Experimental random number generator (RNG) using cheap Bluetooth adapters.
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COPYING
ChangeLog
Makefile
README
bt_rng.c
csr.h
csr_hci.c

README

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=                     bt_rng - Experimental Bluetooth PRNG                     =
=                       Tom Nardi (MS3FGX@gmail.com)                           =
================================================================================

bt_rng is a program designed to test the validity of random numbers generated
with the PRNG present in Bluetooth adapters using the Cambridge Silicon Radio
chipset. It is in no way guaranteed to be stable, and the numbers it generates
are certainly not guaranteed to be good enough for use in any serious capacity.
That said, it is an interesting experiment to see what sort of random numbers
can be generated from very cheap ($3 shipped, from some retailers) hardware
that is less susceptible to outside influences than some other forms of PRNGs.

bt_rng is based heavily on bccmd, written for BlueZ by Marcel Holtmann.

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- Requirements                                                                 -
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bt_rng obviously requires both a suitable CSR based Bluetooth adapter. Anything
with the CSR chipset should work, though in my testing I found a few adapters
that simply didn't return numbers when queried by the software. I have tested
with both cheap adapters bought online for a few dollars to the AIRcable Host
XR industrial Bluetooth adapter. Performance is the same with any adapter, as
long as it is able to output random numbers it will do so just as fast (or
slow) as any other.

I would be very interested in hearing from anyone who got bt_rng up and running
on their own hardware. I would like to make some type of rough compatibility
list of devices that are known (or at least are likely) to work.

Naturally you must also have the Linux Bluetooth API, BlueZ installed. bt_rng
is known to work on BlueZ 3.36 and 4.56 (presumably everything in between as
well). It has been tested extensively on those two versions.

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- Installation                                                                 -
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To run bt_rng, simply run the command "make" in this directory. If you get
any message about missing libraries, use your distribution's package manager to
install them.

On Debian-like systems make sure you install the BlueZ development libraries,
not just BlueZ itself.

If you'd like to install bt_rng system-wide, run "make install".

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- Usage                                                                        -
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Using bt_rng is simple. First, you need to be root. Sorry, but this is the way
BlueZ works, there isn't anything I can do about it.

Beyond that, bt_rng has a few options you should be aware of:

-i <iterations>
    This controls how many iterations, or loops, that bt_rng will run. Keep in
mind this doesn't mean it will generate that number of random digits. The
adapter returns numbers of various lengths, and depending on which output
format you select the resulting number of digits might be much higher, or much
lower, than the iteration count.

-t <threads>
    This is the number of threads bt_rng should break into. Each thread must
have it's own Bluetooth adapter. Thread 0 will use hci0, thread 1 will use
hci1, etc, etc. bt_rng supports up to 4 threads, but for stability reasons it
is not recommended to run more than 2 threads if at all possible.

-o <filename>
    This tells bt_rng to use a different filename than the default output.txt

-n 
    By default, bt_rng interprets the digits coming out of the Bluetooth device
as a string of 0's and 1's. When using this option, bt_rng will instead record
the random number as given from the hardware with no interpretation.

-d
    This enables daemon mode, allowing bt_rng to run in the background. Status
info will be written to syslog when daemon mode is active.

-k
    Use this option to kill an already running instance of bt_rng.

-v
    Enables verbose output mode, which prints a status message for each thread
every 10,000 iterations. This works out to be around every 2.5 minutes, which
seems sane enough for large runs. Obviously this option will do nothing if the
number of iterations is not set higher than 10,000. Default is disabled.

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- Performance                                                                  -
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Due to the nature of the polling process, generation of numbers using this
method is exceedingly slow. Generation can be as slow as 100 bytes per second
using a single adapter on a ~1 GHz machine.

To address this issue, bt_rng is capable of breaking off into up to 4 threads,
each with it's own dedicated adapter. Unfortunately, performance suffers due to
errors in the number generation once there are too many concurrent requests.
bt_rng can automatically correct for these deviations gracefully (usually), but
it involves throttling back the process and requesting a new number up to 6
times. This means that overall the speed with multiple adapters on a single
machine can be hindered significantly. These errors get more frequent as the
number adapters increase, so while bt_rng is capable of running with up to 4
devices, using more than 2 at a time is not recommended.

For this reason, it is strongly suggested to run bt_rng on a cluster if at all
possible. By sharing out the bt_rng binary on an NFS export, multiple machines
can execute the binary and write to the same "output.txt" file simultaneously.
Not only will 2 nodes running 2 threads each be faster than one node running 4,
the interleaving effect of the two machines writing to the same file at the
same time should help counteract bias in any one particular adapter.

Note:
Some recent testing on my machines seems to indicate that reliability with
multiple adapters increases if the adapters are on different USB controllers.
In other words, rather than plugging 4 Bluetooth USB adapters into a single
USB card, try plugging 2 into the card and 2 into the motherboard's USB
controller.

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- Thanks                                                                       -
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I received a lot of excellent information and advice from Simon Cooper, the
co-creator of LavaRND. I would like to thank him for his input and guidance
with this project.

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- License                                                                      -
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This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under
the terms of the GNU General Public License version 2 as published by the Free
Software Foundation.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY
WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A
PARTICULAR PURPOSE.

For details, see the file "COPYING" in the source directory.

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- More Info                                                                    -
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