Prey 0.3.7: Now, locate your computer

Good news everyone. As of today Prey officially supports Wifi geolocation for Mac, Windows and Linux PCs. Check it out.

Did you notice the little birdie at the top left? Hehe.

Now, as good as the geo functionality may sound, it’s not just a new module we’re releasing today. We’re talking about a completely revamped, rewritten, retweaked, restructured, reoptimized version of Prey. Not only did we take care of a lot of bugs and feature requests we’ve received, but we also packed in a whole new set of stuff that makes us really proud of this new release.

Geo… how?

Okay, basically what the new geo module does is — having that your computer has a Wifi card installed — it scans the area for existing Wifi hotspots, and then attempts to obtain a geo fix using Google’s Location API, pretty much the same way Gears and Latitude positions you on a map. This means you don’t actually need to have access to any of those hotspots, your computer just needs to detect them. And boom!

To try it just install the new version, log into your Control Panel account and activate the geo module for your device. That’s it! When set to missing, your computer will report its location in addition to everything else.

Forget about updates, for real

Remember Prey previously supported auto-updating of modules? Well, one of the biggest new features is a full-fledged updater for Prey as a whole, including its core, binary files, whatever’s in there. This means that hopefully (in case you want to use that feature) this will be the last version you’ll need to come and grab here, and to install by hand. From now on you can just toggle the Auto Update checkbox on your device page and Prey will take care of the rest.

Important to note is that this option is disabled by default, not only because it’s a new feature but we want you (now and always) to be in control, and not touch anything unless you ask us to.

No more keys to mingle with

Another big update is that from now on, Mac and Windows users won’t need to copy and paste the dreadful API and Device keys from the Control Panel in order to set up Prey. Just enter your login credentials (if you’ve already signed up for a Control Panel account) or your user information (in case you haven’t) and the installer will take care of everything.

Well, here is the complete list of changes (or the most important, at least) for this new release of Prey, version 0.3.7.

All platforms

  • New Geo module for geolocating PCs using wifi hotspots as reference.
  • Double check for network connection, in case the network blocks ICMP (ping) requests.
  • Hidden temp folder for better cloaking when Prey is woken up.
  • A lot of code optimizations, better handling of functions and variables, less filesystem access.
  • Fewer requests for communicating with Control Panel.
  • Split core into smaller chunks; better structure in general.
  • Added hooks for asynchronous job support for modules.
  • Updated email client to version 1.56.
  • Better logging of actions and responses, to make debugging easier.
  • Enhanced security for Control Panel, clients now get a unique one-time URL for posting reports, to avoid eventual device spoofing.
  • Added updater so you don’t need to reinstall the core files for each release (to use you must enable “Auto update” for your device on the Control Panel).
  • Optimized parsing of traces. They are also now handled with URL encoding.
  • Email’s from Standalone mode are better formatted, and they don’t include the previous header message any more.

Mac

  • Using now LaunchDaemon for running Prey, no more Cron. (Good one Diego!)
  • Better installer, no more API or Device keys needed.
  • Installer checks for previous configuration and restores it on installation after verifying the keys.
  • No more “Darwin” references, now straightly “Mac”.

Windows

  • Easy Guest account set up through configurator for password-enabled systems.
  • New configurator, no more API or Device keys needed.
  • Wifi autoconnect finally! A huge thanks to Pablo Poo for this one.
  • Can now set delay easily through Configurator, as well as managing other features.
  • Delay is now handled in the Windows registry.
  • Custom installation path support (you can now install Prey on C:\HarmlessLittleProgram or whatever you like).
  • New routes for platform-specific stuff (cron.exe, prey-config.exe, etc).
  • Better handling of security permissions (ACLs).

Module updates

  • Session: Better uptime output in Windows.
  • Alert: Support for text-to-speech in Linux (requires festival or espeak installed).
  • Alert: Now shouts the message only upon request. Disabled by default.
  • Session: Get current logged in user
  • Network: Get gateway IP as well.
  • Webcam: Better quality of pictures in Windows.

That’s it! We’ve also made small usability enhancements to the Control Panel, such as making the latest reports easier to find, and also better management of system paths for the Session module.

New Terms of Service

You may have noticed that the Signup form now includes a link to a Terms of Service page. This is something we were missing and is really important (and frankly, better for everyone, for you and for us). These Terms cover only the use of the Control Panel as a service, as the Standalone mode doesn’t require you to use the web application.

Now, the Terms as an agreement isn’t done between you and me but rather between you and my company, Fork Ltd., as obviously I cannot risk getting into trouble directly as a person. This also means that now Prey as a project is officially backed up by Fork, which also means that we as a company are now commited to make this thing keep rolling on for good. Hopefully in time we will be able to redirect some resources towards having a better server infrastructure and getting more developers involved, but for now it’s just a technical issue, and we wanted you to be the first to know.

Anything else?

Yes indeed. We want to make it easier for developers to dig in Prey’s code and to push their own modules, so we want to tell you we’re now putting our hands on providing better documentation for hacking Prey and building new modules. We’re also launching (finally) the translation management platform we’ve been working on for a while.

If you have any questions, feedback, as always, let us know. Hope you like this new release, and happy hunting!