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16 Sockets

This chapter describes the GNU facilities for interprocess communication using sockets.

A socket is a generalized interprocess communication channel. Like a pipe, a socket is represented as a file descriptor. Unlike pipes sockets support communication between unrelated processes, and even between processes running on different machines that communicate over a network. Sockets are the primary means of communicating with other machines; telnet, rlogin, ftp, talk and the other familiar network programs use sockets.

Not all operating systems support sockets. In the GNU C Library, the header file sys/socket.h exists regardless of the operating system, and the socket functions always exist, but if the system does not really support sockets these functions always fail.

Incomplete: We do not currently document the facilities for broadcast messages or for configuring Internet interfaces. The reentrant functions and some newer functions that are related to IPv6 aren’t documented either so far.