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Benjamin Oakes

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Hi, I'm Ben Oakes and this is my geek blog. Currently, I'm a Ruby/JavaScript Developer at Liaison. Previously, I was a Developer at Continuity and Hedgeye, a Research Assistant in the Early Social Cognition Lab at Yale University and a student at the University of Iowa. I also organize TechCorridor.io, ICRuby, OpenHack Iowa City, and previously organized NewHaven.rb. I have an amazing wife named Danielle Oakes.

Disabling RdRand in Linux

by Ben

Linus Responds To RdRand Petition With Scorn – Slashdot.
Torvalds’ response to whether RdRand could be compromised in the Linux kernel | Hacker News.
Linus Torvalds responds – Change.org.

This got a surprising amount of attention, mostly because of one of Linus’ classic responses. My feeling is that it’s good to question these types of things. However, making a petition against using a hardware random number generator, and including some vague concerns about the NSA probably isn’t quite the right way to go about it.

Anyway, I learned today (from a Slashdot comment) that you can simply pass nordrand to the kernel to disable RdRand if you really don’t like it. Whether or not “the NSA” is on your list of reasons is up to you.

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SeanVN says:

There is a hardware bug on some Intel Ivy Bridge processors that causes an illegal instruction exception. You can see the Wikipedia entry on RdRand for initial information. I have that problem on my new Ivy Bridge laptop. I am not happy because I would actually have a ordinary engineering application that would benefit from that instruction. I want my money back from Intel.

Ben says:

I’m sorry to hear that, Sean! It smacks of the floating point bug in early Pentium chips. I wish you luck in getting a replacement or a refund.

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