Programming Interfaces Guide

Receiving IPv4 Multicast Datagrams

Before a host can receive IP multicast datagrams, the host must become a member of one or more IP multicast groups. A process can ask the host to join a multicast group by using the following socket option:

struct ip_mreq mreq;
setsockopt(sock, IPPROTO_IP, IP_ADD_MEMBERSHIP, &mreq, sizeof(mreq))

where mreq is the structure:

struct ip_mreq {
    struct in_addr imr_multiaddr;   /* multicast group to join */
    struct in_addr imr_interface;   /* interface to join on */

Each membership is associated with a single interface. You can join the same group on more than one interface. Specify the imr_interface address as INADDR_ANY to choose the default multicast interface. You can also specify one of the host's local addresses to choose a particular multicast-capable interface.

To drop a membership, use:

struct ip_mreq mreq;
setsockopt(sock, IPPROTO_IP, IP_DROP_MEMBERSHIP, &mreq, sizeof(mreq))

where mreq contains the same values used to add the membership. Closing a socket or killing the process that holds the socket drops the memberships associated with that socket. More than one socket can claim a membership in a particular group, and the host remains a member of that group until the last claim is dropped.

If any socket claims membership in the destination group of the datagram, the kernel IP layer accepts incoming multicast packets. A given socket's receipt of a multicast datagram depends on the socket's associated destination port and memberships, or the protocol type for raw sockets. To receive multicast datagrams sent to a particular port, bind to the local port, leaving the local address unspecified, such as INADDR_ANY.

More than one process can bind to the same SOCK_DGRAM UDP port if the bind(3SOCKET) is preceded by:

int one = 1;
setsockopt(sock, SOL_SOCKET, SO_REUSEADDR, &one, sizeof(one))

In this case, every incoming multicast or broadcast UDP datagram destined for the shared port is delivered to all sockets bound to the port. For backwards compatibility reasons, this delivery does not apply to incoming unicast datagrams. Unicast datagrams are never delivered to more than one socket, regardless of how many sockets are bound to the datagram's destination port. SOCK_RAW sockets do not require the SO_REUSEADDR option to share a single IP protocol type.

The definitions required for the new, multicast-related socket options are found in <netinet/in.h>. All IP addresses are passed in network byte-order.