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Mar 28 / kkrizka

How To Setup fprint For Fingerprint Authentication On Ubuntu

A while ago I talked about how you can setup the ThinkFinger package to enable fingerprint authentication on Ubuntu. The entire setup works quite well (at least for me), but it has its problems because it is specific for Lenovo laptops and so there is not much demand for it. This is where fprint enters: fprint is an attempt at creating an open source module that can interface with different fingerprint scanners (not only limited to ThinkPads!) and has reached a relatively “usable” stage at which I think exceeds ThinkFinger. First of all it has a nice (however simple) graphical interface and allows you to enroll several fingers. This tutorial is based on information provided by Fabián Rodríguez and packages created by Pavel Rojtberg. Therefore most of the credit goes to them as I only mean to create a condensed version of Fabián’s tutorial that can be followed by any non-technical Ubuntu user.

  1. The first step is to add the PPA repository to your sources list. Just add the following line to the end of the /etc/apt/sources.list file:
    deb hardy main restricted universe multiverse
  2. Now you have to update your apt cache to include the list of packaged from the newly added repository. Just run the following command:
    sudo aptitude update
  3. The next step is to install the actual packages, including: a graphical interface (fprint-demo), the actual module (libfprint) and a PAM module to allow easy authentication (libpam-print).
    sudo aptitude install fprint-demo libpam-fprint libfprint
  4. Run the command fprint_demo to enroll yourself into the database. The opened application should look like the following screenshot. Just click on the enroll button, and swipe your finger three times for each. Also note if you have trouble with scanning certain fingers, just skip them. You do not need to have the entire collection.screenshot-fprint-project-demo.png
  5. Make sure that your /etc/pam.d/common-auth file contains the following lines. If you already added the ThinkFinger PAM module, make sure to remove any referenced to it from the same file!
    auth sufficient
    auth required nullok_secure
  6. You are done, just make sure to leave normal password authentication enabled for now. Because fprint is still at an early stage and might have some problems.


Leave a comment
  1. Martin / May 3 2008

    Great Posts – thanks a lot. Fprint works fine for me on my Thinkpad X61t with Ubuntu Hardy.

    But there are two issues, which I’m not so happy about:

    – I have to enter my username to login – so I have to swivel the screen to keyboard mode. Is there a way to setup a standard username?

    – During login, the username box will be deactivated and the system is waiting for the fingerprint. Without any message. A message would be great – at least, which fingerprint the system is expecting. Right at the moment I only have stored one fingerprint, but I like to add all fingers.

    Do you have any ideas or solutions?


  2. Paul / May 19 2008

    Thanks for the great guide.

  3. Nicholas / Aug 20 2008

    Aptitude isn’t finding installation candidates for fprint-demo, libpam-fprint, or libfprint, even though I’ve added the correct repository and updated apt. Any ideas?

  4. Dalis / Aug 26 2008

    The same by me, the reason is simple. is no more containing the Hardy packages (nor Gutsy).

    Workaround for Gutsy users is to download tarball here:

    The packages for Hardy I haven’t found yet ;-(

    Any idea?


  5. rac / Aug 31 2008

    they are in hardy-backports and in interpids repo…
    but there is a bug within sudo application
    for a howto do a partial config (gdm login and screensaver lock) you can go to

  6. Drew / Sep 17 2008

    I used your method, works great, except for one issue… sudo gives me a segmentation fault at what seemed like random times. A quick search found this…
    Hope is helps out others too.


  7. Nick Karek / Mar 16 2010

    how do i add the lines
    “auth sufficient
    auth required nullok_secure” to my /etc/pam.d/common-auth file? Thanks!

  8. Karol Krizka / Mar 16 2010

    Nick: You can use a text editor. Type the following in a terminal:
    sudo gedit /etc/pam.d/common-auth

    You will be then asked for your password (the sudo command gives you administrator privileges) and a text editor will pop up.

  9. nicolas roy / Oct 13 2010

    Thanks a lot for your Website full of usefull information.
    I followed your instructions, but i have the following problem, that i’m now always asked to authenticate BOTH with my password and then with my finger. I expected that i could choose either one or the other way. Isn’t it ?


  10. Bacco / Oct 24 2010

    Great tutorial BUT:
    when I follow all that in Ubuntu 10.10, and I reastart, nothing is recognized. I am unable to login; nor with keyboard or finger scan!!!
    What can I do?

  11. Bacco / Oct 24 2010

    by running in root mode and editing the file /etc/pam.d/common-auth
    and takeing the lines
    auth sufficient
    auth required nullok_secure
    out of the file, I could login with the keyboard.

    I still need to understand how to be able to use the fprint (but keeping the keyboard as an option).
    Any help?

    • mcheeze / Jan 10 2011

      I am having the same problems as Bacco except I’m still running 10.04, any insight?

      • Bacco / Feb 24 2011

        No news from my side.
        I simply not going to use it.
        I guess the technology is not yet fine tuned for all flavors
        But who knows, maybe one day someone will find more options to have finger print working.

        • Karol Krizka / Feb 24 2011

          I agree with that. It is impossible ASAIK to use both keyboard and fingerprint at the same time. It is one or the other… More work needs to be still done in this field.

  12. csaba / Oct 26 2010

    Really thanks! It works for me!!

  13. dentist / Feb 4 2011

    Thank you very much with regard to a really superb blog! I can think about a lot of webpage that does not provide helpful information UNLIKE yours blogsite. Excellent!

  14. premium breast up / Feb 20 2011

    Great! It is cool to see this. I learned something new

  15. harald / Mar 11 2011

    Hi Karol,

    Finally your useful instructions…………………worked right away no problems at all!!! Great.
    Deleted the double references lines in the configuration file, important

    (I followed so many experts advice but nothing worked untill now)

    Thanks Thanks hugs :-)

  16. patel / Jun 9 2011

    i have done programming in fprint..
    1 to match with many fingerprint….
    if u want to any information …
    so contact on my email address:

  17. Aditya Pratap V. / Sep 25 2011

    Thanks for the useful post. Fingerprint Authentication works seamlessly on my Acer Aspire 5738z.

  18. vasta / Sep 28 2011

    I’ve been successfully install it on my system
    but, the apps can’t detect the hardware

    my system :
    Acer Extensa 4630 (notebook)
    OS : BackBox Linux

  19. Fa773N.M0nK / Mar 7 2012

    Thanks a lot! Really helped me!

    It is a good added info that the place where

    auth sufficient
    auth required nullok_secure

    is put in “/etc/pam.d/common-auth”

    makes a great difference to the login process!

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