fprint project featured in LWN

fprint is featured in the November 21 edition of LWN, which should be helpful in spreading the word further!

The article mentions that libfprint does not support identification (one-to-many fingerprint matching) yet. I just released libfprint v0.0.4 which adds identification support, and fprint_demo v0.4 which includes a GUI to demonstrate it. Talk about yesterday’s news ;-)

Torkild Retvedt contributed a logo, which you can see above. I’m happy to consider further logo submissions, but I do like Torkild’s and it will do very nicely for an initial project logo. Thanks Torkild!

Patrick Guignot spotted the LWN article, did some further research, and then published an article about fprint on linuxfr.org. I have only seen the google translation, but I must say, translation artifacts aside, that is an extremely well written article which has hit on exactly what I’m trying to achieve. I’ve written to Patrick to see if he’ll translate it into English or give me permission to find someone else to do so – I will publish any results here.

Update: Patrick doesn’t know English well enough to write his own translation. Any French-speaking volunteers who wouldn’t mind spending some time translating this into English?

8 Responses to “fprint project featured in LWN”

  1. patrick guignot Says:

    Hello Daniel,

    Of course you have my permission to translate my article in english. I cannot do the job myself because i am not competent enough.
    I can read english but it’s vastly harder and intimidating to write ;-)

    Thanks a lot for the fprint project and for all your work.


  2. Kevin Bowling Says:

    Great! This is very exciting. I think the finger print readers in laptops are very handy and it will be nice when they work out of the box in the major distros as most other things do these days.

  3. kang Says:

    Hi, this is a free translation of the French article: http://linuxfr.org/2007/11/22/23395.html

    Links are omitted (blog posts … :p)

    Translation notes:
    - fingerprint scanner can also be written fingerprint reader. I prefer the later however scanner seems to be the official word. well, easily replaced if you want to duplicate this translation.
    - i believe my translation to be as free as typo as i could (aspell says so ;p)
    - this translation is provided under as is, for free with no warranty of any kind.

    Finally, I hope the English is Ok for you and that you will find it helpful.
    I personally used your code when you first posted it (way before this fprint project) and modified it to work with some microsoft readers. I made my own algorithm as NIST’s algorithm was hard to obtain and it is quite slower than what they did (yet, it worked and is acceptable on a fast machine :)

    Good luck with it!

    The translation follows:

    The Fprint project and digital fingerprint scanners

    The digital fingerprint scanners are getting more and more common in today’s life. Many laptops
    are now offering one built in, and external scanners are easy to find everywhere.

    However, using these biometric devices on Linux is still an issue. Often, the scanner simply
    do not support Linux at all. When, by luck, it is support by Linux, it’s often by a proprietary
    Linux module, with it’s own API and no code shared with other fingerprint scanners.

    That is why the Fprint project, initiated by Daniel Drake, is so important for the free software world.

    You will find more details about Fprint after the jump.

    This project has been announced only a few weeks ago, but has been under development sine many months
    now, as a university project by Daniel Drake. He’s a student at the Manchester university.

    His objective, is to make as easy as possible to port fingerprint scanner drivers on Linux. In order to achieve
    this goal, it is mandatory to simplify the work of the programmers, so that they can code good applications for the users.

    As the project’s e-mail announcement declares:

    – Software developers should not have to worry about the kind of fingerprint scanner being used
    – Software developers should not have to worry about the fact that a scanner A only take image snapshots, while the scanner B does the complete fingerprint processing internally.
    – Software developers should not have to worry about writing new code to handle a new scanner

    To achieve this complete abstraction, the Fprint project propose the libfprint library (under the GPL license). When using this library, software programmers will get support for every fingerprint scanners at once.

    This library contain image recognition code, given away to the public by the National Institute of
    Standards and Technology (NIST). Various optimized algorithms let you analyze the interesting
    points of the digital images (Minutiae), in only 0.15 seconds for a 384×289 image, on a single core 2Ghz laptop.

    Bundled with this library, there is also an authentication module called pam_fprint, that handle the complete
    login procedure on a machine using fingerprint scanners.

    As of today, four drivers are currently using the libfprint library:

    - uru4000 (used by Microsoft with DigitalPersona)
    - aes4000 (used by Authentec AES4000)
    - aes2501 (used by Authentec AES2501)
    - upekts (used by UPEK TouchStrip)

    We can feel the strength of the Fprint project through these four drivers. While all very different technically,
    the libfprint abstraction layer hide all these hardware details to the programmers.

    For example, the DigitalPersonna fingerprint scanner only send an image of the fingerprint to the
    computer and do not process it at all. The computer’s CPU must process the image and determine
    if the fingerprint is recognized or not. On the contrary, the UPEK TouchStrip fingerprint scanner does
    the complete processing internally. The digital fingerprint is analyzed by an integrated chip, and the
    driver only replies with a boolean result (OK or NOT OK).

    The abstraction layer libfprint is sufficiently high level to hide all these technical details from the
    software programmer. It’s also then possible to share the code and avoid duplicating efforts.

    Daniel Drake also developed a demo application, using GTK, in order to test the different functionalities
    provided by the libfprint. Screenshots are available on the dedicated page on the project website.

    On the other solutions side, the BioAPI cannot really fit free software users. The FAQ from the Fprint project
    explains why. To summarize, BioAPI is a very complex API. The consortium is closed and the standards
    used not free. Also, the BioAPI didn’t really get a warm welcome from the developers and drivers based on it seems rare.

    To conclude, Fprint is the backbone project that the free software world was awaiting, in order to use fingerprint
    scanner easily under GNU/Linux.

  4. patrick guignot Says:

    Thanks kang !

    One error : it’s LGPL for the libfprint and not GPL

  5. kang Says:

    wrote it at 3am when coming home xD well feel free to fix anything wrong if u wanna reuse it, it’s totally free on my side ;)

  6. remy Says:

    Great job Daniel, i feel the force is with you !
    May Fprint be a success, and module authors use it ;)

    Thanks a lot

  7. Lori Widmer Says:

    I just dropped by to tell you how much I enjoy your site, Daniel. You bring an enthusiasm to the industry that we could all learn from. A belated happy birthday to you. :) I gave you some link love over on my site, posting on Friday.

  8. dsd’s weblog » Blog Archive » writings Says:

    [...] Guignot’s LinuxFR article has been translated by kang on a previous [...]

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