This software helps you add a little more security to your desktop. It does so by detecting one of your bluetooth devices, most likely your mobile phone, and keeping track of its distance. If you move away from your computer and the distance is above a certain level (no measurement in meters is possible) for a given time, it automatically locks your desktop (or starts any other shell command you want).
Once away your computer awaits its master back – if you are nearer than a given level for a set time your computer unlocks magically without any interaction (or starts any other shell command you want).
BlueProximity is availible in the Ubuntu repositories, and is very easy to install and set up:
sudo aptitude install blueproximity
Before you run BlueProximity for the first time, make sure your Bluetooth is set up on your computer, and you have paired your cellphone with your desktop. You can find general Bluetooth options under System > Preferences > Bluetooth.
When you’re ready to run BlueProximity, you can find it under Applications > Accessories > BlueProximity. BlueProximity runs in the background, and displays a small icon in the taskbar to show its status. Click on the icon to configure its settings.
In the “Bluetooth Device” tab, you can choose the cellphone or device to pair with and monitor.
- If you don’t see your cellphone in the list, press “Scan for Devices”. Make sure your cellphone’s bluetooth is on and discoverable.
- When your device shows up, you can click on it and press “Use Selected Device”.
- You can also select the “RFCOMM Channel”, although the default channel, 7, worked for me. If you have trouble, you may try “Scan channels on device”.
In the next tab, “Proximity Details”, you set the distance and times to lock and unlock your computer.
- The distance is a numeric value between 0-255 which is a rough range of how far your cellphone is from your computer. It doesn’t correspond to any specific unit of measure, so you’ll need to test it out to get a feeling for it.
- At the bottom of the tab, “Measured atm” displays the current distance, as well as the minimum and maximum distances that have been detected. You can use this as a guide.
- The duration corresponds to the number of seconds your cellphone needs to be outside of the distance before your computer will lock. You may need to use some trial and error to find the right value.
- The “Unlocking” options operate just like the “Locking” options, but opposite. When your phone is detected within the specified distance for the complete duration, your computer will unlock.
The final preferences tab, “Locking”, controls how BlueProximity will lock and unlock your computer. It has options for the exact commands which will be invoked, as well as logging options. Basically, BlueProximity will call gnome-screensaver-command to control the screensaver– turning it on and off appropriately. For this to work though, you will also need to set up a screensaver.
To check your screensaver settings, go to System > Preferences > Screensaver.
- In the left pane, choose a screensaver to use. I prefer ElectricSheep.
- The option “Activate screensaver when computer is idle” doesn’t apply to BlueProximity, and BlueProximity will work even without it checked. This refers to whether you want your screensaver to also turn on after a given period.
- Similarly, the option “Lock screen when screensaver is active” refers to the normal screensaver timeout, and won’t affect BlueProximity.
Once you’ve got BlueProximity and your screensaver configured, everything should be ready to go! Simply walk away from your computer and watch it automatically fade into your screensaver. Walk back, and the desktop should automatically wake up.
It’s a pretty fun toy, although not the most useful. However, for those like myself who tend to walk away from the computer without locking it, you can feel a little better when you have your cellphone in your pocket.
You could also configure what commands to run other then the defaults via the “Locking” tab. Enjoy!