Using Pipes in Linux Processes

Pipes can be used in threads and processes. The program below demonstrates how pipes can be used in processes. A new process can be created using the system call fork(). It returns two differnt values to the child and parent. The value 0 is returned to the child (new) process and the PID (Process ID) of the child is returned to the parent process. This is used to distinguish between the two processes. In the program given below, the child process waits for the user input and once an input is entered, it writes into the pipe. And the parent process reads from the pipe.

A sample program to demonstrate how pipes are used in Linux Processes

#include <stdio.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <string.h>

#define MSGLEN  64

int main(){
    int     fd[2];
    pid_t pid;
    int     result;

    //Creating a pipe
    result = pipe (fd);
    if (result < 0) {
        //failure in creating a pipe
        exit (1);

    //Creating a child process
    pid = fork();
    if (pid < 0) {
         //failure in creating a child
         perror ("fork");

    if (pid == 0) {
        //Child process
         char message[MSGLEN];

          while(1) {
                    //Clearing the message
                    memset (message, 0, sizeof(message));
                    printf ("Enter a message: ");
                    scanf ("%s",message);

                    //Writing message to the pipe
                    write(fd[1], message, strlen(message));
            exit (0);
    else {
        //Parent Process
         char message[MSGLEN];

         while (1) {
                    //Clearing the message buffer
                    memset (message, 0, sizeof(message));

                    //Reading message from the pipe
                   read (fd[0], message, sizeof(message));
                    printf("Message entered %s\n",message);


Note here that the pipe() system call was called before the system call fork(). The buffer allocated to the pipe is accessible to both the processes.



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