GETRANDOM(2) Linux Programmer's Manual GETRANDOM(2)
getrandom - obtain a series of random bytes
ssize_t getrandom(void *buf, size_t buflen, unsigned int flags);
The getrandom() system call fills the buffer pointed to by buf with up
to buflen random bytes. These bytes can be used to seed user-space
random number generators or for cryptographic purposes.
By default, getrandom() draws entropy from the urandom source (i.e.,
the same source as the /dev/urandom device). This behavior can be
changed via the flags argument.
If the urandom source has been initialized, reads of up to 256 bytes
will always return as many bytes as requested and will not be inter-
rupted by signals. No such guarantees apply for larger buffer sizes.
For example, if the call is interrupted by a signal handler, it may
return a partially filled buffer, or fail with the error EINTR.
If the urandom source has not yet been initialized, then getrandom()
will block, unless GRND_NONBLOCK is specified in flags.
The flags argument is a bit mask that can contain zero or more of the
following values ORed together:
If this bit is set, then random bytes are drawn from the random
source (i.e., the same source as the /dev/random device) instead
of the urandom source. The random source is limited based on
the entropy that can be obtained from environmental noise. If
the number of available bytes in the random source is less than
requested in buflen, the call returns just the available random
bytes. If no random bytes are available, the behavior depends
on the presence of GRND_NONBLOCK in the flags argument.
By default, when reading from the random source, getrandom()
blocks if no random bytes are available, and when reading from
the urandom source, it blocks if the entropy pool has not yet
been initialized. If the GRND_NONBLOCK flag is set, then
getrandom() does not block in these cases, but instead immedi-
ately returns -1 with errno set to EAGAIN.
On success, getrandom() returns the number of bytes that were copied to
the buffer buf. This may be less than the number of bytes requested
via buflen if either GRND_RANDOM was specified in flags and insuffi-
cient entropy was present in the random source or the system call was
interrupted by a signal.
On error, -1 is returned, and errno is set appropriately.
EAGAIN The requested entropy was not available, and getrandom() would
have blocked if the GRND_NONBLOCK flag was not set.
EFAULT The address referred to by buf is outside the accessible address
EINTR The call was interrupted by a signal handler; see the descrip-
tion of how interrupted read(2) calls on "slow" devices are han-
dled with and without the SA_RESTART flag in the signal(7) man
EINVAL An invalid flag was specified in flags.
ENOSYS The glibc wrapper function for getrandom() determined that the
underlying kernel does not implement this system call.
getrandom() was introduced in version 3.17 of the Linux kernel. Sup-
port was added to glibc in version 2.25.
This system call is Linux-specific.
For an overview and comparison of the various interfaces that can be
used to obtain randomness, see random(7).
Unlike /dev/random and /dev/urandom, getrandom() does not involve the
use of pathnames or file descriptors. Thus, getrandom() can be useful
in cases where chroot(2) makes /dev pathnames invisible, and where an
application (e.g., a daemon during start-up) closes a file descriptor
for one of these files that was opened by a library.
Maximum number of bytes returned
As of Linux 3.19 the following limits apply:
* When reading from the urandom source, a maximum of 33554431 bytes is
returned by a single call to getrandom() on systems where int has a
size of 32 bits.
* When reading from the random source, a maximum of 512 bytes is
Interruption by a signal handler
When reading from the urandom source (GRND_RANDOM is not set), getran-
dom() will block until the entropy pool has been initialized (unless
the GRND_NONBLOCK flag was specified). If a request is made to read a
large number of bytes (more than 256), getrandom() will block until
those bytes have been generated and transferred from kernel memory to
buf. When reading from the random source (GRND_RANDOM is set), getran-
dom() will block until some random bytes become available (unless the
GRND_NONBLOCK flag was specified).
The behavior when a call to getrandom() that is blocked while reading
from the urandom source is interrupted by a signal handler depends on
the initialization state of the entropy buffer and on the request size,
buflen. If the entropy is not yet initialized, then the call fails
with the EINTR error. If the entropy pool has been initialized and the
request size is large (buflen > 256), the call either succeeds, return-
ing a partially filled buffer, or fails with the error EINTR. If the
entropy pool has been initialized and the request size is small
(buflen <= 256), then getrandom() will not fail with EINTR. Instead,
it will return all of the bytes that have been requested.
When reading from the random source, blocking requests of any size can
be interrupted by a signal handler (the call fails with the error
Using getrandom() to read small buffers (<= 256 bytes) from the urandom
source is the preferred mode of usage.
The special treatment of small values of buflen was designed for com-
patibility with OpenBSD's getentropy(3), which is nowadays supported by
The user of getrandom() must always check the return value, to deter-
mine whether either an error occurred or fewer bytes than requested
were returned. In the case where GRND_RANDOM is not specified and
buflen is less than or equal to 256, a return of fewer bytes than
requested should never happen, but the careful programmer will check
for this anyway!
As of Linux 3.19, the following bug exists:
* Depending on CPU load, getrandom() does not react to interrupts
before reading all bytes requested.
getentropy(3), random(4), urandom(4), random(7), signal(7)
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