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    SubjectRe: CONFIG_RANDOM option for 1.99.2
       Date: Wed, 15 May 1996 18:01:45 -0600 (CST)
    From: Aaron Ucko <UCKO@VAX1.ROCKHURST.EDU>

    >What if someone's running in very tight memory (2-4 MB) and for one
    >reason or another doesn't care about crackers (isn't on the net, or
    >just doesn't care about security)? The only feasible thing that the
    >kernel needs good random numbers for is security, and people should
    >have the option to turn that off if the memory and CPU cycles are too

    Yes, but nonsecurity-related userspace programs might also want good random
    numbers. Consider a simulation using the Monte Carlo method--pseudorandom
    numbers might produce misleading results.

    Someone who's running Monte Carlo simulations hopefully has a fair bit
    of memory available, and knows enough about random number generators
    to realize the importance of a good one. For that matter, the problem
    with random numbers for Monte Carlo methods is rarely the quality of
    the seed, but rather the quality of the generator (the f(x+1) term).
    If the generator has poor spectral properties, it doesn't matter how
    good the initial seed was.

    /dev/random generates an excellent initial random number, and perhaps
    a small number more such numbers. It's not designed for generating
    the millions of random numbers that a simulation may need. It is
    designed for generating a small number of random numbers to serve as
    cryptographic keys.

    Robert Krawitz <>

    Member of the League for Programming Freedom -- mail
    Tall Clubs International -- or 1-800-521-2512

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