Linux cited using keyboard interrupts. How many of those happen on
a web server in a rack, in an air conditioned computer room
How many happen when you open up your web browser and select your
internet banking web site from your bookmarks?
To complete the list, Linux uses:
- block-device access
- interrupt occurence
- freedback from pool extraction
- pool extraction timing (doesn't matter)
Even w/o devices such as keyboard and mouse Linux starts
producing "a bit" entropy on an old notebook w/ just one hdd after
about 2200 events (the end-phase of a booting SuSE Linux 9.0 system)
Fortunately the pool is initialized in two stages... not perfect but
sufficient for most systems.
Twisting and stirring the bits should scatter entropy evenly in the
Afterwards hashing the pool contents, feeding back the hash value,
and "folding" the hash value should be enough to stop every useful
Nevertheless I think it's time to retire for Linux' /dev/random
and use new approaches like Ferguson's Fortuna.
What the original article was getting at is that perhaps not all of
the information you think of as random information going into your
PRNG is actually random. If that happens then even though the
output of the PRNG "looks random", it may be predictable.
Unfortunately yes. At least for Linux I am not sure how accurate
the entropy estimation really is. At least during boot it is much too
Tom <tom () electric-sheep org>
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