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Adeona: Open Source Lojack For Laptops

Adeona Phones Home Stolen Laptops

  • May 6, 2009
  • By A. Lizard

Adeona has been widely touted (194K hits at google) as the Open Source solution to protecting your laptop or netbook.

It is intended to send a tracking signal from your computer to a server network. The tracking information is encrypted with a key generated during installation to protect user privacy. If your computer disappears, use the retrieval software bundled with the program to query the server network and hopefully, retrieve the IP address where your computer is connected to the Internet, and information on nearby routers. The OS X version allows photographs taken from the computer's webcam to be retrieved. Hopefully, the retrieved information will make it possible for law enforcement to retrieve your computer. But as good as this sounds Adeona has some roadblocks; if you're in a hurry, skip ahead to the Here's the bad news section.

You must install Adeona on both netbook/laptop and on whatever machine you plan to retrieve the tracking information from. Retrieval of information about laptop location requires a retrieval key from the netbook/laptop which is generated during the installation of Adeona.

You can download Adeona from here. Dependencies:

  1. OpenSSL
  2. traceroute
  3. cron
  4. iwconfig [optional]


Of these commands, cron and iwconfig are most likely to be already installed in a default Ubuntu laptop or netbook installation. In Debian/Ubuntu, OpenSSL means the default install plus the development tool package libssl-dev. Iwconfig is part of the wireless-tools package.

So . . .

# aptitude install cron wireless-tools openssl libssl-dev traceroute cron

Since aptitude won't install a package if is already installed, it's safe to use the above command line even if two or more of these packages are already installed. In my Ubuntu netbook installation, traceroute and libssl-dev were the only things actually installed.

Then, do the usual build-from-source:
cd to whatever directory the Adeona tarball is installed to

# tar -xvf adeona*
# cd adeona
# ./configure
# make install

type “y” “to the do you want to install ?” question

When the crontab entry which will make sure Adeona runs on startup appears, copy and paste it from the terminal to a text editor because you'll need it later.

# crontab -e

Pick nano from your editor choice (unless you really like something else better)

Paste the crontab line entry generated by Adeona into the crontab file.

Once you are done, transfer a copy of your key to whichever computer you expect to use for finding your netbook, and install a copy of Adeona for whatever supported OS you run on it. Don't worry about the crontab file on the retrieval machine unless it's a laptop/netbook you also want Adeona to protect, otherwise there's no particular reason to send location updates.

I simply attached the adeona-retrievecredentials.ost encryption key to an e-mail and sent it to my desktop, otherwise, transport it via flash drive, ftp, or whatever's convenient to a place where you can find it when you need it. It won't do you any good if it's on your netbook and the netbook is stolen.

Retrieval:

To find your netbook if stolen, you must retrieve the location information for your netbook from the OpenDHT database. To do this, you must have Adeona installed to whatever computer you want to use to track your laptop. Any Adeona installation will work, whether on Linux, OSX, or Windows.

This assumes the default Linux installation, if your files are somewhere else, modify the following retrieval command accordingly. The following command is a single line regardless of how this web page inserts page breaks:

# /usr/local/adeona/adeona-retrieve.exe -r /usr/local/adeona/resources -l /usr/local/adeona/resources/logs -s /path-to/adeona-retrievecredentials.ost -n 1

-r = resource directory (configuration files)
-l = output log directory
-s = location of adeona-retrievecredentials.ost file.
-n = number of updates to collect

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