Random numbers are very important for the generation of encryption keys and while encrypting communications. See [GCJ13].

Non-interactive systems (like servers) have a higher risk of not having enough random data available. Especially when they have just been installed, just rebooted or not many services have been running yet. See [KAea14a].

This section is to make sure enough random numbers are available at all times.

How much is available

The following commands shows you how much random data is available:

$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail

Software Installation

The following software packages help to ensure that enough random data is available right from the start of the server and at all times during its operation:

  • Pollinate seeds the pseudo random number generator by connecting to one or more Pollen (entropy-as-a-service) servers over an (optionally) encrypted connection and retrieve a random seed over HTTP or HTTPS. It is intended to supplement the /etc/init.d/urandom init script.

  • haveged uses HAVEGE (HArdware Volatile Entropy Gathering and Expansion) to maintain a 1M pool of random bytes used to fill /dev/random whenever the supply of random bits in dev/random falls below the low water mark of the device.

To install these run:

$ sudo apt-get install pollinate haveged

haveged is installed as services, automatically started and runs all the time. pollinate will run only once when the server just has been started and the random-numbers-pool may still be empty.

You may check the random-numbers pool again, to see the difference:

$ cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail

Re-Generate Keys


OpenSSH usually generates server automatically when the server starts the first time and there are no keys availble. Since its not clear if there was enouch random data available, OpenSSH keys should be regenerated once the packages above have been installed.


If you have already genenrated keys (as in Certificates and Keys) on this server before, you should discard them and genreate new ones.


Same is valid for OpenPGP / GnuPG keys.