The /dev/random driver gathers environmental noise from various non-deterministic sources including, but not limited to, inter-keyboard timings and inter-interrupt timings that occur within the operating system environment. The noise data is sampled and combined with a CRC-like mixing function into a continuously updating "entropy-pool". Random bit strings are obtained by taking a MD5 hash of the contents of this pool. The one-way hash function distills the true random bits from pool data and hides the state of the pool from adversaries.

The /dev/random routine maintains an estimate of true randomness in the pool and decreases it every time random strings are requested for use. When the estimate goes down to zero, the routine locks and waits for the occurrence of non-deterministic events to refresh the pool.

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