tcp - TCP protocol.
tcp_socket = socket(PF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, 0);
This is an implementation of the TCP protocol defined in RFC793,
RFC1122 and RFC2001 with the NewReno and SACK extensions. It provides
a reliable, stream oriented, full duplex connection between two sockets
on top of ip(7), for both v4 and v6 versions. TCP guarantees that the
data arrives in order and retransmits lost packets. It generates and
checks a per packet checksum to catch transmission errors. TCP does
not preserve record boundaries.
A fresh TCP socket has no remote or local address and is not fully
specified. To create an outgoing TCP connection use connect(2) to
establish a connection to another TCP socket. To receive new incoming
connections bind(2) the socket first to a local address and port and
then call listen(2) to put the socket into listening state. After that
a new socket for each incoming connection can be accepted using
accept(2). A socket which has had accept or connect successfully
called on it is fully specified and may transmit data. Data cannot be
transmitted on listening or not yet connected sockets.
Linux supports RFC1323 TCP high performance extensions. These include
Protection Against Wrapped Sequence Numbers (PAWS), Window Scaling and
Timestamps. Window scaling allows the use of large (> 64K) TCP windows
in order to support links with high latency or bandwidth. To make use
of them, the send and receive buffer sizes must be increased. They can
be set globally with the net.ipv4.tcp_wmem and net.ipv4.tcp_rmem sysctl
variables, or on individual sockets by using the SO_SNDBUF and
SO_RCVBUF socket options with the setsockopt(2) call.
The maximum sizes for socket buffers declared via the SO_SNDBUF and
SO_RCVBUF mechanisms are limited by the global net.core.rmem_max and
net.core.wmem_max sysctls. Note that TCP actually allocates twice the
size of the buffer requested in the setsockopt(2) call, and so a suc-
ceeding getsockopt(2) call will not return the same size of buffer as
requested in the setsockopt(2) call. TCP uses this for administrative
purposes and internal kernel structures, and the sysctl variables
reflect the larger sizes compared to the actual TCP windows. On indi-
vidual connections, the socket buffer size must be set prior to the
listen() or connect() calls in order to have it take effect. See
socket(7) for more information.
TCP supports urgent data. Urgent data is used to signal the receiver
that some important message is part of the data stream and that it
should be processed as soon as possible. To send urgent data specify
the MSG_OOB option to send(2). When urgent data is received, the ker-
nel sends a SIGURG signal to the reading process or the process or pro-
cess group that has been set for the socket using the SIOCSPGRP or
FIOSETOWN ioctls. When the SO_OOBINLINE socket option is enabled,
TCP is built on top of IP (see ip(7)). The address formats defined by
ip(7) apply to TCP. TCP only supports point-to-point communication;
broadcasting and multicasting are not supported.
These variables can be accessed by the /proc/sys/net/ipv4/* files or
with the sysctl(2) interface. In addition, most IP sysctls also apply
to TCP; see ip(7).
Enable resetting connections if the listening service is too
slow and unable to keep up and accept them. It is not enabled
by default. It means that if overflow occurred due to a burst,
the connection will recover. Enable this option _only_ if you
are really sure that the listening daemon cannot be tuned to
accept connections faster. Enabling this option can harm the
clients of your server.
Count buffering overhead as bytes/2^tcp_adv_win_scale (if
tcp_adv_win_scale > 0) or bytes-bytes/2^(-tcp_adv_win_scale), if
it is <= 0. The default is 2.
The socket receive buffer space is shared between the applica-
tion and kernel. TCP maintains part of the buffer as the TCP
window, this is the size of the receive window advertised to the
other end. The rest of the space is used as the "application"
buffer, used to isolate the network from scheduling and applica-
tion latencies. The tcp_adv_win_scale default value of 2
implies that the space used for the application buffer is one
fourth that of the total.
This variable defines how many bytes of the TCP window are
reserved for buffering overhead.
A maximum of (window/2^tcp_app_win, mss) bytes in the window are
reserved for the application buffer. A value of 0 implies that
no amount is reserved. The default value is 31.
Enable RFC2883 TCP Duplicate SACK support. It is enabled by
Enable RFC2884 Explicit Congestion Notification. It is not
enabled by default. When enabled, connectivity to some destina-
tions could be affected due to older, misbehaving routers along
the path causing connections to be dropped.
Enable TCP Forward Acknowledgement support. It is enabled by
The maximum number of TCP keep-alive probes to send before giv-
ing up and killing the connection if no response is obtained
from the other end. The default value is 9.
The number of seconds a connection needs to be idle before TCP
begins sending out keep-alive probes. Keep-alives are only sent
when the SO_KEEPALIVE socket option is enabled. The default
value is 7200 seconds (2 hours). An idle connection is termi-
nated after approximately an additional 11 minutes (9 probes an
interval of 75 seconds apart) when keep-alive is enabled.
Note that underlying connection tracking mechanisms and applica-
tion timeouts may be much shorter.
The maximum number of orphaned (not attached to any user file
handle) TCP sockets allowed in the system. When this number is
exceeded, the orphaned connection is reset and a warning is
printed. This limit exists only to prevent simple DoS attacks.
Lowering this limit is not recommended. Network conditions might
require you to increase the number of orphans allowed, but note
that each orphan can eat up to ~64K of unswappable memory. The
default initial value is set equal to the kernel parameter
NR_FILE. This initial default is adjusted depending on the mem-
ory in the system.
The maximum number of queued connection requests which have
still not received an acknowledgement from the connecting
client. If this number is exceeded, the kernel will begin drop-
ping requests. The default value of 256 is increased to 1024
when the memory present in the system is adequate or greater (>=
128Mb), and reduced to 128 for those systems with very low mem-
ory (<= 32Mb). It is recommended that if this needs to be
increased above 1024, TCP_SYNQ_HSIZE in include/net/tcp.h be
modifed to keep TCP_SYNQ_HSIZE*16<=tcp_max_syn_backlog, and the
kernel be recompiled.
The maximum number of sockets in TIME_WAIT state allowed in the
system. This limit exists only to prevent simple DoS attacks.
The default value of NR_FILE*2 is adjusted depending on the mem-
ory in the system. If this number is exceeded, the socket is
closed and a warning is printed.
This is a vector of 3 integers: [low, pressure, high]. These
bounds are used by TCP to track its memory usage. The defaults
are calculated at boot time from the amount of available memory.
low - TCP doesn't regulate its memory allocation when the number
of pages it has allocated globally is below this number.
pressure - when the amount of memory allocated by TCP exceeds
The maximum number of attempts made to probe the other end of a
connection which has been closed by our end. The default value
The maximum a packet can be reordered in a TCP packet stream
without TCP assuming packet loss and going into slow start. The
default is 3. It is not advisable to change this number. This
is a packet reordering detection metric designed to minimize
unnecessary back off and retransmits provoked by reordering of
packets on a connection.
Try to send full-sized packets during retransmit. This is
enabled by default.
The number of times TCP will attempt to retransmit a packet on
an established connection normally, without the extra effort of
getting the network layers involved. Once we exceed this number
of retransmits, we first have the network layer update the route
if possible before each new retransmit. The default is the RFC
specified minimum of 3.
The maximum number of times a TCP packet is retransmitted in
established state before giving up. The default value is 15,
which corresponds to a duration of aproximately between 13 to 30
minutes, depending on the retransmission timeout. The RFC1122
specified minimum limit of 100 seconds is typically deemed too
Enable TCP behaviour conformant with RFC 1337. This is not
enabled by default. When not enabled, if a RST is received in
TIME_WAIT state, we close the socket immediately without waiting
for the end of the TIME_WAIT period.
This is a vector of 3 integers: [min, default, max]. These
parameters are used by TCP to regulate receive buffer sizes.
TCP dynamically adjusts the size of the receive buffer from the
defaults listed below, in the range of these sysctl variables,
depending on memory available in the system.
min - minimum size of the receive buffer used by each TCP
socket. The default value is 4K, and is lowered to PAGE_SIZE
bytes in low memory systems. This value is used to ensure that
in memory pressure mode, allocations below this size will still
succeed. This is not used to bound the size of the receive
buffer declared using SO_RCVBUF on a socket.
default - the default size of the receive buffer for a TCP
socket. This value overwrites the initial default buffer size
from the generic global net.core.rmem_default defined for all
protocols. The default value is 87380 bytes, and is lowered to
43689 in low memory systems. If larger receive buffer sizes are
Enable RFC2018 TCP Selective Acknowledgements. It is enabled by
Enable the strict RFC793 interpretation of the TCP urgent-
pointer field. The default is to use the BSD-compatible inter-
pretation of the urgent-pointer, pointing to the first byte
after the urgent data. The RFC793 interpretation is to have it
point to the last byte of urgent data. Enabling this option may
lead to interoperatibility problems.
The maximum number of times a SYN/ACK segment for a passive TCP
connection will be retransmitted. This number should not be
higher than 255. The default value is 5.
Enable TCP syncookies. The kernel must be compiled with CON-
FIG_SYN_COOKIES. Send out syncookies when the syn backlog queue
of a socket overflows. The syncookies feature attempts to pro-
tect a socket from a SYN flood attack. This should be used as a
last resort, if at all. This is a violation of the TCP proto-
col, and conflicts with other areas of TCP such as TCP exten-
sions. It can cause problems for clients and relays. It is not
recommended as a tuning mechanism for heavily loaded servers to
help with overloaded or misconfigured conditions. For recom-
mended alternatives see tcp_max_syn_backlog, tcp_synack_retries,
The maximum number of times initial SYNs for an active TCP con-
nection attempt will be retransmitted. This value should not be
higher than 255. The default value is 5, which corresponds to
approximately 180 seconds.
Enable RFC1323 TCP timestamps. This is enabled by default.
Enable fast recycling of TIME-WAIT sockets. It is not enabled
by default. Enabling this option is not recommended since this
causes problems when working with NAT (Network Address Transla-
Enable RFC1323 TCP window scaling. It is enabled by default.
This feature allows the use of a large window (> 64K) on a TCP
connection, should the other end support it. Normally, the 16
bit window length field in the TCP header limits the window size
to less than 64K bytes. If larger windows are desired, applica-
tions can increase the size of their socket buffers and the win-
dow scaling option will be employed. If tcp_window_scaling is
disabled, TCP will not negotiate the use of window scaling with
the other end during connection setup.
The default value is 4K bytes. This value is used to ensure
that in memory pressure mode, allocations below this size will
still succeed. This is not used to bound the size of the send
buffer declared using SO_RCVBUF on a socket.
default - the default size of the send buffer for a TCP socket.
This value overwrites the initial default buffer size from the
generic global net.core.wmem_default defined for all protocols.
The default value is 16K bytes. If larger send buffer sizes are
desired, this value should be increased (to affect all sockets).
To employ large TCP windows, the sysctl variable
net.ipv4.tcp_window_scaling must be enabled (default).
max - the maximum size of the send buffer used by each TCP
socket. This value does not override the global
net.core.wmem_max. This is not used to limit the size of the
send buffer declared using SO_RCVBUF on a socket. The default
value is 128K bytes. It is lowered to 64K depending on the mem-
ory available in the system.
To set or get a TCP socket option, call getsockopt(2) to read or set-
sockopt(2) to write the option with the option level argument set to
SOL_TCP. In addition, most SOL_IP socket options are valid on TCP
sockets. For more information see ip(7).
If set, don't send out partial frames. All queued partial
frames are sent when the option is cleared again. This is use-
ful for prepending headers before calling sendfile(2), or for
throughput optimization. This option cannot be combined with
TCP_NODELAY. This option should not be used in code intended to
Allows a listener to be awakened only when data arrives on the
socket. Takes an integer value (seconds), this can bound the
maximum number of attempts TCP will make to complete the connec-
tion. This option should not be used in code intended to be
Used to collect information about this socket. The kernel
returns a struct tcp_info as defined in the file
/usr/include/linux/tcp.h. This option should not be used in
code intended to be portable.
The maximum number of keepalive probes TCP should send before
dropping the connection. This option should not be used in code
intended to be portable.
The time (in seconds) the connection needs to remain idle before
TCP starts sending keepalive probes, if the socket option
SO_KEEPALIVE has been set on this socket. This option should
not be used in code intended to be portable.
level option SO_LINGER. This option should not be used in code
intended to be portable.
The maximum segment size for outgoing TCP packets. If this
option is set before connection establishment, it also changes
the MSS value announced to the other end in the initial packet.
Values greater than the (eventual) interface MTU have no effect.
TCP will also impose its minimum and maximum bounds over the
If set, disable the Nagle algorithm. This means that segments
are always sent as soon as possible, even if there is only a
small amount of data. When not set, data is buffered until
there is a sufficient amount to send out, thereby avoiding the
frequent sending of small packets, which results in poor uti-
lization of the network. This option cannot be used at the same
time as the option TCP_CORK.
Enable quickack mode if set or disable quickack mode if cleared.
In quickack mode, acks are sent immediately, rather than delayed
if needed in accordance to normal TCP operation. This flag is
not permanent, it only enables a switch to or from quickack
mode. Subsequent operation of the TCP protocol will once again
enter/leave quickack mode depending on internal protocol pro-
cessing and factors such as delayed ack timeouts occurring and
data transfer. This option should not be used in code intended
to be portable.
Set the number of SYN retransmits that TCP should send before
aborting the attempt to connect. It cannot exceed 255. This
option should not be used in code intended to be portable.
Bound the size of the advertised window to this value. The ker-
nel imposes a minimum size of SOCK_MIN_RCVBUF/2. This option
should not be used in code intended to be portable.
These ioctls can be accessed using ioctl(2). The correct syntax is:
error = ioctl(tcp_socket, ioctl_type, &value);
Returns the amount of queued unread data in the receive buffer.
Argument is a pointer to an integer. The socket must not be in
LISTEN state, otherwise an error (EINVAL) is returned.
Returns true when the all urgent data has been already received
by the user program. This is used together with SO_OOBINLINE.
Argument is an pointer to an integer for the test result.
Some applications require a quicker error notification. This can be
enabled with the SOL_IP level IP_RECVERR socket option. When this
option is enabled, all incoming errors are immediately passed to the
user program. Use this option with care - it makes TCP less tolerant
to routing changes and other normal network conditions.
When an error occurs doing a connection setup occurring in a socket
write SIGPIPE is only raised when the SO_KEEPALIVE socket option is
TCP has no real out-of-band data; it has urgent data. In Linux this
means if the other end sends newer out-of-band data the older urgent
data is inserted as normal data into the stream (even when SO_OOBINLINE
is not set). This differs from BSD based stacks.
Linux uses the BSD compatible interpretation of the urgent pointer
field by default. This violates RFC1122, but is required for interop-
erability with other stacks. It can be changed by the tcp_stdurg
EPIPE The other end closed the socket unexpectedly or a read is exe-
cuted on a shut down socket.
The other end didn't acknowledge retransmitted data after some
Passed socket address type in sin_family was not AF_INET.
Any errors defined for ip(7) or the generic socket layer may also be
returned for TCP.
Not all errors are documented.
IPv6 is not described.
Support for Explicit Congestion Notification, zerocopy sendfile,
reordering support and some SACK extensions (DSACK) were introduced in
2.4. Support for forward acknowledgement (FACK), TIME_WAIT recycling,
per connection keepalive socket options and sysctls were introduced in
The default values and descriptions for the sysctl variables given
above are applicable for the 2.4 kernel.
This man page was originally written by Andi Kleen. It was updated for
2.4 by Nivedita Singhvi with input from Alexey Kuznetsov's Documenta-
socket(7), socket(2), ip(7), bind(2), listen(2), accept(2), connect(2),
RFC2018 and RFC2883 for SACK and extensions to SACK.
Linux Man Page 2002-04-20 tcp(7)