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The problem that I'm currently encountering is that the authentication server is down. I can start Minecraft and select "play offline". I then attempt to connect to a survival multiplayer server, and I receive the message "Failed to login: user not premium".

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Yes, we know, and Notch is working with Singlehop to solve the SYN Flood problem –  alexanderpas Oct 21 '10 at 2:18

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up vote 7 down vote accepted

It depends on how the server is setup, but usually it is not possible to login when the authentication server on minecraft.net is down.

This is on purpose as most server administrators use this as a accountability method, ensuring the mods on their server are indeed the mods on their server, and enabling banning those that misbehave, even when they have changing IPs. (they would need to re-buy minecraft to connect again, if they're on another IP.)

For those servers that allow unauthenticated logins, you will be a generic "Player".

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For those servers that allow unauthenticated logins, you will be a generic "Player". This is not (no longer?) correct. They are logged in with any name they choose. Else it would be impossible to impersonate anyone and (I've done this) the first "Player" is disconnected when the second "Player" connects. There is however, a certain (outdated?) launcher version that will log you in as player (but still only one person at a time). –  John the Green May 29 '11 at 4:28
    
Outdated? That's the behavior of the Linux launcher in 1.1 –  Broam Feb 24 '12 at 22:13

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