How to Install and Use Prey to Protect Your Ubuntu Linux Laptop from Theft

This tutorial will be showing you how to install and Use Prey to protect your Ubuntu 16.04, Ubuntu 17.04 Linux computer. Prey is a free, open-source and lightweight laptop tracking software that will help you find, lock and recover your computer should it ever get lost or stolen.

It’s available for Linux, OS X, Windows, Android, iOS. Prey is packed with features that outshine paid-for software. Prey features:

  • Wi-Fi auto connect
  • GPS and Wi-Fi geolocation
  • Lightweight
  • Webcam and screenshot capture
  • Remote data removal
  • Lockdown PC
  • Control zones.

You can add up to 3 devices to your free account and store a maximum of 20 reports. There’s also a pro version, which is proprietary.

How to Install Prey Client on Ubuntu 16.04 and Ubuntu 17.04

Prey can be installed from Ubuntu repository, but the version is very outdated. To install the latest 1.6.6 version, go to preyproject.com and download the Ubuntu deb package. The Linux version support 32 bits and 64 bits OS. There is also a generic binary installer for other Linux distributions.

prey ubuntu 16.04

If you prefer terminal, then you can download the Prey deb package using the following command.

32 bits

wget https://downloads.preyproject.com/prey-client-releases/node-client/1.6.6/prey_1.6.6_i386.deb

64 bits

wget https://downloads.preyproject.com/prey-client-releases/node-client/1.6.6/prey_1.6.6_amd64.deb

Once it’s downloaded, we need to install some dependencies.

sudo apt install giblib1 libimlib2 mpg123 scrot streamer xawtv-plugins

Then install Prey with dpkg.

sudo dpkg -i prey_1.6.6_amd64.deb

Alternatively, you can use gdebi to automatically handle dependencies.

sudo apt install gdebi-core

sudo gdebi prey_1.6.6_amd64.deb

Once the installation is complete, The Prey config GUI will appear. If it doesn’t appear, you can use the following command to bring it up.

prey config gui

First, tell the configurator whether you are a new user or an existing user.

configure prey ubuntu

New users will be presented with a sign-up form in the next window. If you are an existing user, you can sign in with your account credentials in the next window.

install prey ubuntu

Once you’ve signed up or signed in, your computer is automatically registered in your Prey account.

install prey linux

Prey runs silently in the background. There’s no graphical desktop app for Prey. Visit preproject.com, login and use the web-based control panel to start tracking it.

install prey ubuntu 16.04

With a free account, you can install Prey client on 3 devices and add them to your account. If your computer gets lost or stolen, you will need to go to the web-based control panel to report a missing computer.

Finding a Lost or Stolen Laptop

After you set your device to missing, Prey can provide you the following information in reports, if your device can access the Internet .

  • A webcam capture of the person who are using your device.
  • A screenshot of the device screen, which tells you what that person are doing with your device.
  • Geolocation (latitude and longitude), along with a Google map.
  • Public IP, private IP, gateway IP.

The above info is very useful when requesting the police and ISP to help. To increase the chance of getting connected to the Internet, you can configure Wi-Fi auto connect, which makes your laptop connect to an open Wi-Fi hotspot if no Internet access is detected.

You can also perform the following actions when your device is missing.

  • make your computer create a loud sound for 30 seconds if you think your device is nearby.
  • display a message on the screen
  • lock the computer from being used until a password is entered.

For a stolen Linux laptop, the guest account is very important because it allows the thief to use your computer, access the Internet so that the Prey agent installed on the computer can send information. At the same time your personal data can be protected to some degree.

Overall, Prey is a good laptop tracking and anti-theft solution. It’s open-source and cross-platform. You can install it on your computer, tablet or mobile phone. Very useful for folks who travels with their devices.

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