Networking and Socket programming Tutorial on C

This article is welcome for the programmer with following requirement.


Before start learning socket programming make sure you already have certain basic knowledge

to network such as understand what is IP address, TCP, UDP.

Before we started our tutorial, keep it mind that following tutorial is only worked on LINUX OS environment. If you are using window, I have to apologize to you because window have it own socket programming and it is different from Linux even though the connection concept is same.

Well, first copy and paste the following code and run it on server and client respectively.

Both code can be done on same computer.

There is always easy to be understand after getting the things works.



#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
int main(void)
  int listenfd = 0,connfd = 0;
  struct sockaddr_in serv_addr;
  char sendBuff[1025];  
  int numrv;  
  listenfd = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, 0);
  printf("socket retrieve success\n");
  memset(&amp;serv_addr, '0', sizeof(serv_addr));
  memset(sendBuff, '0', sizeof(sendBuff));
  serv_addr.sin_family = AF_INET;    
  serv_addr.sin_addr.s_addr = htonl(INADDR_ANY); 
  serv_addr.sin_port = htons(5000);    
  bind(listenfd, (struct sockaddr*)&amp;serv_addr,sizeof(serv_addr));
  if(listen(listenfd, 10) == -1){
      printf("Failed to listen\n");
      return -1;
      connfd = accept(listenfd, (struct sockaddr*)NULL ,NULL); // accept awaiting request
      strcpy(sendBuff, "Message from server");
      write(connfd, sendBuff, strlen(sendBuff));
  return 0;


#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/types.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <string.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <unistd.h>
#include <errno.h>
#include <arpa/inet.h>
int main(void)
  int sockfd = 0,n = 0;
  char recvBuff[1024];
  struct sockaddr_in serv_addr;
  memset(recvBuff, '0' ,sizeof(recvBuff));
  if((sockfd = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, 0))&lt; 0)
      printf("\n Error : Could not create socket \n");
      return 1;
  serv_addr.sin_family = AF_INET;
  serv_addr.sin_port = htons(5000);
  serv_addr.sin_addr.s_addr = inet_addr("");
  if(connect(sockfd, (struct sockaddr *)&amp;serv_addr, sizeof(serv_addr))&lt;0)
      printf("\n Error : Connect Failed \n");
      return 1;
  while((n = read(sockfd, recvBuff, sizeof(recvBuff)-1)) &gt; 0)
      recvBuff[n] = 0;
      if(fputs(recvBuff, stdout) == EOF)
      printf("\n Error : Fputs error");
  if( n &lt; 0)
      printf("\n Read Error \n");
  return 0;

After debug both source file, run Socket-server.out, then run Socket-client. Attention here, never mess up with the order of execute Socket-server.out and Socket-client. Socket-server must be executed first then execute Socket-client.out and never tried to break Socket-server forever loop. It means, you need to open two terminal to run each of the output.

When you execute Socket-cli, I guess you will get the result as following.



If you see the message above. Congratulations, you have success with your first step to networking programming. Otherwise, do some checking on your develop environment or tried to do some simple code for instance hello world.

WHY both server and client is happened on same computer?

The answer is server and client both are software but not hardware. It means what happening on the top is there are two different software are executed. Be more precise, server and client are two different process with different work. If you are experienced with constructing server you might find out that server can be built on home computer by install server OS. It is because, server is a kind of software.

Understand what is socket

Imagine socket as a seaport that allow the ship to unload and gather their shipping, where socket is the place where computer gather and put the data into internet.


Configure Socket

Things that need to be initialized are listed as following

  1. Using TCP or UDP
  2. Additional protocol
  3. Permit the incoming IP address
  4. Assign the port used

At the beginning, socket function need to be declared to get socket descriptor.

int socket(int domain, int type, int protocol);
Domain AF_UNIX – connect inside same machine

AF_INET – connect with different machine

Type SOCK_STREAM – TCP connection

SOCK_DGRAM – UDP connection

Protocol Define here when there is any additional protocol. Otherwise, define it as 0

Next, decide which struct needs to be used based on what domain used on above.

struct sockaddr_un


sa_family_t sun_family;

char sun_path[];



struct sockaddr_in


short int sin_family;

int sin_port;

struct in_addr sin_addr;


Use struct sockaddr_un if you are using AF_UNIX on your domain.

It is required to include

Use struct sockaddr_in if you are using AF_INT on your domain.

On this article, I will explain sockadd_in that showed on the code above.

serv_addr.sin_family = AF_INET; Define the domain used
serv_addr.sin_addr.s_addr = htonl(INADDR_ANY); Permit any incoming IP address by declare INADDR_ANY
serv_addr.sin_port = htons(5000); Declare port 5000 to be used.

Based on example above, server is using port 5000. You can check it by following command

sudo netstat -ntlp

Then, you will see following list


Inside red bracket, you will found and Socket-server, it means port 5000 is used and listen to any valid incoming address.

On client side, client should also listen to port 5000 as server is using port 5000.  Client side script must also declared in this way, serv_addr.sin_port = htons(5000).

The flow chart below shows the interaction between client and server. The flow chart might looks complicated but make sure you don’t lost your patient due to the following flow chart. Because every process on the flow chart is needed and it acts a very important roles on network connection.


After all setup on struct sockaddr_in is done, declare bind function. As flow chart, bind function must be declared on both server and client.

bind function

server_socket & client_socket Put socket description retrieved on the top
address Put struct sockaddr_in into it as domain is AF_INET. If your domain is AF_UNIX, tried put struct sockaddr_un here.
address_len Put the length of the address

Server and client will start interact with each other after the bind function and it is the most important session. From what flow chart shows, listen, accept, connect, three function play a very important roles.

Imagine that server looks like an ATM, and only one person can be used the ATM. So, what happen if there is 2 or more people come at one time? The answer is simple, lining up and wait the front people finished using with ATM. It is exactly same as what happening in server.

Listen function acts as waiting room, asking the traffic wait on the waiting room. Accept function acts as person who asking the traffic waiting inside the waiting room to be ready for the meeting between server. Last, connect function acts as the person who want to carry out some work with server.

listen function

server_socket Put socket description retrieved on the top
backlog Define the maximum of awaiting request

accept function

server_socket Put socket description retrieved on the top
client_address Put null here if there is no any special request to specify address.
address_len Put null here if second parameter is null
return Return information of client socket description. Use it for interact between client and server.

connect function

client_socket Put socket description retrieved on the top
address Put the struct sockaddr defined on the top
address_len Put the length of the address

Finally, after the request accepted. What should server and client do is send and read data. It is the most simple part in whole of this article. read function used to read the buffer data and write function used to send the data. That’s all.

read function

socket_description Put server or client socket description depend on reading data from server or client
read buffer Content of the data retrieved
read buffer length Length of the output string

write function

socket_description Put server or client socket description depend on sending data to server or client
write buffer Data to be send
write buffer length Length of the output string


Personal Comment

This article was publish on 2013/5/1 and I was still new to networking programming on this period. Maybe there is some point that I am not make clear enough, I have tried all of my best to present all my knowledge to this article. Hope you can get the good basic beginning over here. Thank you.

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8 thoughts on “Networking and Socket programming Tutorial on C

  1. Hey, you should correct this: “On client side, serv_addr.sin_port = htons( is declared in order to listen internal network.”.

    Btw, this is nice tut, I just completed read and do follow it. Do you recommend some books or guides about network programing?. I just look UNIX Network Programming(Richard Stevens) but It seem fairly thick.


    • Thank you for reading the blog. Can you be more detail on any problems with that line.

      About reference books, it depends on your needs. If you are building an application that working online, it is better to googling instead of buying book. If you are interesting in internet system, you should get the books talking about fundamental of TCP/IP model instead of network programming.


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