July 2007

Firefox Cipher Suites

When your browser connects to a web site protected by transport layer security of some kind (usually by accessing an https:// URL) there's a negotiation between the two parties. Each party (browser, server) comes to the negotiation with a list of cipher suites that it is prepared to use, and the result is that one of these suites is chosen for the connection.

Recently I ran into a situation where Firefox 2.0 wasn't connecting to a site which Firefox 1.5 had no problems with. It's pretty hard to figure out which cipher suites Firefox is prepared to use from its documentation, so I decided to determine the answer directly by snooping on the negotiation part of the protocol.

Read on for method and results.

One Day in Europa

one frame from the film

One of the client projects I'm working on in the virtual world of Second Life involves generating different effects at different times of the (virtual) day. Second Life's virtual day runs six times faster than the real world's, and there are other interesting differences (the Sun and Moon move in unison, for example) so I thought it would be useful to make a reference movie to show what things look like over a complete cycle.

Let me therefore present One Day in Europa (57MB QuickTime movie), a time-lapse film of a static view from a parcel of land I own in the Europa sim. This reduces the virtual 24-hour day (4-hour elapsed time) to three minutes plus credits. If 57MB seems a bit much, there is a smaller version (23MB) available.

If you click on the thumbnail, you can see the information panel in more detail. The first line includes the number of seconds past local midnight, followed by that same number expressed in hours, minutes, and seconds; finally, the rightmost value gives you the equivalent time on a 24-hour scale.

My thanks to Nick Rothwell of CASSIEL for permission to use a track from their album Listen/Move.