Zack's Kernel News

Zack's Kernel News

Article from Issue 246/2021

This month in Kernel News: Opening a Random Can of Worms and Out with the Old.

Opening a Random Can of Worms

Torsten Duwe was mad as hell, and he wasn't going to take it anymore! Or at least, he had certain objections to /dev/random, which he felt should be addressed. In particular, one of the main points of random numbers in the Linux kernel is to support system security. Torsten pointed out that "Input entropy amounts are guesstimated in advance, obviously much too conservatively, compiled in and never checked thereafter; the whitening is done using some home-grown hash function derivative and other non-cryptographic, non-standard operations."

He also remarked with restraint and decorum, that "meanwhile there's quite a maintenance backlog; minor fixes are pending, medium-sized cleanups are ignored and major patch sets to add the missing features are not even discussed."

Torsten said he was in favor of bringing the Linux kernel up to some sort of standards compliance with regards to random numbers, preferably obtaining official certification from one of the organizations that did that sort of thing. But he said he'd settle for /dev/random simply being a reliable source of entropy, even without any certification.


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