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C compilers on different systems lay out structures differently. In some cases there can even be layout differences between different C compilers on the same system. Compilers add gaps between fields, and these gaps have different sizes and are at different locations. You can normally assume that there are no gaps between fields of type
These structure layout issues mean that it is difficult to portably use a C struct to define the format of data which may be read on another type of system, such as data in a file or sent over a network connection. Portable code must read and write such data field by field, rather than trying to read an entire struct at once.
Here is an example of non-portable code when reading data which may have been written to a file or a network connection on another type of system. Don't do this.
Instead, do something like this (the struct