Ultimate Guide to Unix Domain Socket: Understanding Its Basics and Functionality

If you are into networking or programming, you might have come across the term Unix domain socket. It is a powerful communication mechanism that allows inter-process communication (IPC) between two processes residing on the same host. Unix domain sockets are widely used in various applications, including web servers, databases, and many others.

In this article, we will delve deeper into the world of Unix domain sockets. We will discuss its basics, functionality, advantages, and how to use it in your applications. So, let’s get started.

What is Unix Domain Socket?

Unix domain socket is a type of socket mechanism used for IPC between processes running on the same host. It is commonly used in UNIX-like operating systems such as Linux, BSD, and macOS. Unix domain sockets provide a reliable, fast, and secure way of communication between two processes.

How Unix Domain Socket Works?

Unix domain sockets work on the same principle as internet sockets. However, instead of using an IP address and port number, Unix domain sockets use a file path as an address. A Unix domain socket consists of two endpoints, a server, and a client. The server endpoint creates a socket file and listens for incoming connections, whereas the client endpoint connects to the server socket.

When a client connects to the server socket, a new socket is created, which is used for communication between the two processes. The communication takes place using standard read and write system calls, which are provided by the operating system.

Advantages of Unix Domain Sockets

Unix domain sockets offer several advantages over other IPC mechanisms. Some of the key advantages are:

  • Fast: Unix domain sockets are faster than other IPC mechanisms, such as named pipes and message queues, as they do not incur the overhead of TCP/IP protocol stack.
  • Secure: Unix domain sockets are more secure than other IPC mechanisms as they are not accessible from the network and can only be used for communication between processes running on the same host.
  • Reliable: Unix domain sockets provide reliable communication between two processes as they use a connection-oriented protocol and provide error detection and recovery mechanisms.
  • Easy to use: Unix domain sockets are easy to use and require minimal setup and configuration.

How to Create Unix Domain Socket in C?

Creating a Unix domain socket in C is a straightforward process. Here are the steps to create a Unix domain socket:

  1. Create a socket file using the socket system call.
  2. Bind the socket to a file path using the bind system call.
  3. Start listening for incoming connections using the listen system call.
  4. Accept incoming connections using the accept system call.
  5. Communicate with the client using the read and write system calls.

How to Use Unix Domain Socket in Python?

Python provides a socket module that can be used to create Unix domain sockets. Here is an example code to create a Unix domain socket in Python:

import socket

sock = socket.socket(socket.AF_UNIX, socket.SOCK_STREAM)



conn, addr = sock.accept()

data = conn.recv(1024)




The above code creates a Unix domain socket and listens for incoming connections. When a client connects, it receives the data from the client and sends it back to the client.


What is the difference between Unix domain socket and TCP/IP socket?

The main difference between Unix domain socket and TCP/IP socket is that Unix domain sockets are used for communication between processes running on the same host, whereas TCP/IP sockets are used for communication between processes running on different hosts.

Can Unix domain socket be used for network communication?

No, Unix domain sockets cannot be used for network communication. They can only be used for communication between processes running on the same host.

Which programming languages support Unix domain sockets?

Most programming languages, including C, C++, Python, Ruby, and Perl, support Unix domain sockets.