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read /dev/urandom 3

The above is not working..How can I read random bytes from /dev/urandom in bash?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 12 down vote accepted
random="$(dd if=/dev/urandom bs=3 count=1)"
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@Flimzy,how does $() work? –  linux Jun 23 '11 at 6:07
It treats the output of a command like a variable. Note: That's a bashism. If you're not using bash, you may need to use `` instead. `` is more universal, but I think $() is easier to read. –  Flimzy Jun 23 '11 at 6:08
@Flimzy,It treats the output of a command like a variable.,you actually mean as string,right? –  linux Jun 23 '11 at 6:14
A variable can be a string... or a number. It treats it as a variable... then depending on context, it's treated like a string, or a number. –  Flimzy Jun 23 '11 at 6:27
$() is pretty universal, not bash-specific. BTW, be careful you don't run into limitations on what characters the shell can store in variables -- for example, the version of bash I tested with leaves out nulls (\x00) from the string. –  Gordon Davisson Jun 23 '11 at 13:13
head -c 500 /dev/urandom | tr -dc 'a-zA-Z0-9~!@#$%^&*_-' | fold -w 3 | head -n 1

(If you want literal dash characters, the dash character must go at the end of the string).

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He's looking for 3 bytes... –  Chris S Feb 21 '13 at 16:56
3 plus exact pattern –  ADM Feb 21 '13 at 17:05
This is excellent. –  Danijel J Jan 31 at 3:28
Thats excellent. More then OP asked! –  TheHippo Feb 5 at 12:01
Great! There are also the char class names ([:graph|print|etc:]) available for the tr func, and it could be further simplified by replacing the fold -w 3 | head -n 1 by a head -c 3 if the new line char is not needed at the end. –  Zimmi Dec 14 at 22:39

Try this: dd if=/dev/urandom bs=1 count=3

If you want to put the result in $variable:

variable=`dd if=/dev/urandom bs=1 count=3`

Do note that it'll probably not be printable.

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