A few months ago I wrote how you can prevent laptop theft, track and recover stolen laptops with four different tools and services. Here is another addition to it - Adeona, the first open source laptop tracking software. A small software client is installed in your laptop which continually monitors the current location of the laptop, gathering information such as IP addresses and local network topology, that can be used to identify its current location. This information is then encrypted and sent to the Open Source OpenDHT distributed storage service. Only the laptop owner can retrieve these information from the storage. If your laptop gets stolen, Adeona will continue to transmit location information of the laptop unknown to the thief which will hopefully enable you to zero in on him or her.
The Mac version of Adeona can also capture picture of the laptop user or thief through the built in webcam like this.
Wanted: Dead or Alive!
Interestingly, each of these tracking tools that I reviewed earlier functions differently.
LocatePC, a freeware, sends you a secret email message from your laptop containing vital information about the laptop location, while Adeona sends information to a central server that is accessible only to you. Both these tools stresses on privacy since nobody but the laptop owner can know about the laptop's location. Laptop Alarm, another freeware, emits an alarm when somebody shutdowns the laptop or disconnects the AC and tries to take it giving you a few seconds to grab the thief and prevent the theft, provided that you are around. The alarm could also startle the thief and he might even abandon it in fright. If the thief manages to carry it away in spite of it, Laptop Alarm will send SMS to you providing information of the laptop location at a price.
Then there are professional services like LoJack and nTrack that will work with the police to track and recover your laptop for you at a reasonable price but by sacrificing your privacy. With free tools like Adeona and LocatePC you will have all the necessary information which you just have to take it to the police. The only thing that needs to be worried is whether the police will work hard enough to nab the thief.