Adeona is an OpenSource software that’s designed to help track and retrieve stolen laptops.
It’s available for Linux, Mac OS X 10.4+ and also for Windows XP / Vista.
There are a number of commercial tracking software that notify owners about the stolen notebooks whereabouts by tracking the IP address and location, but Adeona (named after the Roman goddess of safe returns), is different in that it takes the owner’s privacy very seriously. No one except the owner is allowed to track the laptop in question.
Adeona is designed to use the Open Source OpenDHT distributed storage service to store location updates sent by a small software client installed on an owner’s laptop. The client continually monitors the current location of the laptop, gathering information (such as IP addresses and local network topology) that can be used to identify its current location. The client then uses strong cryptographic mechanisms to not only encrypt the location data, but also ensure that the ciphertexts stored within OpenDHT are anonymous and unlinkable. At the same time, it is easy for an owner to retrieve location information.
The designers claim that Adeona will only start tracking operations after proper authentication by the owner and not a moment before to prevent any kind of abuse. A bonus for Mac OS X users is the software’s ability to take a snapshot of the person currently using the laptop using the built-in iSight camera and the freeware tool isightcapture. Like your location information, these images are privacy-protected so that only the laptop owner (or an agent of the owner’s choosing) can access them.
Oh, and before I forget – this service is free. Mind you, this isn’t foolproof software, not by a long shot. The client shows up in the Task Manager and can also be seen in the list of running processes in both Linux and Mac OS environments. Other commercial offerings certainly make it harder for thieves to detect and also to remove themselves, but then this is designed to trap “common” thieves – the kind you expect to grab your laptop and then try to sell it as soon as possible.