Fingerprint Login Ubuntu MATE

Fingerprint login setup is available via a GUI for Gnome, however there is no current GUI for Ubuntu MATE.

The following steps will enable Fingerprint Login and user privilege escalation in Ubuntu MATE, please note that some of this will be dependent on the specific laptop you are using.

First step check your laptop for an available fingerprint reader


If you have one listed then please follow the steps few steps:

sudo apt install fprintd libpam-fprintd

Now you need to enroll your fingerprint:


Follow the prompt and swipe your right index finger across your scanner 5 times until you get the following: Enroll result: enroll-completed

Now you need to enable acess:

sudo pam-auth-update

This will open an ncurses interface. Add an * next to Fingerprint authenication and tab over to OK and exit.

At this point you will be able to use your fingerprint scanner to authenticate to elevated privileges, ie. sudo. It will also allow you to login and unlock your system using the fingerprint reader.

This has been tested on Ubuntu MATE 18.04, 19.10, and the current daily 20.04


Thanks for this tip. I tried it as follows:

[email protected]:~$ lsusb 
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0003 Linux Foundation 3.0 root hub
Bus 001 Device 004: ID 27c6:5584 Generic Goodix FingerPrint Device
Bus 001 Device 003: ID 8087:0a2a Intel Corp. 
Bus 001 Device 002: ID 04f2:b61e Chicony Electronics Co., Ltd Integrated Camera
Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub
[email protected]:~$ sudo apt install fprintd libpam-fprintd
... remove install messages for brevity ...
[email protected]:~$ fprintd-enroll
list_devices failed: No devices available

I assume it's a hardware issue. I'm running a Yoga S730 and think I have seen reports that a driver is not yet forthcoming. Am I right and if so Is there anything I do to support?


Thanks for the report. Sadly it's a bit of a crap-shoot on some of the finger print readers.

I spent a little time looking at it looks like there hasn't been any good news on the Goodix driver :frowning_face:

Unable to add * for the given options. What to do?

1 Like

Hello everyone

From a data-security point of view, fingerprint readers are not all that useful. They may be convenient, when they work, but they do not offer top level security.

Just a thought.

Unrelated, but I am just curious about a system security aspect: Would synchronous MFA ever be a thing for LightDM? i.e. login requiring multiple authentication methods at once?

Can you give us some more specifics? Can you take a screenshot and show was it looks like when you run: sudo pam-auth-update

well sure they are not top level security but that's not needed everywhere.

when you dont have overly sensitive data where an FP would not be enough but are using your laptop in public places and you dont wanna type you password in front of other people FP can be VERY helpful

I have the same problem.

It looks like this. I press enter to activate the selected option, and it returns straight to the command prompt. I run sudo pam-auth-update again, and the selection appears unchanged.

Is there a config file that I can edit manually?

OMG you press the space bar to select or deselect.

It'd be nice if it just said that at the top instead of just assuming everyone would know that.

That's kind of how Ncurses-based interfaces work. Unrelated, but you would have had a hell of a time dealing with Clonezilla (even though they spell out how to interface with the menus).