I am using the bash shell and would like to pipe the out of the command openssl rand -base64 1000 to the command dd such as dd if={output of openssl} of="sample.txt bs=1G count=1. I think I can use variables but I am however unsure how best to do so. The reason I would like to create the file is because I would like a 1GB file with random text.


if= is not required, you can pipe something into dd instead:

something... | dd of=sample.txt bs=1G count=1

It wouldn't be useful here since openssl rand requires specifying the number of bytes anyway. So you don't actually need ddthis would work:

openssl rand -out sample.txt -base64 $(( 2**30 * 3/4 ))

1 gigabyte is usually 230 bytes (though you can use 10**9 for 109 bytes instead). The * 3/4 part accounts for Base64 overhead, making the encoded output 1 GB.

Alternatively, you could use /dev/urandom, but it would be a little slower than OpenSSL:

dd if=/dev/urandom of=sample.txt bs=1G count=1

Personally, I would use bs=64M count=16 or similar:

dd if=/dev/urandom of=sample.txt bs=64M count=16
  • 2
    I posted a question regarding compressing large files at superuser.com/questions/467697/… and was advised that using /dev/urandom generates a binary file and not a true text file. – PeanutsMonkey Sep 6 '12 at 19:10
  • 2
    @PeanutsMonkey: Right; you would need something like dd if=/dev/urandom bs=750M count=1 | uuencode my_sample > sample.txt. – Scott Sep 6 '12 at 19:33
  • 3
    @PeanutsMonkey: There's no single "real world scenario", some scenarios might be dealing with gigabytes of text, others – with gigabytes of JPEGs, or gigabytes of compiled software... If you want a lot of text, download a Wikipedia dump for example. – user1686 Sep 6 '12 at 20:06
  • 2
    @PeanutsMonkey: The dd reads 750,000,000 bytes from /dev/urandom and pipes them into uuencode. uuencode encodes its input into a form of base64 encoding (not necessarily consistent with other programs). In other words, this converts binary data to text. I used 750M because I trusted grawity's statement that base64 encoding expands data by 33⅓%, so you need to ask for ¾ as much binary data as you want in your text file. – Scott Sep 6 '12 at 20:07
  • 4
    Note if it says dd: warning: partial read (33554431 bytes); suggest iflag=fullblock it will create a truncated file so add the iflag=fullblock flag, then it works. – rogerdpack Sep 27 '18 at 20:21

Create a 1GB.bin random content file:

 dd if=/dev/urandom of=1GB.bin bs=64M count=16 iflag=fullblock
  • 6
    For me, iflag=fullblock was the necessary addition compare to other answers. – dojuba Sep 18 '18 at 14:55

If you want EXACTLY 1GB, then you can use the following:

openssl rand -out $testfile -base64 792917038; truncate -s-1 $testfile

The openssl command makes a file exactly 1 byte too big. The truncate command trims that byte off.

  • That extra byte is probably because of the -base64. Removing it will result in a file with the correct size. – Daniel Oct 10 '19 at 11:34

Try this script.

openssl rand -base64 1000 | dd of=sample.txt bs=1G count=1

This script might work as long as you don't mind using /dev/random.

dd if=/dev/random of="sample.txt bs=1G count=1"
  • 8
    I wouldn't recommend wasting /dev/random on this unless there's a very good reason to do so. /dev/urandom is much cheaper. – Ansgar Wiechers Sep 6 '12 at 18:22
  • 1
    Also, $var=(command) isn't valid syntax in this context. – user1686 Sep 6 '12 at 18:58
  • @grawity - When you say it isn't valid, what do you mean? – PeanutsMonkey Sep 6 '12 at 19:08
  • I mean exactly that – it's incorrect. – user1686 Sep 6 '12 at 19:22
  • 3
    @grawity, @PeanutsMonkey: He made a typo; he meant random=$(openssl rand -base64 1000). Although I would question whether bash would let you assign a gigabyte-long value to a variable. And even if you do say random=$(openssl rand -base64 1000), the subsequent if=$random doesn't make sense. – Scott Sep 6 '12 at 19:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.