crypt, crypt_r — password and data encryption


#define _XOPEN_SOURCE        /* See feature_test_macros(7) */
#include <unistd.h>
char *crypt( const char *key,
  const char *salt);

#define _GNU_SOURCE          /* See feature_test_macros(7) */
#include <crypt.h>
char *crypt_r( const char *key,
  const char *salt,
  struct crypt_data *data);
[Note] Note

Link with −lcrypt.


crypt() is the password encryption function. It is based on the Data Encryption Standard algorithm with variations intended (among other things) to discourage use of hardware implementations of a key search.

key is a user's typed password.

salt is a two-character string chosen from the set [a–zA–Z0–9./]. This string is used to perturb the algorithm in one of 4096 different ways.

By taking the lowest 7 bits of each of the first eight characters of the key, a 56-bit key is obtained. This 56-bit key is used to encrypt repeatedly a constant string (usually a string consisting of all zeros). The returned value points to the encrypted password, a series of 13 printable ASCII characters (the first two characters represent the salt itself). The return value points to static data whose content is overwritten by each call.

[Warning] Warning

The key space consists of 2**56 equal 7.2e16 possible values. Exhaustive searches of this key space are possible using massively parallel computers. Software, such as crack(1), is available which will search the portion of this key space that is generally used by humans for passwords. Hence, password selection should, at minimum, avoid common words and names. The use of a passwd(1) program that checks for crackable passwords during the selection process is recommended.

The DES algorithm itself has a few quirks which make the use of the crypt() interface a very poor choice for anything other than password authentication. If you are planning on using the crypt() interface for a cryptography project, don't do it: get a good book on encryption and one of the widely available DES libraries.

crypt_r() is a reentrant version of crypt(). The structure pointed to by data is used to store result data and bookkeeping information. Other than allocating it, the only thing that the caller should do with this structure is to set data->initialized to zero before the first call to crypt_r().


On success, a pointer to the encrypted password is returned. On error, NULL is returned.



The crypt() function was not implemented, probably because of U.S.A. export restrictions.


Multithreading (see pthreads(7))

The crypt() function is not thread-safe.

The crypt_r() function is thread-safe.


crypt(): SVr4, 4.3BSD, POSIX.1-2001. crypt_r() is a GNU extension.


Glibc notes

The glibc2 version of this function supports additional encryption algorithms.

If salt is a character string starting with the characters "$id$" followed by a string terminated by "$":


then instead of using the DES machine, id identifies the encryption method used and this then determines how the rest of the password string is interpreted. The following values of id are supported:

ID Method
1 MD5
2a Blowfish (not in mainline glibc; added in some
  Linux distributions)
5 SHA-256 (since glibc 2.7)
6 SHA-512 (since glibc 2.7)

So $5$salt$encrypted is an SHA-256 encoded password and $6$salt$encrypted is an SHA-512 encoded one.

"salt" stands for the up to 16 characters following "$id$" in the salt. The encrypted part of the password string is the actual computed password. The size of this string is fixed:

MD5 22 characters
SHA-256 43 characters
SHA-512 86 characters

The characters in "salt" and "encrypted" are drawn from the set [a–zA–Z0–9./]. In the MD5 and SHA implementations the entire key is significant (instead of only the first 8 bytes in DES).


login(1), passwd(1), encrypt(3), getpass(3), passwd(5)


This page is part of release 3.52 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can be found at−pages/.

  Michael Haardt (
    Sat Sep  3 22:00:30 MET DST 1994

This is free documentation; you can redistribute it and/or
modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as
published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of
the License, or (at your option) any later version.

The GNU General Public License's references to "object code"
and "executables" are to be interpreted as the output of any
document formatting or typesetting system, including
intermediate and printed output.

This manual is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public
License along with this manual; if not, see

Sun Feb 19 21:32:25 1995, edited details away

TO DO: This manual page should go more into detail how DES is perturbed,
which string will be encrypted, and what determines the repetition factor.
Is a simple repetition using ECB used, or something more advanced?  I hope
the presented explanations are at least better than nothing, but by no
means enough.

added _XOPEN_SOURCE, aeb, 970705
added GNU MD5 stuff, aeb, 011223