Legacy documentation


This NSS documentation was just imported from our legacy MDN repository. It currently is very deprecated and likely incorrect or broken in many places.

Legacy Documentation

Network Security Services (NSS) is a set of libraries designed to support cross-platform development of security-enabled client and server applications. Applications built with NSS can support SSL v3, TLS, PKCS #5, PKCS #7, PKCS #11, PKCS #12, S/MIME, X.509 v3 certificates, and other security standards.

For detailed information on standards supported, see Overview of NSS. For a list of frequently asked questions, see the NSS FAQ.

NSS is available under the Mozilla Public License. For information on downloading NSS releases as tar files, see NSS sources building testing.

If you’re a developer and would like to contribute to NSS, you might want to read the documents An overview of NSS Internals and mozilla_projects_nss_getting_started_with_nss.

Background Information

Overview of NSS

Provides a brief summary of NSS and its capabilities.


Answers basic questions about NSS.

Introduction to Public-Key Cryptography

Explains the basic concepts of public-key cryptography that underlie NSS.

Introduction to SSL

Introduces the SSL protocol, including information about cryptographic ciphers supported by SSL and the steps involved in the SSL handshake.

Getting Started

Release notes for recent versions of NSS

This page contains information about the current and past releases of NSS.

NSS sources building testing

Instructions on how to build NSS on the different supported platforms.

Get Mozilla Source Code Using Mercurial

Information about with working with Mercurial.

Get Mozilla Source Code Using CVS (deprecated)

Old deprecated CVS documentation.


Introduction to Network Security Services

Provides an overview of the NSS libraries and what you need to know to use them.

SSL functions

Summarizes the SSL APIs exported by the NSS shared libraries.

NSS reference

API used to invoke SSL operations.

NSS API Guidelines

Explains how the libraries and code are organized, and guidelines for developing code (naming conventions, error handling, thread safety, etc.)

NSS Tech Notes

Links to NSS technical notes, which provide latest information about new NSS features and supplementary documentation for advanced topics in programming with NSS.

Tools, testing, and other technical details

Building NSS

Describe how to check out and build NSS releases.

NSS Developer Tutorial

How to make changes in NSS. Coding style, maintaining ABI compatibility.

NSS Tools

Tools for developing, debugging, and managing applications that use NSS.

NSS Sample Code

Demonstrates how NSS can be used for cryptographic operations, certificate handling, SSL, etc.

NSS Third-Party Code

A list of third-party code included in the NSS library.

NSS 3.2 Test Suite

Archived version. Describes how to run the standard NSS tests.

NSS Performance Reports

Archived version. Links to performance reports for NSS 3.2 and later releases.

Encryption Technologies Available in NSS 3.11

Archived version. Lists the cryptographic algorithms used by NSS 3.11.

NSS 3.1 Loadable Root Certificates

Archived version. Describes the scheme for loading root CA certificates.


Archived version. General format of the cert7.db database.

PKCS #11 information

CA certificates pre-loaded into NSS

NSS is built on top of Netscape Portable Runtime (NSPR)

Netscape Portable Runtime

NSPR project page.

NSPR Reference

NSPR API documentation.

Additional Information


Information on NSS planning can be found at wiki.mozilla.org, including: