A Unix domain socket or IPC socket (inter-process communication socket) is a data communications endpoint for exchanging data between processes executing within the same host operating system. While similar in functionality to named pipes, Unix domain sockets may be created as connection‑mode (SOCK_STREAM or SOCK_SEQPACKET) or as connectionless (SOCK_DGRAM), while pipes are streams only. Processes using Unix domain sockets do not need to share a common ancestry. The API for Unix domain sockets is similar to that of an Internet socket, but it does not use an underlying network protocol for communication. The Unix domain socket facility is a standard component of POSIX operating systems.
Unix domain sockets use the file system as their address name space. They are referenced by processes as inodes in the file system. This allows two processes to open the same socket in order to communicate. However, communication occurs entirely within the operating system kernel.
In addition to sending data, processes may send file descriptors across a Unix domain socket connection using the
recvmsg() system calls.