Sockets provide point-to-point, two-way communication between two processes. Sockets are very versatile and are a basic component of interprocess and intersystem communication. A socket is an endpoint of communication to which a name can be bound. It has a type and one or more associated processes.
Sockets exist in communication domains. A socket domain is an abstraction that provides an addressing structure and a set of protocols. Sockets connect only with sockets in the same domain. Twenty-three socket domains are identified (see <sys/socket.h>), of which only the UNIX and Internet domains are normally used in SunOS 5.8 and compatible operating environments.
Sockets can be used to communicate between processes on a single system, like other forms of IPC. The UNIX domain (AF_UNIX) provides a socket address space on a single system. UNIX domain sockets are named with UNIX paths. UNIX domain sockets are further described in "UNIX Domain Sockets" in Network Interface Guide. Sockets can also be used to communicate between processes on different systems. The socket address space between connected systems is called the Internet domain (AF_INET). Internet domain communication uses the TCP/IP internet protocol suite. Internet domain sockets are described in "Socket Interfaces" in Network Interface Guide.