While generating a GPG key on my server, I got the following error:

Not enough random bytes available. Please do some other work to give the OS a chance to collect more entropy! (Need 283 more bytes)

That’s a well known issue on headless servers. Thanks to a comment on Hacker News, I knew there was a way to fix this thanks to software entropy generator, like the havege deamon.

My server is running Debian Squeeze. Luckily, a package is available in the backport repository. All we have to do is to add the latter in our source list before installing haveged:

$ echo 'deb https://backports.debian.org/debian-backports squeeze-backports main' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/squeeze-backports.list
$ apt-get update
$ apt-get -t squeeze-backports install haveged

Now you can get a proof that haveged is running by monitoring your entropy. Here is for example the Munin graph of my server, on which you can clearly see the big jump in available entropy:

If I’m not sure about the quality of the randomness it generate on virtual machines, haveged is still a really practical solution for lack of entropy on a server.

Related content