Adventures in Cardspace

Industry guru Craig Burton's Cardspace is working now (thank goodness).

The bad news is that he's had a pretty miserable time getting it going.  Mainly, it seems in retrospect, because his computer was set up with a FAT32 file system.  If you have this configuration, no error message is displayed to you as a user – you have to read through a cryptic note in the system-wide error log.  This has to be fixed.

The good news is that once he got Cardspace working, Craig really liked it.  That's really important to me:

I have been trying to get CardSpace to work on my machine for several weeks. (Seems much longer.)

I have downloaded tons of upgrades, deleted apps and services, and so on.

Pamela Dingle and Kim Cameron have been very helpful in trying to help me make things work.

Pamela studied the error log –created by the CardSpace control panel–I posted and suggested that the problem was that my c: drive was using the FAT32 file system. She explained that her resources tell her that CardSpace only supports NTFS.

Turns out this is true. Kim subsequently fessed up that FAT32 isn't secure enough so they decided to set the bar at NTFS. They just didn't bother to tell anybody. (Good thinking.)

I decided–against my better judgement–to convert my FAT32 file system to NTFS. I haven't done that until now because I haven't been successful in creating an NTFS compatible boot CD. If something happens to my system, I'm in trouble. I am working on resolving this. (There is a DOS-based utility that will access NTFS for recovering critical data. I don't like that prospect.)

Anyway, to convert from FAT32 to NTFS you do the following. Open a command line window:


Run the convert utility:

convert c: /fs:ntfs

Reboot, and the convert utility–assuming you have enough empty storage–will convert FAT32 to NTFS with no loss of data.

I tried it. It worked. Whew! Getting this far has been no simple task.

I was then able to create an Infocard with the CardSpace control panel and login  to the Idendity web log and to the NetFX Sandbox.

I also tried the Ping site . It was slow–not sure why–but it worked. A page came up with four other sites that support Ping Federation that I can sign into with my Infocard. The sites aren't all the useful to me, Java, Verisign, Computer Associates, and another one I can't remember. That was cool.

The Ping site–unlike the other two sites–gave me three options for signin:
Traditional (yuch) name and password, self issued Infocard or Managed Infocard. Not sure why ping distingshes between self-issued and managed Infocards as the Infocard selector lets you do that, but I will find out.


If you convert to NTFS, you cannot go back to FAT32 without repartioning and formatting your disk.

I love being able to register and login to a website with an Infocard…SWEET!

I hate how complicated it is and that it only works with BETA code. Infocard simplicity comes at a complicated uphill price. At least it isn't Msft-silo-centric. Apple, Mozilla, RedHat and others have commited to support Infocards.

Things will have to get significantly easier–and supported by other browsers and OSs–before we see any kind of adoption.

Despite all of that. Not having to use name-password mechanisms for secure interaction is very significant to the industry and people. This has been a long time coming and I can't emphasize its importance enough.Thanks to all that have made it happen. 

Many thanks to Pamela, who has become a Cardspace savante, for figuring this out – I've been in Australia and couldn't keep up with the troubleshooting.

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.