RANDOM(6) MidnightBSD Games Manual RANDOM(6)


random — random lines from a file or random numbers


random [−elrUuw] [−f filename] [denominator]


Random has two distinct modes of operations. The default is to read in lines from the standard input and randomly write them out to the standard output with a probability of 1 / denominator. The default denominator for this mode of operation is 2, giving each line a 50/50 chance of being displayed.

The second mode of operation is to read in a file from filename and randomize the contents of the file and send it back out to standard output. The contents can be randomized based off of newlines or based off of space characters as determined by isspace(3). The default denominator for this mode of operation is 1, which gives each line a chance to be displayed, but in a random(3) order.

The options are as follows:


If the −e option is specified, random does not read or write anything, and simply exits with a random exit value of 0 to denominator - 1, inclusive.

−f filename

The −f option is used to specify the filename to read from. Standard input is used if filename is set to ‘’.


Randomize the input via newlines (the default).


The −r option guarantees that the output is unbuffered.


Tells random(6) that it is okay for it to reuse any given line or word when creating a randomized output.


Tells random(6) not to select the same line or word from a file more than once (the default). This does not guarantee uniqueness if there are two of the same tokens from the input, but it does prevent selecting the same token more than once.


Randomize words separated by isspace(3) instead of newlines.


random(3), fortune(6)


The functionality to randomizing lines and words was added in 2003 by Sean Chittenden 〈seanc@FreeBSD.org〉.

The patch which solved the problem of slowliness when working with files larger than 10MB+ was added in 2006 by Victor Loureiro Lima

MidnightBSD 0.3 November 27, 2006 MidnightBSD 0.3