Ignas Limanauskas Ignas Limanauskas - 1 year ago 153
Android Question

How to create named pipe (mkfifo) in Android?

I am having trouble in creating named pipe in Android and the example below illustrates my dilemma:

res = mkfifo("/sdcard/fifo9000", S_IRWXO);
if (res != 0)
LOG("Error while creating a pipe (return:%d, errno:%d)", res, errno);

The code always prints:

Error while creating a pipe (return:-1, errno:1)

I can't figure out exactly why this fails. The application has android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE permissions. I can create normal files with exactly the same name in the same location, but pipe creation fails. The pipe in question should be accessible from multiple applications.

  1. I suspect that noone can create pipes in /sdcard. Where would it be the best location to do so?

  2. What mode mast should I set (2nd parameter)?

  3. Does application need any extra permissions?

Answer Source

Roosmaa's answer is correct -- mkfifo() just calls mknod() to create a special file, and FAT32 doesn't support that.

As an alternative you may want to consider using Linux's "abstract namespace" UNIX-domain sockets. They should be roughly equivalent to a named pipe. You can access them by name, but they're not part of the filesystem, so you don't have to deal with various permission issues. Note the socket is bi-directional.

Since it's a socket, you may need INTERNET permission. Not sure about that.

Here's a quick bit of client/server sample code:

#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <stddef.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/un.h>

 * Create a UNIX-domain socket address in the Linux "abstract namespace".
 * The socket code doesn't require null termination on the filename, but
 * we do it anyway so string functions work.
int makeAddr(const char* name, struct sockaddr_un* pAddr, socklen_t* pSockLen)
    int nameLen = strlen(name);
    if (nameLen >= (int) sizeof(pAddr->sun_path) -1)  /* too long? */
        return -1;
    pAddr->sun_path[0] = '\0';  /* abstract namespace */
    strcpy(pAddr->sun_path+1, name);
    pAddr->sun_family = AF_LOCAL;
    *pSockLen = 1 + nameLen + offsetof(struct sockaddr_un, sun_path);
    return 0;

int main(int argc, char** argv)
    static const char* message = "hello, world!";
    struct sockaddr_un sockAddr;
    socklen_t sockLen;
    int result = 1;

    if (argc != 2 || (argv[1][0] != 'c' && argv[1][0] != 's')) {
        printf("Usage: {c|s}\n");
        return 2;

    if (makeAddr("com.whoever.xfer", &sockAddr, &sockLen) < 0)
        return 1;
    int fd = socket(AF_LOCAL, SOCK_STREAM, PF_UNIX);
    if (fd < 0) {
        perror("client socket()");
        return 1;

    if (argv[1][0] == 'c') {
        printf("CLIENT %s\n", sockAddr.sun_path+1);

        if (connect(fd, (const struct sockaddr*) &sockAddr, sockLen) < 0) {
            perror("client connect()");
            goto bail;
        if (write(fd, message, strlen(message)+1) < 0) {
            perror("client write()");
            goto bail;
    } else if (argv[1][0] == 's') {
        printf("SERVER %s\n", sockAddr.sun_path+1);
        if (bind(fd, (const struct sockaddr*) &sockAddr, sockLen) < 0) {
            perror("server bind()");
            goto bail;
        if (listen(fd, 5) < 0) {
            perror("server listen()");
            goto bail;
        int clientSock = accept(fd, NULL, NULL);
        if (clientSock < 0) {
            perror("server accept");
            goto bail;
        char buf[64];
        int count = read(clientSock, buf, sizeof(buf));
        if (count < 0) {
            perror("server read");
            goto bail;
        printf("GOT: '%s'\n", buf);
    result = 0;

    return result;
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