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Howdy provides Windows Hello™ style authentication for Linux. Use your built-in IR emitters and camera in combination with facial recognition to prove who you are.

Using the central authentication system (PAM), this works everywhere you would otherwise need your password: Login, lock screen, sudo, su, etc.


Howdy is currently available and packaged for Debian/Ubuntu, Arch Linux, Fedora and openSUSE. If youre interested in packaging Howdy for your distro, dont hesitate to open an issue.

Note: The build of dlib can hang on 100% for over a minute, give it time.

Ubuntu or Linux Mint

Run the installer by pasting (ctrl+shift+V) the following commands into the terminal one at a time:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:boltgolt/howdy
sudo apt update
sudo apt install howdy

This will guide you through the installation.


Download the .deb file from the Releases page and install with gdebi.

Arch Linux

Maintainer wanted.

Install the howdy package from the AUR. For AUR installation instructions, take a look at this wiki page.

You will need to do some additional configuration steps. Please read the ArchWiki entry for more information.


Maintainer: @luyatshimbalanga

The howdy package is available as a Fedora COPR repository, install it by simply executing the following commands in a terminal:

sudo dnf copr enable principis/howdy
sudo dnf --refresh install howdy

See the link to the COPR repository for detailed configuration steps.


Maintainer: @dmafanasyev

Go to the openSUSE wiki page for detailed installation instructions.

Building from source

If you want to build Howdy from source, a few dependencies are required.


  • Python 3.6 or higher
    • pip
    • setuptools
    • wheel
  • meson version 0.64 or higher
  • ninja
  • INIReader (can be pulled from git automatically if not found)
  • libevdev

To install them on Debian/Ubuntu for example:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y \
python3 python3-pip python3-setuptools python3-wheel \
cmake make build-essential \
libpam0g-dev libinih-dev libevdev-dev \
python3-dev libopencv-dev


meson setup build
meson compile -C build

You can also install Howdy to your system with meson install -C build.


After installation, Howdy needs to learn what you look like so it can recognise you later. Run sudo howdy add to add a face model.

If nothing went wrong we should be able to run sudo by just showing your face. Open a new terminal and run sudo -i to see it in action. Please check this wiki page if you're experiencing problems or search for similar issues.

If you're curious you can run sudo howdy config to open the central config file and see the options Howdy has to offer. On most systems this will open the nano editor, where you have to press ctrl+x to save your changes.


The installer adds a howdy command to manage face models for the current user. Use howdy --help or man howdy to list the available options.


howdy [-U user] [-y] command [argument]
Command Description
add Add a new face model for a user
clear Remove all face models for a user
config Open the config file in your default editor
disable Disable or enable howdy
list List all saved face models for a user
remove Remove a specific model for a user
snapshot Take a snapshot of your camera input
test Test the camera and recognition methods
version Print the current version number


The easiest ways to contribute to Howdy is by starring the repository and opening GitHub issues for features you'd like to see. If you want to do more, you can also buy me a coffee.

Code contributions are also very welcome. If you want to port Howdy to another distro, feel free to open an issue for that too.


Any Python errors get logged directly into the console and should indicate what went wrong. If authentication still fails but no errors are printed, you could take a look at the last lines in /var/log/auth.log to see if anything has been reported there.

Please first check the wiki on common issues and if you encounter an error that hasn't been reported yet, don't be afraid to open a new issue.

A note on security

This package is in no way as secure as a password and will never be. Although it's harder to fool than normal face recognition, a person who looks similar to you, or a well-printed photo of you could be enough to do it. Howdy is a more quick and convenient way of logging in, not a more secure one.

To minimize the chance of this program being compromised, it's recommended to leave Howdy in /lib/security and to keep it read-only.