easy1 wrote:That would be more than fine with me! I want something to make it much more difficult for the thief to access the data.
I'd put a PIN code or a password into the BIOS so that the machine's system setup cannot be accessed without having to type it in every time; same of course for the system boot: protect it with a password. Then replace the ordinary screws with high-security screws as far as this is possible. I don't know where you are based, but here is e.g. a NY based company that sells such screws: http://www.tamperproof.com/
Search for "security screw" or "tamperproof screws" in Google, it will give you many hits. Not all of these companies will sell these screws to individuals, but e.g. I got mine by having them shipped to my workplace (they thought I was ordering this stuff on behalf of my employer ... ) so I guess you can apply similar tricks. Or if you know any nice folks at any computer store they can probably order this stuff for you, e.g. by claiming they have to make a laptop tamper-proof because their customer is a member of a foreign embassy .... be creative.
If your BS is credible enough you will have such screws in no time.
Having such screws on your laptop renders it useless for the thief. Absolutely useless. He cannot remove the disks, he cannot boot the machine, he cannot remove any parts. For a thief it's a dead brick.
Make sure you put on a sticker on the laptop saying something like that the laptop is tamper-proof and not worth stealing, put your phone number and your address and that anyone returning the laptop to you will be properly rewarded ... (e.g. 100$ ?)
A somewhat paranoid coworker of mine had his laptop stolen, and the thief, being totally frustrated about having stolen a useless brick, was dumb enough to bring it in "for repairs" (= to have the screws removed!) .... to the very PC shop where we got our screws from
As for encryption ... I'm currently on OpenSUSE 10.2 due to some job related stuff I have to get done and here it's easy to have your partitions encrypted ... I don't know how to do this on Ubuntu and Mint ... so you'd have to google around in the Ubuntu forums, maybe there is a how to or something ....