that need to be downloaded, no trial software that expires after 30 days unless I crack it. Just a simple, small module that plugs into my pre-existing system and seamlessly integrates fingerprint scanning. Now, I can demonstrate to my students biometric authentication, and they can see it in real life.

If you don’t care much about Linux tech, no need to read further. If you do care about Linux, and particularly getting fingerprint scanning working, this may be of interest to you.

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