[nSLUG] Found: Lost laptop

George N. White III gnwiii at gmail.com
Fri Jan 9 12:33:46 AST 2009

On Fri, Jan 9, 2009 at 10:07 AM, D G Teed <donald.teed at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Thu, Jan 8, 2009 at 7:38 PM, Colin Conrad <cmconrad79 at gmail.com> wrote:
>> I work for the taxi company.  It has been there for some time now and no
>> one has called looking for it.  My boss asked if I might be able to find
>> the user.  I thought that where it has Debian 5.0 that the best spot I
>> could post a lost Linux machine was the NSLUG mailing list.   I thought
>> that someone here might either own it or know the person that does.
>> I also plan on taking it to the NSLUG meeting.
>> Cheers,
>> Colin
> I think the NSLUG meeting is a good place to work on this.
> You've done well to know or learn of this user's group.
> I don't think people here should assume you are comfortable
> trying to boot Linux from a CDROM to dig further.
> It is relatively easy, but for someone with no prior Linux experience
> there are a number of steps to engage.  It would
> require you to download CDROM an ISO image, burn
> (as ISO, not as data as many people do the first time),
> boot from the CDROM, use the Unix command line
> tools (or X Windows apps) to look in several places for clues.
> It is something which is much easier for people who work withthis
> all the time and already have Linux boot CDROMs on hand.
> It is a great "community" project demonstrating the extent of
> good will in our group.

Hacking a laptop is probably breaking laws, no matter how
well-intentioned.   It might (or might NOT!) be OK for an employee
of a taxi company to conduct a minimally intrusive search for
information needed to return lost property (like opening luggage
to look for such information), because that level of intrusion is
expected from a transportation service.  There is a contract between
the taxi company and the rider, but that would not extend to
3rd parties unless employed by the taxi company.  Given that,
it might (or NOT!) be legal give the Colin a linux boot CD and show
him how to use it on a neutral laptop, then let him do the work
in a secure location.  It is worth noting that the same technique
would apply for a laptop running Windows.

I'm sure "stupidity" (enhanced by jet lag and sleep deprivation
for travellers) is the most common reason for a laptop to be
left in a taxi, but you have to wonder what steps the real owner
has taken to recover the lost laptop.   One reason to just ignore
a laptop left in a cab is that the person who left it was not the owner
(maybe the thief was dismayed to discover they has stolen a PII
running linux and ditched it in a taxi out of the hope it would make
it back to the owner).

Colin did you check any of the registries for  stolen laptops?  The
police may be able to do a search.

How many people put a "property of ..." sticker with contact
details on the laptops they use?

George N. White III <aa056 at chebucto.ns.ca>
Head of St. Margarets Bay, Nova Scotia

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