1. Intro


You know what's easy? fork() is easy. You can fork off new processes all day and have them deal with individual chunks of a problem in parallel. Of course, its easiest if the processes don't have to communicate with one another while they're running and can just sit there doing their own thing.

However, when you start fork()'ing processes, you immediately start to think of the neat multi-user things you could do if the processes could talk to each other easily. So you try making a global array and then fork()'ing to see if it is shared. (That is, see if both the child and parent process use the same array.) Soon, of course, you find that the child process has its own copy of the array and the parent is oblivious to whatever changes the child makes to it.

How do you get these guys to talk to one another, share data structures, and be generally amicable? This document discusses several methods of Interprocess Communication (IPC) that can accomplish this, some of which are better suited to certain tasks than others.

1.1. Audience

If you know C or C++ and are pretty good using a Unix environment (or other POSIXey environment that supports these system calls) these documents are for you. If you aren't that good, well, don't sweat it—you'll be able to figure it out. I make the assumption, however, that you have a fair smattering of C programming experience.

As with Beej's Guide to Network Programming Using Internet Sockets, these documents are meant to springboard the aforementioned user into the realm of IPC by delivering a concise overview of various IPC techniques. This is not the definitive set of documents that cover this subject, by any means. Like I said, it is designed to simply give you a foothold in this, the exciting world of IPC.

1.2. Platform and Compiler

The examples in this document were compiled under Linux using gcc. They should compile anywhere a good Unix compiler is available.

1.3. Official Homepage

This official location of this document is http://beej.us/guide/bgipc/.

1.4. Email Policy

I'm generally available to help out with email questions so feel free to write in, but I can't guarantee a response. I lead a pretty busy life and there are times when I just can't answer a question you have. When that's the case, I usually just delete the message. It's nothing personal; I just won't ever have the time to give the detailed answer you require.

As a rule, the more complex the question, the less likely I am to respond. If you can narrow down your question before mailing it and be sure to include any pertinent information (like platform, compiler, error messages you're getting, and anything else you think might help me troubleshoot), you're much more likely to get a response. For more pointers, read ESR's document, How To Ask Questions The Smart Way.

If you don't get a response, hack on it some more, try to find the answer, and if it's still elusive, then write me again with the information you've found and hopefully it will be enough for me to help out.

Now that I've badgered you about how to write and not write me, I'd just like to let you know that I fully appreciate all the praise the guide has received over the years. It's a real morale boost, and it gladdens me to hear that it is being used for good! :-) Thank you!

1.5. Mirroring

You are more than welcome to mirror this site, whether publicly or privately. If you publicly mirror the site and want me to link to it from the main page, drop me a line at beej@beej.us.

1.6. Note for Translators

If you want to translate the guide into another language, write me at beej@beej.us and I'll link to your translation from the main page. Feel free to add your name and contact info to the translation.

Please note the license restrictions in the Copyright and Distribution section, below.

Sorry, but due to space constraints, I cannot host the translations myself.

1.7. Copyright and Distribution

Beej's Guide to Network Programming is Copyright © 2015 Brian "Beej Jorgensen" Hall.

With specific exceptions for source code and translations, below, this work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution- Noncommercial- No Derivative Works 3.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/ or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

One specific exception to the "No Derivative Works" portion of the license is as follows: this guide may be freely translated into any language, provided the translation is accurate, and the guide is reprinted in its entirety. The same license restrictions apply to the translation as to the original guide. The translation may also include the name and contact information for the translator.

The C source code presented in this document is hereby granted to the public domain, and is completely free of any license restriction.

Educators are freely encouraged to recommend or supply copies of this guide to their students.

Contact beej@beej.us for more information.