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Firefox Hacks by Nigel McFarlane

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Hack #14. Work with Single Sign-On Servers

If your web content is hidden behind a security regime, here's how to get through.

This hack explains how to stop Firefox from prompting the user for already supplied login details. In other words, Firefox can be part of a single sign-on environment, where several servers, applications, and/or services share login details. Firefox understands several kinds of server requests for user credentials.

Single sign-on servers are usually found in an Intranet environment. They provide a method of controlling who can access remote servers and the services that they provide, and they can reduce user frustration. Such arrangements are not the same as Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Although SSL and Secure HTTP swap credentials with SSL-enabled servers, those kinds of credentials (digital certificates and digital signatures) are mostly organization-based, not user-based.

The good news is that single sign-on is a no-brainer in Firefox for the simple case. The simple case isn't that much fun, though, so let's explore the subject a bit before we come back to it. Note that special server-oriented configuration files [Hack #29] can also be set up to perform server login actions. In that case, the server is an LDAP server.

The Single Sign-On Technology Jungle

In conceptual terms, single sign-on is a constraint enforced by servers. The server demands special information from the client (for example, a web browser) and refuses to process any request until that information ...

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