The Activities side-bar in Lotus Notes and SPNEGO

Writing down this post to share all the info I collected in my search why the Activities
side-bar wouldn’t work with SPNEGO.

First one step back why would need SPNEGO for the Activities side-bar? Imagine a Lotus
Connections 2.5 env. configured to use AD as the user repository. That AD has a password
policy configured so users will be forced to change their password once every 90 days.
That same AD policy forces an account lock-out when a user enters his password wrong
three times.

When working with the Activities side-bar from Lotus Notes 8.5.1 vanilla the user will
get the following message if his password configured isn’t correct anymore.

This means in the background one failed login attempt to AD.

Pressing the “Retry using existing options” link will give the user the following
eror message.

Plus that the message isn’t really helpful to a normal user, where should this be changed?
it makes this failed login attempt number two.
Trying it one more time will lock-out the account and give the user all sorts of other
problems like not be able to browse the internet ( AD proxy authentication  ) and shared
Windows drives are not accessible anymore etc. etc.

Luckily in Lotus Notes 8.5.2 this behavior has been improved. When your current filled in
password isn’t valid anymore the Activities side-bar will show the user a login prompt.

( This login prompt also exist in LN 8.5.1 but it will only be shown if the User name is empty
or if the User password field is left empty. Once the User password field is filled in with
the incorrect value the login prompt isn’t shown. )

Also note that there is no password filled in this will force the user to put down his
new password. Of course this isn’t the holy grail, does a user know he has to supply his AD
password? Or will he enters his internet password of Lotus Domino?

Having all of this info collected I wanted to know for sure if the Activities side-bar could
work with SPNEGO. I knew up in front that it could turn out to be a mission with not
getting the result I was looking for, see the support statements from IBM.

LC25 ->

– Not currently supported: Integrating SPNEGO or IWA with the
Lotus Connections Activities sidebar and Business Card in the Notes 8.5.1 Client

And it seems that also with the new version of Connections we will not get SPNEGO with
the Activities side-bar. And this then also applies to the new Status Updater plug-in.

LC30 ->

– Not currently supported: Integrating SPNEGO or IWA with the
Lotus Connections Activities sidebar and Business Card in the Notes 8.5.1 Client and Notes 8.5.2 Client.

We also had this discussion in beta forum of LC30. The following statement was dropped by
Dan Harris from IBM.

“…the Connections plug-ins for Notes, including the Status Updates plug-in, all use the
Expeditor platform to provide authentication with Connections. I completely understand
the need to support SPNEGO so that user’s in your environment will never have to enter
their Connections password into Notes or deal with expiration of that password.

Adding SSO using SPNEGO to our Notes plug-ins requires the client platform to
add support for this authentication type to the Expeditor layer. An initiative to
add this capability to Notes has been prioritized by the product team and technical
meetings are underway to move it forward. The exact release vehicle(s) and timing
are still not available yet for me to share with you at this time. However, we are
planning to validate the implementation in the coming months with Design Partner(s)
prior to feature availability and more information will be available soon in the Notes
Design Partner Forum.”

Mailing with IBM support when I dropped a PMR with the question what about the Activities
side-bar and SPNEGO?.

“I had update our next level support regarding the feature request. It seem that the feature
might be available on the Notes 8.5.3.”

All the information isn’t really clear if it could work, the support statement just says
not supported. Also the fact that some Lotus Connections functionality in Lotus Notes
works fine with SPNEGO like the Connections search functionality.

See the following post for the test-setup I put up and what kind of debugging
I did to check out the combination Activities side-bar and SPNEGO.

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