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Subject[PATCH] random: add a config option to trust the CPU's hwrng
This gives the user building their own kernel (or a Linux
distribution) the option of deciding whether or not to trust the CPU's
hardware random number generator (e.g., RDRAND for x86 CPU's) as being
correctly implemented and not having a back door introduced (perhaps
courtesy of a Nation State's law enforcement or intelligence

This will prevent getrandom(2) from blocking, if there is a
willingness to trust the CPU manufacturer.

Signed-off-by: Theodore Ts'o <>

I'm not sure Linux distro's will thank us for this. The problem is
trusting the CPU manfuacturer can be an emotional / political issue.

For example, assume that China has decided that as a result of the
"death sentence" that the US government threatened to impose on ZTE
after they were caught introducing privacy violating malware on US
comsumers, that they needed to be self-sufficient in their technology
sector, and so they decided the needed to produce their own CPU.

Even if I were convinced that Intel hadn't backdoored RDRAND (or an
NSA agent backdoored RDRAND for them) such that the NSA had a NOBUS
(nobody but us) capability to crack RDRAND generated numbers, if we
made a change to unconditionally trust RDRAND, then I didn't want the
upstream kernel developers to have to answer the question, "why are
you willing to trust Intel, but you aren't willing to trust a company
owned and controlled by a PLA general?" (Or a company owned and
controlled by one of Putin's Oligarchs, if that makes you feel

With this patch, we don't put ourselves in this position --- but we
do put the Linux distro's in this position intead. The upside is it
gives the choice to each person building their own Linux kernel to
decide whether trusting RDRAND is worth it to avoid hangs due to
userspace trying to get cryptographic-grade entropy early in the boot
process. (Note: I trust RDRAND more than I do Jitter Entropy.)

drivers/char/Kconfig | 14 ++++++++++++++
drivers/char/random.c | 11 ++++++++++-
2 files changed, 24 insertions(+), 1 deletion(-)

diff --git a/drivers/char/Kconfig b/drivers/char/Kconfig
index 212f447938ae..fe2930c4ecf0 100644
--- a/drivers/char/Kconfig
+++ b/drivers/char/Kconfig
@@ -554,3 +554,17 @@ config ADI


+ bool "Trust the CPU manufacturer to initialize Linux's CRNG"
+ depends on (X86 || X86_64 || X86_32 || S390 || PPC)
+ default n
+ help
+ Assume that CPU manufacurer (e.g., Intel or AMD for RDSEED or
+ RDRAND, IBM for the S390 and Power PC architectures) is trustworthy
+ for the purposes of initializing Linux's CRNG. Since this is not
+ something that can be indepedently audited, this amounts to trusting
+ that CPU manufacturer (perhaps with the insistance or requirement
+ of a Nation State's intelligence or law enforcement agencies)
+ has not installed a hidden back door to compromise the CPU's
+ random number generation facilities.
diff --git a/drivers/char/random.c b/drivers/char/random.c
index 34ddfd57419b..f4013b8a711b 100644
--- a/drivers/char/random.c
+++ b/drivers/char/random.c
@@ -782,6 +782,7 @@ static void invalidate_batched_entropy(void);
static void crng_initialize(struct crng_state *crng)
int i;
+ int arch_init = 1;
unsigned long rv;

memcpy(&crng->state[0], "expand 32-byte k", 16);
@@ -792,10 +793,18 @@ static void crng_initialize(struct crng_state *crng)
_get_random_bytes(&crng->state[4], sizeof(__u32) * 12);
for (i = 4; i < 16; i++) {
if (!arch_get_random_seed_long(&rv) &&
- !arch_get_random_long(&rv))
+ !arch_get_random_long(&rv)) {
rv = random_get_entropy();
+ arch_init = 0;
+ }
crng->state[i] ^= rv;
+ if (arch_init) {
+ crng_init = 2;
+ pr_notice("random: crng done (trusting CPU's manufacturer)\n");
+ }
crng->init_time = jiffies - CRNG_RESEED_INTERVAL - 1;

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