udp - User Datagram Protocol for IPv4


#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
udp_socket = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_DGRAM, 0);


This is an implementation of the User Datagram Protocol described in RFC 768. It implements a connectionless, unreliable datagram packet service. Packets may be reordered or duplicated before they arrive. UDP generates and checks checksums to catch transmission errors.

When a UDP socket is created, its local and remote addresses are unspecified. Datagrams can be sent immediately using sendto(2) or sendmsg(2) with a valid destination address as an argument. When connect(2) is called on the socket the default destination address is set and datagrams can now be sent using send(2) or write(2) without specifying an destination address. It is still possible to send to other destinations by passing an address to sendto(2) or sendmsg(2). In order to receive packets the socket can be bound to an local address first by using bind(2). Otherwise the socket layer will automatically assign a free local port out of the range defined by net.ipv4.ip_local_port_range and bind the socket to INADDR_ANY.

All receive operations return only one packet. When the packet is smaller than the passed buffer only that much data is returned, when it is bigger the packet is truncated and the MSG_TRUNC flag is set. MSG_WAITALL is not supported.

IP options may be sent or received using the socket options described in ip(7). They are only processed by the kernel when the appropriate sysctl is enabled (but still passed to the user even when it is turned off). See ip(7).

When the MSG_DONTROUTE flag is set on sending the destination address must refer to an local interface address and the packet is only sent to that interface.

UDP fragments a packet when its total length exceeds the interface MTU (Maximum Transmission Unit). A more network friendly alternative is to use path MTU discovery as described in the IP_MTU_DISCOVER section of ip(7).


UDP uses the IPv4 sockaddr_in address format described in ip(7).


All fatal errors will be passed to the user as an error return even when the socket is not connected. This includes asynchronous errors received from the network. You may get an error for an earlier packet that was sent on the same socket. This behaviour differs from many other BSD socket implementations which don't pass any errors unless the socket is connected. Linux's behaviour is mandated by RFC 1122.

For compatibility with legacy code in Linux 2.0 and 2.2 it was possible to set the SO_BSDCOMPAT SOL_SOCKET option to receive remote errors only when the socket has been connected (except for EPROTO and EMSGSIZE). Locally generated errors are always passed. Support for this socket option was removed in later kernels; see socket(7) for further information.

When the IP_RECVERR option is enabled all errors are stored in the socket error queue and can be received by recvmsg(2) with the MSG_ERRQUEUE flag set.


To set or get a UDP socket option, call getsockopt(2) to read or setsockopt(2) to write the option with the option level argument set to IPPROTO_UDP.
UDP_CORK (since Linux 2.5.44)
If this option is enabled, then all data output on this socket is accumulated into a single datagram that is transmitted when the option is disabled. This option should not be used in code intended to be portable.


These ioctls can be accessed using ioctl(2). The correct syntax is:
 int value;
 error = ioctl(udp_socket, ioctl_type, &value);
Gets a pointer to an integer as argument. Returns the size of the next pending datagram in the integer in bytes, or 0 when no datagram is pending.
Returns the number of data bytes in the local send queue. Only supported with Linux 2.4 and above.

In addition all ioctls documented in ip(7) and socket(7) are supported.


All errors documented for socket(7) or ip(7) may be returned by a send or receive on a UDP socket.

ECONNREFUSED No receiver was associated with the destination address. This might be caused by a previous packet sent over the socket.


IP_RECVERR is a new feature in Linux 2.2.


This man page was written by Andi Kleen.


ip(7), raw(7), socket(7)

RFC 768 for the User Datagram Protocol.
RFC 1122 for the host requirements.
RFC 1191 for a description of path MTU discovery.