As we have seen, lock files, the locking of files and signals, can be used as a basic means of communication between processes. Lock files require the participating processes to agree upon file names and locations. The creation of a lock file carries with it a certain amount of system overhead characteristic of all file manipulations. In addition, the problems associated with the removal of "leftover" invalid lock files and the implementation of nonsystem- intensive polling techniques must be addressed. On the positive side, lock file techniques can be used in any UNIX environment that supports the creat system call, and cooperating processes do not need to be related .

UNIX has predefined routines that can be used to lock a file. We can use the presence of a lock on a file to indicate that a resource is unavailable. Advisory locking is less system-intensive than mandatory locking and is thus more common. As with lock files, the participating processes using advisory locking must cooperate to effectively communicate.

Signals provide us with another basic communication technique. While signals do not carry any information content, they can be, as we have seen, used to communicate from one process to another. From a system implementation standpoint, signals are more efficient than using lock files. However, participating processes must have access to each other's PIDs (in most cases the processes will be parent/child pairs). In most environments, the number of user -designated signals is limited. Cooperating processes must agree upon the "meaning" of each signal. When a signal is sent from one process to another, unless the receiving process acknowledges the receipt of the signal, there is no way for the sending process to know if its initial signal was received. Signal manipulation can be tricky, and its implementation from one version of UNIX to another may vary (this is one of the last areas of UNIX to be standardized). All of these techniques are easy to understand and to implement but are often difficult to implement well. However, all approaches have a number of limitations that remove them from serious consideration when reliable communication between processes is needed.

Programs and Processes

Processing Environment

Using Processes

Primitive Communications


Message Queues


Shared Memory

Remote Procedure Calls



Appendix A. Using Linux Manual Pages

Appendix B. UNIX Error Messages

Appendix C. RPC Syntax Diagrams

Appendix D. Profiling Programs

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Interprocess Communication in Linux
Interprocess Communications in Linux: The Nooks and Crannies
ISBN: 0130460427
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2001
Pages: 136
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