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Howdy - Windows Hello for Linux

Howdy is a neat project that allows you to use any webcam (IR or otherwise) to authenticate with Linux using facial recognition, like Windows hello.

Like I said any web cam will do, but if you have a web cam that specifically calls out windows hello that would work better as it will be an IR camera, which will allow you to use it in low to no light conditions and not just when well lit.


first head over to here and pick your preferred install method, I'm on arch so for me its a simple yay -S howdy. Follow the install instructions for your specific distro.

Next we can find some good documentation on it here. But I'll cover most of it below, just be sure to note where to find this


First you'll want to make sure you have the correct webcam selected in the howdy config, usually its /dev/video1 if you have both an IR camera, and a regular. /dev/video0 if you only have one.

  1. Open the howdy config file with sudo howdy config
  2. find the line device_path =
  3. set device_path = to /dev/videoX depending on which camera you want to use
  4. save and close the config file
  5. test the camera with sudo howdy test make sure you can see your self, and the IR lights come on if you're using an IR camera. If neither work try a different number for X on the config line above.

Next you'll need to add a model for your face, do this with sudo howdy add and follow the onscreen prompts. I recommend you do a few models, like one with your computer on a desk you use commonly, one from your lap, etc etc, just realize that the more models you add the slower authentication will be. So be sure to add them for common use cases but don't go hog wild on it.

Next you'll need to get pam set up so that our system knows to try facial recognition before falling back on a password for authentication.

  1. Edit the system-auth pam file with sudo nano /etc/pam.d/system-auth
  2. in the first section above the auth required try_first_pass nullok add the following line: auth sufficient /lib/security/howdy/
  3. open a new terminal and test it by executing something as sudo.


That's basically how it's done, much easier that the U2F thing I posted about before, and honestly I think it works great!

wiki/howdyfacialrecognition.txt · Last modified: 2020/07/08 10:13 by pyro