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RANDOM(4)              FreeBSD Kernel Interfaces Manual              RANDOM(4)

NAME
     random - the entropy device

DESCRIPTION
     The random device accepts and reads data as any ordinary (and willing)
     file, but throws away any data written to it, and returns an endless
     supply of random bytes when read.

     The only purpose of writing data to random is to perturb the internal
     state.  This perturbation of the internal state is the only userland
     method of introducing extra entropy into the device.  If the writer has
     superuser privilege, then closing the device after writing will make the
     internal generator reseed itself.  This can be used for extra security,
     as it immediately introduces any/all new entropy into the PRNG.  The
     random device can be controlled with sysctl(8).

     To see the devices' current settings, use the command line:

           sysctl kern.random

     which results in something like:

           kern.random.sys.seeded: 1
           kern.random.sys.burst: 20
           kern.random.sys.harvest.ethernet: 0
           kern.random.sys.harvest.point_to_point: 0
           kern.random.sys.harvest.interrupt: 0
           kern.random.yarrow.gengateinterval: 10
           kern.random.yarrow.bins: 10
           kern.random.yarrow.fastthresh: 100
           kern.random.yarrow.slowthresh: 160
           kern.random.yarrow.slowoverthresh: 2

     All settings are read/write.

     The kern.random.sys.seeded variable indicates whether or not the random
     device is in an acceptably secure state as a result of reseeding.  If set
     to 0, the device will block (on read) until the next reseed (which can be
     from an explicit write, or as a result of entropy harvesting).  A reseed
     will set the value to 1 (non-blocking).

     The kern.random.sys.burst variable instructs the kernel thread that
     processes the harvest queue to tsleep(9) briefly after that many events
     have been processed.  This helps prevent the random device from being so
     compute-bound that it takes over all processing ability.  A value of zero
     (0) is treated as infinity, and will only allow the kernel to pause if
     the queue is empty.  Only values in the range [0..20] are accepted.

     The kern.random.sys.harvest.ethernet variable is used to select LAN
     traffic as an entropy source.  A zero (0) value means that LAN traffic is
     not considered as an entropy source.  Set the variable to one (1) if you
     wish to use LAN traffic for entropy harvesting.

     The kern.random.sys.harvest.point_to_point variable is used to select
     serial line traffic as an entropy source.  (Serial line traffic includes
     PPP, SLIP and all tun0 traffic.)  A zero (0) value means such traffic is
     not considered as an entropy source.  Set the variable to one (1) if you
     wish to use it for entropy harvesting.

     The kern.random.sys.harvest.interrupt variable is used to select hardware
     interrupts as an entropy source.  A zero (0) value means interrupts are
     not considered as an entropy source.  Set the variable to one (1) if you
     wish to use them for entropy harvesting.  All interrupt harvesting is
     setup by the individual device drivers.

     The other variables are explained in the paper describing the Yarrow
     algorithm at http://www.counterpane.com/yarrow.html.

     These variables are all limited in terms of the values they may contain:
           kern.random.yarrow.gengateinterval  [4..64]
           kern.random.yarrow.bins             [2..16]
           kern.random.yarrow.fastthresh       [64..256]
           kern.random.yarrow.slowthresh       [64..256]
           kern.random.yarrow.slowoverthresh   [1..5]

     Internal sysctl(3) handlers force the above variables into the stated
     ranges.

FILES
     /dev/random

SEE ALSO
     sysctl(8)

HISTORY
     A random device appeared in FreeBSD 2.2.  The early version was taken
     from Theodore Ts'o's entropy driver for Linux.  The current
     implementation, introduced in FreeBSD 5.0, is a complete rewrite by Mark
     R V Murray, and is an implementation of the Yarrow algorithm by Bruce
     Schneier, et al.

FreeBSD 11.0-PRERELEASE        February 10, 2001       FreeBSD 11.0-PRERELEASE

NAME | DESCRIPTION | FILES | SEE ALSO | HISTORY

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