I am looking to read a few bytes from /dev/random on OS X and Linux. The simplest approach fails on both operating systems (see below).

Why? What is a workaround?

In[1]:= random = OpenRead["/dev/random"]

During evaluation of In[1]:= OpenRead::noopen: Cannot open /dev/random. >>

Out[1]= $Failed

In[2]:= BinaryRead["/dev/random", "Integer32"]

During evaluation of In[2]:= BinaryRead::nffil: File not found during BinaryRead[/dev/random,Integer32]. >>

Out[2]= $Failed

2 Answers 2


One workaround I found is this:

getRand[] :=
 AbortProtect@Module[{stream, res},
   stream = OpenRead["!head -c 4 /dev/random", BinaryFormat -> True];
   res = BinaryRead[stream, "UnsignedInteger32"];

Tested on OS X and Linux.


read n bytes from /dev/urandom and return a ByteArray:

getrnd[n_Integer /; n >= 1] := 
    ReadByteArray["!dd if=/dev/urandom count=1 bs=" <> ToString[n]]

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