Network Interface Guide

Socket Types

Socket types define the communication properties visible to a user. The Internet family sockets provide access to the TCP/IP transport protocols. The Internet family is identified by the value AF_INET6, for sockets that can communicate over both IPv6 and IPv4. The value AF_INET is also supported for source compatibility with old applications and for "raw" access to IPv4.

Three types of sockets are supported:

  1. Stream sockets allow processes to communicate using TCP. A stream socket provides bidirectional, reliable, sequenced, and unduplicated flow of data with no record boundaries. After the connection has been established, data can be read from and written to these sockets as a byte stream. The socket type is SOCK_STREAM.

  2. Datagram sockets allow processes to use UDP to communicate. A datagram socket supports bidirectional flow of messages. A process on a datagram socket can receive messages in a different order from the sending sequence and can receive duplicate messages. Record boundaries in the data are preserved. The socket type is SOCK_DGRAM.

  3. Raw sockets provide access to ICMP. These sockets are normally datagram oriented, although their exact characteristics are dependent on the interface provided by the protocol. Raw sockets are not for most applications. They are provided to support developing new communication protocols or for access to more esoteric facilities of an existing protocol. Only superuser processes can use raw sockets. The socket type is SOCK_RAW.

See "Selecting Specific Protocols" for further information.