#include <sodium.h>
int main(void)
if (sodium_init() == -1) {
return 1;

sodium.h is the only header that has to be included.

The library is called sodium (use -lsodium to link it), and proper compilation/linker flags can be obtained using pkg-config on systems where it is available:

CFLAGS=$(pkg-config --cflags libsodium)
LDFLAGS=$(pkg-config --libs libsodium)

For static linking, Visual Studio users should define SODIUM_STATIC=1 and SODIUM_EXPORT=. This is not required on other platforms.

Projects using CMake can include the Findsodium.cmake file from the Facebook Fizz project in order to detect and link the library.

sodium_init() initializes the library and should be called before any other function provided by Sodium. It is safe to call this function more than once and from different threads -- subsequent calls won't have any effects.

After this function returns, all of the other functions provided by Sodium will be thread-safe.

sodium_init() doesn't perform any memory allocations. However, on Unix systems, it may open /dev/urandom and keep the descriptor open, so that the device remains accessible after a chroot() call.

Multiple calls to sodium_init() do not cause additional descriptors to be opened.

sodium_init() returns 0 on success, -1 on failure, and 1 if the library had already been initialized.

Before returning, the function ensures that the system's random number generator has been properly seeded.

sodium_init() stalling on Linux

On some Linux systems, this may take some time, especially when called right after a reboot of the system. That issue has been reported on Digital Ocean virtual machines as well as on Scaleway ARM instances and AWS Nitro Enclaves.

This can be confirmed with the following command:

cat /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail

If the command returns 0 or a very low number (< 160), and you are not running an obsolete kernel, this is very likely to be the case.

In a virtualized environment, make sure that the virtio-rng interface is available. If this is a cloud service and the hypervisor settings are out of your reach, consider switching to a different service.

On a bare-metal host such as Scaleway instances, a possible workaround is to install the rng-tools package:

apt-get install rng-tools

And check the value of /proc/sys/kernel/random/entropy_avail again. If the value didn't go any higher, install haveged:

apt-get install haveged

Haveged should only be used as a very last resort. It hasn't received any updates for 10+ years, and shouldn't be trusted as a single entropy source, especially on virtualized environments.

Jitterentropy is a better alternative, but most Linux distributions don't offer it as an installable package yet.

On AWS Nitro Enclaves, workarounds include:

  • Calling the aws_nitro_enclaves_library_seed_entropy() function before sodium_init(), and occasionally afterwards.

  • Using the RDSEED CPU instruction to seed the kernel RNG (not recommended as a unique entropy source).

  • Setting random.trust_cpu=on in the kernel commandline (requires Linux kernel > 4.19).

Applications can warn users about the Linux RNG not being seeded before calling sodium_init() using code similar to the following:

#if defined(__linux__)
# include <fcntl.h>
# include <unistd.h>
# include <sys/ioctl.h>
# include <linux/random.h>
// ...
#if defined(__linux__) && defined(RNDGETENTCNT)
int fd;
int c;
if ((fd = open("/dev/random", O_RDONLY)) != -1) {
if (ioctl(fd, RNDGETENTCNT, &c) == 0 && c < 160) {
fputs("This system doesn't provide enough entropy to quickly generate high-quality random numbers.\n"
"Installing the rng-utils/rng-tools, jitterentropy or haveged packages may help.\n"
"On virtualized Linux environments, also consider using virtio-rng.\n"
"The service will not start until enough entropy has been collected.\n", stderr);
(void) close(fd);

Congrats, you're all set up!

A good documentation page to read next might be Quickstart and FAQ.