Section: Linux Programmer's Manual (7)
POSIX message queues allow processes to exchange data in the form of messages. This API is distinct from that provided by System V message queues (msgget?(2), msgsnd?(2), msgrcv?(2), etc.), but provides similar functionality.
Message queues are created and opened using mq_open?(3); this function returns a message queue descriptor (mqd_t), which is used to refer to the open message queue in later calls. Each message queue is identified by a name of the form /somename; that is, a null-terminated string of up to NAME_MAX (i.e., 255) characters consisting of an initial slash, followed by one or more characters, none of which are slashes. Two processes can operate on the same queue by passing the same name to mq_open?(3).
Messages are transferred to and from a queue using mq_send?(3) and mq_receive?(3). When a process has finished using the queue, it closes it using mq_close?(3), and when the queue is no longer required, it can be deleted using mq_unlink?(3). Queue attributes can be retrieved and (in some cases) modified using mq_getattr?(3) and mq_setattr?(3). A process can request asynchronous notification of the arrival of a message on a previously empty queue using mq_notify?(3).
A message queue descriptor is a reference to an open message queue description (cf. open?(2)). After a fork?(2), a child inherits copies of its parent's message queue descriptors, and these descriptors refer to the same open message queue descriptions as the corresponding descriptors in the parent. Corresponding descriptors in the two processes share the flags (mq_flags) that are associated with the open message queue description.
Each message has an associated priority, and messages are always delivered to the receiving process highest priority first. Message priorities range from 0 (low) to sysconf(_SC_MQ_PRIO_MAX) - 1 (high). On Linux, sysconf(_SC_MQ_PRIO_MAX) returns 32768, but POSIX.1-2001 requires only that an implementation support at least priorities in the range 0 to 31; some implementations provide only this range.
Library interfaces and system calls
In most cases the mq_*() library interfaces listed above are implemented on top of underlying system calls of the same name. Deviations from this scheme are indicated in the following table:
:<TABLE> <TR VALIGN="top| <TD CLASS="c1|Library interface</TD> <TD>System call
</TD> </TR> </TABLE> :
The following interfaces can be used to limit the amount of kernel memory consumed by POSIX message queues and to set the default attributes for new message queues:
- /proc/sys/fs/mqueue/msg_default (since Linux 3.5)
- This file defines the value used for a new queue's mq_maxmsg setting when the queue is created with a call to mq_open?(3) where attr is specified as NULL. The default value for this file is 10. The minimum and maximum are as for /proc/sys/fs/mqueue/msg_max. A new queue's default mq_maxmsg value will be the smaller of msg_default and msg_max. Up until Linux 2.6.28, the default mq_maxmsg was 10; from Linux 2.6.28 to Linux 3.4, the default was the value defined for the msg_max limit.:
- This file can be used to view and change the ceiling value for the maximum number of messages in a queue. This value acts as a ceiling on the attr->mq_maxmsg argument given to mq_open?(3). The default value for msg_max is 10. The minimum value is 1 (10 in kernels before 2.6.28). The upper limit is HARD_MSGMAX. The msg_max limit is ignored for privileged processes (CAP_SYS_RESOURCE), but the HARD_MSGMAX ceiling is nevertheless imposed.
The definition of HARD_MSGMAX has changed across kernel versions:
- Up to Linux 2.6.32: 131072 / sizeof(void *):
- Linux 2.6.33 to 3.4: (32768 * sizeof(void *) / 4):
- Since Linux 3.5: 65,536:
- /proc/sys/fs/mqueue/msgsize_default (since Linux 3.5)
- This file defines the value used for a new queue's mq_msgsize setting when the queue is created with a call to mq_open?(3) where attr is specified as NULL. The default value for this file is 8192 (bytes). The minimum and maximum are as for /proc/sys/fs/mqueue/msgsize_max. If msgsize_default exceeds msgsize_max, a new queue's default mq_msgsize value is capped to the msgsize_max limit. Up until Linux 2.6.28, the default mq_msgsize was 8192; from Linux 2.6.28 to Linux 3.4, the default was the value defined for the msgsize_max limit.:
- This file can be used to view and change the ceiling on the maximum message size. This value acts as a ceiling on the attr->mq_msgsize argument given to mq_open?(3). The default value for msgsize_max is 8192 bytes. The minimum value is 128 (8192 in kernels before 2.6.28). The upper limit for msgsize_max has varied across kernel versions:
- Before Linux 2.6.28, the upper limit is INT_MAX.:
- From Linux 2.6.28 to 3.4, the limit is 1,048,576.:
- Since Linux 3.5, the limit is 16,777,216 (HARD_MSGSIZEMAX).:
- The msgsize_max limit is ignored for privileged process (CAP_SYS_RESOURCE), but, since Linux 3.5, the HARD_MSGSIZEMAX ceiling is enforced for privileged processes.
- This file can be used to view and change the system-wide limit on the number of message queues that can be created. The default value for queues_max is 256. No ceiling is imposed on the queues_max limit; privileged processes (CAP_SYS_RESOURCE) can exceed the limit (but see BUGS).:
Mounting the message queue filesystem
On Linux, message queues are created in a virtual filesystem. (Other implementations may also provide such a feature, but the details are likely to differ.) This filesystem can be mounted (by the superuser) using the following commands:
- mkdir /dev/mqueue
- mount -t mqueue none /dev/mqueue
The sticky bit is automatically enabled on the mount directory.
The contents of each file in the directory consist of a single line containing information about the queue:
$ cat /dev/mqueue/mymq QSIZE:129 NOTIFY:2 SIGNO:0 NOTIFY_PID:8260
These fields are as follows:
- Number of bytes of data in all messages in the queue.:
- If this is nonzero, then the process with this PID has used mq_notify?(3) to register for asynchronous message notification, and the remaining fields describe how notification occurs.:
- Notification method: 0 is SIGEV_SIGNAL; 1 is SIGEV_NONE; and 2 is SIGEV_THREAD.:
- Signal number to be used for SIGEV_SIGNAL.:
Polling message queue descriptors
System V message queues (msgget?(2), msgsnd?(2), msgrcv?(2), etc.) are an older API for exchanging messages between processes. POSIX message queues provide a better designed interface than System V message queues; on the other hand POSIX message queues are less widely available (especially on older systems) than System V message queues.
In Linux versions 3.5 to 3.14, the kernel imposed a ceiling of 1024 (HARD_QUEUESMAX) on the value to which the queues_max limit could be raised, and the ceiling was enforced even for privileged processes. This ceiling value was removed in Linux 3.14, and patches to stable kernels 3.5.x to 3.13.x also removed the ceiling.
This page is part of release 3.74 of the Linux man-pages project. A description of the project, information about reporting bugs, and the latest version of this page, can be found at http://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.