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IBM developerWorks: RunTime: Pipes in Linux, Windows 2000, and Windows XP

Nov 29, 2001, 18:13 (10 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by DR. Edward G. Bradford)

[ Thanks to Jostein Berntsen for this link. ]

"This month Ed begins a series of investigations into operating system programming interfaces, starting with pipes. He has also added a new operating system to the lineup; Windows XP has recently released. In this installment, Ed will be working with pipes on Windows 2000 Advanced Server (with Service Pack 2 installed), Linux (based on Red Hat 7.1), and the newly released Windows XP professional. Share your thoughts on this article with the author and other readers in the discussion forum by clicking Discuss at the top or bottom of the article.

Before we get started, please note that our nomenclature will be slightly different now that there are two versions of Windows on the market. I will refer to "Windows" when making no distinction between Windows 2000 and Windows XP. When there is a distinction, I will use "Windows 2000" or "Windows XP".

A pipe is an interprocess communication mechanism available on both Windows and Linux (and UNIX). Pipes originally appeared in the Bell Laboratories version of UNIX and have remained in all UNIXes and Linux since their inception. A pipe is a stream of bytes accessed through normal IO interfaces. It is created, and then written to or read from using whatever read or write IO system calls are available on the operating system. In the UNIX and Linux case, the IO calls are read() and write(). In the Windows world, the APIs are ReadFile() and WriteFile(). Windows pipes differ from Linux pipes in that a single handle (analogous to a Linux file descriptor) supports bi-directional IO. Linux pipes return two file descriptors to effect bi-directional IO."

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