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Re: Stolen laptop - how to increase security?

> On my Thinkpad I have a sticker that clearly says "Does Not Run Windows".
My (main) laptop has a debian 1" x 1" square tab next to the Ricoh OEM logo, 
and another 1" "tux the penguin" OEM tab elsewhere on the machine.  It doesn't
-say- that it doesn't run windows... but it doesn't, that's true, and I don't
even have a wm layout that looks like MSwin, nor default to X.  (on a P-233?
really, not.  Even an MMX.  waste of time, when most of what I do on there
is take notes or tweak web pages in vi.)

The idea of explicitly *stating* that it doesn't run windows is interesting,

(there. now it's about debian laptops ;P )

> Some years ago I was at a users' group meeting and a woman described how her 
> house was burgled.  She lost her TV ($300), her VCR ($400), and her new 
> computer ($3000) was turned on and sitting at the LILO prompt.  Apparently 
> when the machine didn't boot Windows the thieves decided it wasn't worth 
> taking!

This is at least an argument for having your bootloader stop at the bootloader
prompt, rather than mosey onwards into a colorful XDM login.
> I believe that thieves lack the skill to install Windows on a Thinkpad 
> (installing software on a laptop is a bitch even if you know what you are 
> doing).  Therefore a laptop that doesn't run windows can't be sold.

Gosh, if that's all it takes, a CMOS password ought to be enough - can't
tell if it runs windows or not! ;D

Seriously - I have a windows box around (for testing samba) and with
BootGUI=0 it stays at DOS until I tell it to go onward.  I never thought
of this as anything towards thieves, I just like to sometimes check file
states before and after a test, and that's the easy way to know MSwin hasn't
mucked around yet.

I think it's much more important to have your identity carved into the box, 
and a well manicured business card firmly strapped to it, so it's easy to 
return, but will look beaten and abused if these are removed.  Anything else 
you can do to customize the software (that you would ordinarily anyway) may 
help, as it may help make it clear that it would take some sort of Magic to 
de-personalize the thing for sale, to a sufficiently non-techie thief.  To
further make the example, I customized the windows startup screen (which you
do get if you type win) so it has an image I raster-painted, and mentions my 

Worth noting: On this box, (also a thinkpad) there is a utility for burning 
your bizcard data into the BIOS boot screen.  Since you mention that yours 
is a thinkpad, you should look into using that.  Even if you have to boot
into a DOS disk to use the silly thing.

Has anyone gotten back their lost machine in such a way that indicates any
of their precautions led thieves to not try to fence it?  *Those* are what
we need to know ... the stuff that works!

* Heather Stern * star@ many places...

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