SOCKET(2) Linux Programmer's Manual SOCKET(2)
socket - create an endpoint for communication
int socket(int domain, int type, int protocol);
Socket creates an endpoint for communication and returns a descriptor.
The domain parameter specifies a communication domain; this selects the protocol family
which will be used for communication. These families are defined in <sys/socket.h>. The
currently understood formats include:
Name Purpose Man page
PF_UNIX,PF_LOCAL Local communication unix(7)
PF_INET IPv4 Internet protocols ip(7)
PF_INET6 IPv6 Internet protocols
PF_IPX IPX - Novell protocols
PF_NETLINK Kernel user interface device netlink(7)
PF_X25 ITU-T X.25 / ISO-8208 protocol x25(7)
PF_AX25 Amateur radio AX.25 protocol
PF_ATMPVC Access to raw ATM PVCs
PF_APPLETALK Appletalk ddp(7)
PF_PACKET Low level packet interface packet(7)
The socket has the indicated type, which specifies the communication semantics. Currently
defined types are:
Provides sequenced, reliable, two-way, connection-based byte streams. An out-of-
band data transmission mechanism may be supported.
Supports datagrams (connectionless, unreliable messages of a fixed maximum length).
Provides a sequenced, reliable, two-way connection-based data transmission path for
datagrams of fixed maximum length; a consumer is required to read an entire packet
with each read system call.
Provides raw network protocol access.
Provides a reliable datagram layer that does not guarantee ordering.
Obsolete and should not be used in new programs; see packet(7).
Some socket types may not be implemented by all protocol families; for example, SOCK_SEQ-
PACKET is not implemented for AF_INET.
The protocol specifies a particular protocol to be used with the socket. Normally only a
single protocol exists to support a particular socket type within a given protocol family,
in which a case protocol can be specified as 0. However, it is possible that many proto-
cols may exist, in which case a particular protocol must be specified in this manner. The
protocol number to use is specific to the "communication domain" in which communication is
to take place; see protocols(5). See getprotoent(3) on how to map protocol name strings
to protocol numbers.
Sockets of type SOCK_STREAM are full-duplex byte streams, similar to pipes. They do not
preserve record boundaries. A stream socket must be in a connected state before any data
may be sent or received on it. A connection to another socket is created with a con-
nect(2) call. Once connected, data may be transferred using read(2) and write(2) calls or
some variant of the send(2) and recv(2) calls. When a session has been completed a
close(2) may be performed. Out-of-band data may also be transmitted as described in
send(2) and received as described in recv(2).
The communications protocols which implement a SOCK_STREAM ensure that data is not lost or
duplicated. If a piece of data for which the peer protocol has buffer space cannot be
successfully transmitted within a reasonable length of time, then the connection is con-
sidered to be dead. When SO_KEEPALIVE is enabled on the socket the protocol checks in a
protocol-specific manner if the other end is still alive. A SIGPIPE signal is raised if a
process sends or receives on a broken stream; this causes naive processes, which do not
handle the signal, to exit. SOCK_SEQPACKET sockets employ the same system calls as
SOCK_STREAM sockets. The only difference is that read(2) calls will return only the
amount of data requested, and any remaining in the arriving packet will be discarded. Also
all message boundaries in incoming datagrams are preserved.
SOCK_DGRAM and SOCK_RAW sockets allow sending of datagrams to correspondents named in
send(2) calls. Datagrams are generally received with recvfrom(2), which returns the next
datagram with its return address.
SOCK_PACKET is an obsolete socket type to receive raw packets directly from the device
driver. Use packet(7) instead.
An fcntl(2) call with the the F_SETOWN argument can be used to specify a process group to
receive a SIGURG signal when the out-of-band data arrives or SIGPIPE signal when a
SOCK_STREAM connection breaks unexpectedly. It may also be used to set the process or
process group that receives the I/O and asynchronous notification of I/O events via SIGIO.
Using F_SETOWN is equivalent to an ioctl(2) call with the FIOSETOWN or SIOCSPGRP argument.
When the network signals an error condition to the protocol module (e.g. using a ICMP
message for IP) the pending error flag is set for the socket. The next operation on this
socket will return the error code of the pending error. For some protocols it is possible
to enable a per-socket error queue to retrieve detailed information about the error; see
IP_RECVERR in ip(7).
The operation of sockets is controlled by socket level options. These options are defined
in <sys/socket.h>. The functions setsockopt(2) and getsockopt(2) are used to set and get
-1 is returned if an error occurs; otherwise the return value is a descriptor referencing
The protocol type or the specified protocol is not supported within this domain.
The implementation does not support the specified address family.
ENFILE Not enough kernel memory to allocate a new socket structure.
EMFILE Process file table overflow.
EACCES Permission to create a socket of the specified type and/or protocol is denied.
ENOBUFS or ENOMEM
Insufficient memory is available. The socket cannot be created until sufficient
resources are freed.
EINVAL Unknown protocol, or protocol family not available.
Other errors may be generated by the underlying protocol modules.
4.4BSD (the socket function call appeared in 4.2BSD). Generally portable to/from non-BSD
systems supporting clones of the BSD socket layer (including System V variants).
The manifest constants used under BSD 4.* for protocol families are PF_UNIX, PF_INET,
etc., while AF_UNIX etc. are used for address families. However, already the BSD man page
promises: "The protocol family generally is the same as the address family", and subse-
quent standards use AF_* everywhere.
SOCK_UUCP is not implemented yet.
accept(2), bind(2), connect(2), fcntl(2), getpeername(2), getsockname(2), getsockopt(2),
ioctl(2), listen(2), read(2), recv(2), select(2), send(2), shutdown(2), socketpair(2),
write(2), getprotoent(3), ip(7), socket(7), tcp(7), udp(7), unix(7)
"An Introductory 4.3 BSD Interprocess Communication Tutorial" is reprinted in UNIX Pro-
grammer's Supplementary Documents Volume 1.
"BSD Interprocess Communication Tutorial" is reprinted in UNIX Programmer's Supplementary
Documents Volume 1.
Linux Man Page 1999-04-24 SOCKET(2)