PIPE(2) BSD Programmer's Manual PIPE(2)
pipe - create descriptor pair for interprocess communication
The pipe() function creates a pipe, which is an object allowing unidirec-
tional data flow, and allocates a pair of file descriptors. The first
descriptor connects to the read end of the pipe, and the second connects
to 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 whose read or write end has been 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 count.
Pipes are really a special case of the socketpair(2) call and, in fact,
are implemented as such in the system.
On successful creation of the pipe, zero is returned. Otherwise, a value
of -1 is returned and the variable errno set to indicate the error.
The pipe() 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 ad-
sh(1), read(2), write(2), fork(2), socketpair(2)
A pipe function call appeared in Version 6 AT&T UNIX.
4th Berkeley Distribution June 4, 1993 1