Category Archives: Vista

Using the Microsoft Fingerprint Reader on Windows Vista with Firefox 2.0

Back Story

This past summer at my internship I picked up a Microsoft Fingerprint Reader MS Fingerprint Readeron a whim. I had been reading about efforts to write an open source driver for it, and thought it might interesting to give it a shot. I haven’t actually run Linux on my desktop since then, but I finally got around to opening the fingerprint reader up a couple weeks ago and playing with it on Windows Vista.

While I wouldn’t speak to the total security and accuracy of the device, especially since it sends a photo of your finger to the OS unencrypted over USB, it is rather handy and has a nice nerdiness factor of the glowing reader on my desk as well. 🙂

The one absolute show-stopper, though, was that it didn’t work with Firefox. Game over. All browser wars aside, at the end of the day I use Firefox for most of my web browsing, and if the fingerprint reader didn’t work with it, it wasn’t of much use to me beyond logging in to Windows Vista automatically.

FingerFox 2.0 logoEnter Fingerfox (SE) v2, released just this weekend with compatibility for Windows Vista and Digital Persona Password Manager 2.0 (the software included with the fingerprint reader). I had been waiting & hoping for this plugin for weeks, as the previous versions of Fingerfox didn’t work at all for me. I’m happy to say that today everything works!

How to Set it Up

  1. Buy a Microsoft Fingerprint Reader (or other compatible Digital Persona device)
  2. Install the device as indicated in the instructions, or by downloading the newest driver from Microsoft. This process will walk you through registering your fingerprints.
  3. Install Firefox!
  4. Install the Fingerfox (SE) v2 plugin by downloading it, and then opening the XPI file (In Firefox, go to File->”Open File…” and locate the XPI file you just downloaded.)
  5. Restart Firefox to complete the installation, if you haven’t.
  6. Right-click on the new Fingerfox icon in your status bar: FingerFox 2.0 statusbar icon
  7. Enable “Global automatic popup”, to allow Fingerfox to open automatically on websites that you can log in to:FingerFox 2.0 context menu
  8. Go to a website where you want to login. Example:
  9. Fingerfox will pop up a small window containing the same input boxes as the login page. Do not fill them in. These are here because the Digital Persona software, which cannot detect the login page under Firefox, can detect this mini login window.
  10. Now, put your fingerprint on the reader to open the Digital Persona password manager creation screen, and fill out the form with your account information, as in this example. Notice how Digital Persona highlights the corresponding fields in the Fingerfox (SE) window. This is showing you which boxes you are filling out, just in case there is any question:
  11. Click OK to close the password manager creation window, and the Fingerfox popup will change like this, since Digital Persona now knows how to fill this window out for you:
  12. Now, press your finger on the reader to login, and you should be at your Facebook homepage!
    FingerFox 2.0 Success!
  13. That’s it! To login to Facebook in the future, just go to the page, and repeat from step 12!
  14. Some extra things to be aware of:
    • For some websites (like Facebook) you will need to set up more than one login. This is because when you go to, you are logging in to a different site (as far as Fingerfox is concerned) than when Facebook asks you to log in to, e.g., Since these appear to be different sites, you will have to store your login information twice. After that, however, it will be all set.
    • For some websites like Meebo, which have multiple login forms, you will need to select the appropriate one from a small drop-down box:
      FingerFox 2.0 Multiple Login Forms

Desktop Revitalization: Episode 1 "Impressed"

Well, over the past month my frustration with my former desktop PC setup was building to a breaking point. I last installed Windows XP SP2 in approximately July 2006. Early on, I messed around with a bunch of drivers for reading Ext2 partitions and for getting my Netgear WG311v3 wifi PCI card working. Ultimately I found something that was “good enough,” but had a couple nasty bugs like: When you turn the PC on, it loads XP up to the point of displaying my wallpaper, and then freezes for about 30 seconds. If you pressed [Enter] on the keyboard, it immediately resumed loading and everything was happy. If you did not (for example, if you instead walked away), then Windows felt attention-deprived, and there was about a 50% chance the machine would hang completely requiring a hard reboot.

Annoying, to say the least.

So, after putting up with that for over a semester, my frustration finally built to the point that I spent the last week copying off all of my data, and last night wiped my drives clean. I also spent some time rolling a custom XP install CD using the amazing nLite utility, which allows you to slipstream hotfixes, PnP drivers, and text-mode drivers, so no more “F6 to install a third-party driver” from floppy disk (who even has those? I mean, besides nerds like me?), and no more “Windows Update found 68 critical updates for your computer.” Very nice.

So, I set up about 35 gigs for Windows XP, popped in the nLite disk, and went to bed. Oh, did I mention that it also fills in all those language/localization settings, network options, display resolutions, default passwords, etc, automatically? When I woke up, my fresh, clean Windows XP desktop was sitting there waiting for me. No more “Oh, just one quick question” in the middle of a 30+ minute installation. Also nice.

The main event, though, was Vista. I haven’t run Vista on this machine since Beta 2 testing for a Microsoft Install Fest this past summer, which I ultimately abandoned in favor of XP due to lack of drivers. So today, I gave Vista another go, using the Ultimate edition. Installation went without a hitch:

Now I’m starting to dig into Vista, and get some software, like Office 2007, up and running. One really cool feature that I didn’t understand the point of when I saw the beta, but kindof surprised me this time around: The Network Map that Vista displays in the Network and Internet Control Panel. For kicks, I set up my PCI wifi card (which Vista already had drivers for, btw), and then was digging around to try and figure out if Vista was using the wireless network or the wired to reach the internet. Here’s what I found:

Isn’t that sweet? I don’t have any idea how it identifies the presence of the switch in there, but that is exactly my setup: DHCP served by the router, cross-overed into a gigabit wired switch as the backbone for all wired communication (e.g., between Myth box and my desktop).

I guess most people probably wouldn’t see that as cool, but man, that was neat. How does it work?? I don’t think switches decrement TTL, do they? Hopefully by the end of CS640 I’ll know!