BSD 2.11 - man page for pipe (bsd section 2)
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pipe - create an interprocess communication channel
The pipe system call creates an I/O mechanism called a pipe. The file descriptors
returned can be used in read and write operations. When the pipe is written using the
descriptor fildes up to 4096 bytes of data are buffered before the writing process is
suspended. A read using the descriptor fildes will pick up the data.
It is assumed that after the pipe has been set up, two (or more) cooperating processes
(created by subsequent fork calls) will pass data through the pipe with read and write
The shell has a syntax to set up a linear array of processes connected by pipes.
Read calls on an empty pipe (no buffered data) with only one end (all write file descrip-
tors closed) returns an end-of-file.
Pipes are really a special case of the socketpair(2) call and, in fact, are implemented as
such in the system.
A signal is generated if a write on a pipe with only one end is attempted.
The function value zero is returned if the pipe was created; -1 if an error occurred.
The pipe call will fail if:
[EMFILE] Too many descriptors are active.
[ENFILE] The system file table is full.
[EFAULT] The fildes buffer is in an invalid area of the process's address space.
sh(1), read(2), write(2), fork(2), socketpair(2)
Should more than 4096 bytes be necessary in any pipe among a loop of processes, deadlock
4th Berkeley Distribution August 26, 1985 PIPE(2)
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