CMSG(3)                     Linux Programmer's Manual                    CMSG(3)


       #include <sys/socket.h>

       struct cmsghdr *CMSG_FIRSTHDR(struct msghdr *msgh);
       struct cmsghdr *CMSG_NXTHDR(struct msghdr *msgh,
                                   struct cmsghdr *cmsg);
       size_t CMSG_ALIGN(size_t length);
       size_t CMSG_SPACE(size_t length);
       size_t CMSG_LEN(size_t length);
       unsigned char *CMSG_DATA(struct cmsghdr *cmsg);

       These macros are used to create and access control messages (also called
       ancillary data) that are not a part of the socket payload.  This control
       information may include the interface the packet was received on, various
       rarely used header fields, an extended error description, a set of file
       descriptors, or UNIX credentials.  For instance, control messages can be
       used to send additional header fields such as IP options.  Ancillary data
       is sent by calling sendmsg(2) and received by calling recvmsg(2).  See
       their manual pages for more information.

       Ancillary data is a sequence of cmsghdr structures with appended data.
       See the specific protocol man pages for the available control message
       types.  The maximum ancillary buffer size allowed per socket can be set
       using /proc/sys/net/core/optmem_max; see socket(7).

       The cmsghdr structure is defined as follows:

           struct cmsghdr {
               size_t cmsg_len;    /* Data byte count, including header
                                      (type is socklen_t in POSIX) */
               int    cmsg_level;  /* Originating protocol */
               int    cmsg_type;   /* Protocol-specific type */
           /* followed by
              unsigned char cmsg_data[]; */

       The sequence of cmsghdr structures should never be accessed directly.
       Instead, use only the following macros:

       *  CMSG_FIRSTHDR() returns a pointer to the first cmsghdr in the
          ancillary data buffer associated with the passed msghdr.  It returns
          NULL if there isn't enough space for a cmsghdr in the buffer.

       *  CMSG_NXTHDR() returns the next valid cmsghdr after the passed cmsghdr.
          It returns NULL when there isn't enough space left in the buffer.

          When initializing a buffer that will contain a series of cmsghdr
          structures (e.g., to be sent with sendmsg(2)), that buffer should
          first be zero-initialized to ensure the correct operation of

       *  CMSG_ALIGN(), given a length, returns it including the required
          alignment.  This is a constant expression.

       *  CMSG_SPACE() returns the number of bytes an ancillary element with
          payload of the passed data length occupies.  This is a constant

       *  CMSG_DATA() returns a pointer to the data portion of a cmsghdr.  The
          pointer returned cannot be assumed to be suitably aligned for
          accessing arbitrary payload data types.  Applications should not cast
          it to a pointer type matching the payload, but should instead use
          memcpy(3) to copy data to or from a suitably declared object.

       *  CMSG_LEN() returns the value to store in the cmsg_len member of the
          cmsghdr structure, taking into account any necessary alignment.  It
          takes the data length as an argument.  This is a constant expression.

       To create ancillary data, first initialize the msg_controllen member of
       the msghdr with the length of the control message buffer.  Use
       CMSG_FIRSTHDR() on the msghdr to get the first control message and
       CMSG_NXTHDR() to get all subsequent ones.  In each control message,
       initialize cmsg_len (with CMSG_LEN()), the other cmsghdr header fields,
       and the data portion using CMSG_DATA().  Finally, the msg_controllen
       field of the msghdr should be set to the sum of the CMSG_SPACE() of the
       length of all control messages in the buffer.  For more information on
       the msghdr, see recvmsg(2).

       This ancillary data model conforms to the POSIX.1g draft, 4.4BSD-Lite,
       the IPv6 advanced API described in RFC 2292 and SUSv2.  CMSG_FIRSTHDR(),
       CMSG_NXTHDR(), and CMSG_DATA() are specified in POSIX.1-2008.
       CMSG_SPACE() and CMSG_LEN() will be included in the next POSIX release
       (Issue 8).

       CMSG_ALIGN() is a Linux extension.

       For portability, ancillary data should be accessed using only the macros
       described here.  CMSG_ALIGN() is a Linux extension and should not be used
       in portable programs.

       In Linux, CMSG_LEN(), CMSG_DATA(), and CMSG_ALIGN() are constant
       expressions (assuming their argument is constant), meaning that these
       values can be used to declare the size of global variables.  This may not
       be portable, however.

       This code looks for the IP_TTL option in a received ancillary buffer:

           struct msghdr msgh;
           struct cmsghdr *cmsg;
           int received_ttl;

           /* Receive auxiliary data in msgh */

           for (cmsg = CMSG_FIRSTHDR(&msgh); cmsg != NULL;
                   cmsg = CMSG_NXTHDR(&msgh, cmsg)) {
               if (cmsg->cmsg_level == IPPROTO_IP
                       && cmsg->cmsg_type == IP_TTL) {
                   memcpy(&receive_ttl, CMSG_DATA(cmsg), sizeof(received_ttl));

           if (cmsg == NULL) {
               /* Error: IP_TTL not enabled or small buffer or I/O error */

       The code below passes an array of file descriptors over a UNIX domain
       socket using SCM_RIGHTS:

           struct msghdr msg = { 0 };
           struct cmsghdr *cmsg;
           int myfds[NUM_FD];  /* Contains the file descriptors to pass */
           char iobuf[1];
           struct iovec io = {
               .iov_base = iobuf,
               .iov_len = sizeof(iobuf)
           union {         /* Ancillary data buffer, wrapped in a union
                              in order to ensure it is suitably aligned */
               char buf[CMSG_SPACE(sizeof(myfds))];
               struct cmsghdr align;
           } u;

           msg.msg_iov = &io;
           msg.msg_iovlen = 1;
           msg.msg_control = u.buf;
           msg.msg_controllen = sizeof(u.buf);
           cmsg = CMSG_FIRSTHDR(&msg);
           cmsg->cmsg_level = SOL_SOCKET;
           cmsg->cmsg_type = SCM_RIGHTS;
           cmsg->cmsg_len = CMSG_LEN(sizeof(myfds));
           memcpy(CMSG_DATA(cmsg), myfds, sizeof(myfds));

       For a complete code example that shows passing of file descriptors over a
       UNIX domain socket, see seccomp_unotify(2).

       recvmsg(2), sendmsg(2)

       RFC 2292

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Linux                              2021-03-22                            CMSG(3)