Named Pipe


A Named Pipe, in technology terms, is a method of inter-process communication (IPC) used in Unix, Linux, and Windows systems. It allows two or more processes running on the same machine to communicate with each other by exchanging data. Named Pipes are bidirectional, meaning they can send and receive information, similar to a telephone conversation.


The phonetics of “Named Pipe” is: /neɪmd paɪp/

Key Takeaways

<ol><li>Named Pipe is a strategy employed in interprocess communication. It’s a technology that allows one process to communicate with another, whether they’re on the same machine or across the network. Named Pipes work by offering a one-way or duplex pipe for communication, allowing data to flow securely from one process to another.</li><li>Named Pipes are unique because they are thread-safe, which means that multiple processes can write to the same pipe without data corruption. This makes it a suitable communication technique for multi-threaded programs.</li><li>Another significant characteristic of Named Pipes is their persistence. Unlike anonymous pipes, Named Pipes are not deleted once they are closed. They can continue to exist in the system until they are explicitly deleted, making them valuable for processes that require constant or regular connection.</li></ol>


Named Pipe is a crucial concept in computer technology that reflects an element of Inter-Process Communication (IPC), allowing data exchange between processes running on the same machine or across a network. The importance of named pipes stems from their ability to establish a bi-directional communication channel, creating a pipeline for different processes to communicate simultaneously. This form of communication is reliable and efficient as it prevents the interruption of data flow, especially in client-server architecture. Named pipes use memory resources, which makes them comparatively faster than other communication forms, such as those using disk drives. Their ability to handle multiple instances at the same time makes them highly effective for a wide array of applications in operating systems, network communication, parallel computing, and more.


Named Pipe, often referred to as a FIFO (First In, First Out), serves as a crucial technology in facilitating inter-process communications within a computer or between computers in a network. Its main purpose is to provide a channel that enables processes to communicate with each other without having to use network protocols; this is particularly valuable in instances where such protocols may not be ideal due to latency issues, especially in high-performance computing environments. Simple to establish and operate, named pipes come in handy for programs that need to exchange data in real-time. Named pipes can facilitate communications either within the same system or across different ones. One of the common applications of named pipes is during the operation of a client-server model, where the server creates a named pipe that clients can connect to share data securely or to send requests. This can be seen in many applications today, ranging from databases to multi-user chat applications. In each case, the named pipe allows for data exchange and communication in a safe, efficient, and manageable manner, handling complex tasks and providing reliable data transmission.


1. Inter-Process Communication (IPC): Named pipes are often used in IPC, as they allow unrelated processes to exchange data in a direct and secure manner. For example, a common real-world application of named pipes is in a client-server model where the server creates a named pipe that can be accessed by any client process, facilitating secure data transfer.2. Database Management Systems: Named pipes are used in DBMS such as MySQL or SQL Server. For instance, in SQL Server, ‘Named Pipes’ is one of the network protocols used for communication between the SQL Server Database Engine and the clients and is particularly useful in scenarios where the server and client are running on the same computer.3. Operating Systems: Many operating systems such as Unix/Linux and Windows use named pipes for various system-level tasks. For example, the Windows operating system uses named pipes for communication between the print spooler and a printer. In Unix/Linux, named pipes are used extensively in shell scripting, allowing the output of one command to be passed as input to another (known as pipe lining), thereby creating efficient scripts and processes.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

**Q1: What is a Named Pipe?**A1: A NamedPipe is a technology term that refers to a method of inter-process communication in Unix, Linux, and Windows. It allows communication between a server process and a client process, usually on the same computer.**Q2: How does a Named Pipe work?**A2: Named pipes work similar to regular files in a file system. Data written to the pipe by the server process can be read by the client process and vice versa. The communication can either be unidirectional or bidirectional.**Q3: In which scenarios are Named Pipes used?**A3: Named pipes are typically used in scenarios where two processes, potentially of different privilege levels, need to safely and efficiently pass messages back and forth.**Q4: How do Named Pipes compare with Anonymous Pipes?**A4: Unlike anonymous pipes that provide one-way communication and are typically used with related processes, Named Pipes provide two-way communication and can be used between unrelated processes and between local or remote computers.**Q5: Are Named Pipes secure?**A5: Yes, named pipes are secure. You can set permissions on a named pipe to restrict which users or groups can read from or write to a named pipe. However, as with any IPC mechanism, its security relies largely on how it’s implemented and used.**Q6: What are the benefits of using Named Pipes?**A6: Some benefits of using named pipes include bidirectional communication, network transparency, and the ability to handle multiple instances of communication between different processes. This also allows for efficient system resources usage.**Q7: Can Named Pipes be used for network communication instead of Sockets?**A7: Yes, named pipes can be used for network communication. However, the use of sockets is generally more common and versatile for network communication, particularly for non-Windows systems, and across disparate systems. **Q8: How do we create a Named Pipe?**A8: In Unix or Linux, a named pipe can be created using the ‘mkfifo’ command. In Windows, the ‘CreateNamedPipe’ function is used to create a named pipe.

Related Tech Terms


  • Interprocess Communication (IPC)
  • FIFO (First-In, First-Out)
  • Pipe
  • Thread Synchronization
  • Message Queue


Sources for More Information

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