pipe -- create descriptor pair for interprocess communication
Standard C Library (libc, -lc)
The pipe() system call creates a pipe, which is an object allowing bidirectional
data flow, and allocates a pair of file descriptors.
By convention, the first descriptor is normally used as the read end of
the pipe, and the second is normally the write end, so that data written
to fildes appears on (i.e., can be read from) fildes. This allows
the output of one program to be sent to another program: the source's
standard output is set up to be the write end of the pipe, and the sink's
standard input is set up to be the read end of the pipe. The pipe itself
persists until all its associated descriptors are closed.
A pipe that has had an end closed is considered widowed. Writing on such
a pipe causes the writing process to receive a SIGPIPE signal. Widowing
a pipe is the only way to deliver end-of-file to a reader: after the
reader consumes any buffered data, reading a widowed pipe returns a zero
The bidirectional nature of this implementation of pipes is not portable
to older systems, so it is recommended to use the convention for using
the endpoints in the traditional manner when using a pipe in one direction.
The pipe() function returns the value 0 if successful; otherwise the
value -1 is returned and the global variable errno is set to indicate the
The pipe() system call will fail if:
[EMFILE] Too many descriptors are active.
[ENFILE] The system file table is full.
[EFAULT] The fildes buffer is in an invalid area of the
process's address space.
sh(1), fork(2), read(2), socketpair(2), write(2)
The pipe() function appeared in Version 3 AT&T UNIX.
Bidirectional pipes were first used on AT&T System V.4 UNIX.
FreeBSD 5.2.1 June 4, 1993 FreeBSD 5.2.1 [ Back ]