TCP(7) Linux Programmer's Manual TCP(7)NAMEtcp - TCP protocol
tcp_socket = socket(AF_INET, SOCK_STREAM, 0);
This is an implementation of the TCP protocol defined in RFC 793,
RFC 1122 and RFC 2001 with the NewReno and SACK extensions. It pro‐
vides 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 gener‐
ates and checks a per-packet checksum to catch transmission errors.
TCP does not preserve record boundaries.
A newly created 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 incom‐
ing connections, first bind(2) the socket to a local address and port
and then call listen(2) to put the socket into the listening state.
After that a new socket for each incoming connection can be accepted
using accept(2). A socket which has had accept(2) or connect(2) suc‐
cessfully called on it is fully specified and may transmit data. Data
cannot be transmitted on listening or not yet connected sockets.
Linux supports RFC 1323 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 /proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_wmem and
/proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_rmem files, 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 values in the
/proc/sys/net/core/rmem_max and /proc/sys/net/core/wmem_max files.
Note that TCP actually allocates twice the size of the buffer requested
in the setsockopt(2) call, and so a succeeding getsockopt(2) call will
not return the same size of buffer as requested in the setsockopt(2)
call. TCP uses the extra space for administrative purposes and inter‐
nal kernel structures, and the /proc file values reflect the larger
sizes compared to the actual TCP windows. On individual connections,
the socket buffer size must be set prior to the listen(2) or connect(2)
calls in order to have it take effect. See socket(7) for more informa‐
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 process or process group that has been
set as the socket "owner" using the SIOCSPGRP or FIOSETOWN ioctls (or
the POSIX.1-2001-specified fcntl(2) F_SETOWN operation). When the
SO_OOBINLINE socket option is enabled, urgent data is put into the nor‐
mal data stream (a program can test for its location using the SIOCAT‐
MARK ioctl described below), otherwise it can be only received when the
MSG_OOB flag is set for recv(2) or recvmsg(2).
Linux 2.4 introduced a number of changes for improved throughput and
scaling, as well as enhanced functionality. Some of these features
include support for zero-copy sendfile(2), Explicit Congestion Notifi‐
cation, new management of TIME_WAIT sockets, keep-alive socket options
and support for Duplicate SACK extensions.
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.
System-wide TCP parameter settings can be accessed by files in the
directory /proc/sys/net/ipv4/. In addition, most IP /proc interfaces
also apply to TCP; see ip(7). Variables described as Boolean take an
integer value, with a non-zero value ("true") meaning that the corre‐
sponding option is enabled, and a zero value ("false") meaning that the
option is disabled.
tcp_abc (Integer; default: 0; since Linux 2.6.15)
Controls the Appropriate Byte Count (ABC), defined in RFC 3465.
ABC is a way of increasing the congestion window (cwnd) more
slowly in response to partial acknowledgments. Possible values
0 increase cwnd once per acknowledgment (no ABC)
1 increase cwnd once per acknowledgment of full sized segment
2 allow increase cwnd by two if acknowledgment is of two seg‐
ments to compensate for delayed acknowledgments.
tcp_abort_on_overflow (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux 2.4)
Enable resetting connections if the listening service is too
slow and unable to keep up and accept them. 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 listen‐
ing daemon cannot be tuned to accept connections faster.
Enabling this option can harm the clients of your server.
tcp_adv_win_scale (integer; default: 2; since Linux 2.4)
Count buffering overhead as bytes/2^tcp_adv_win_scale, if
tcp_adv_win_scale is greater than 0; or bytes-
bytes/2^(-tcp_adv_win_scale), if tcp_adv_win_scale is less than
or equal to zero.
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.
tcp_allowed_congestion_control (String; default: see text; since Linux
Show/set the congestion control choices available to non-privi‐
leged processes (see the description of the TCP_CONGESTION
socket option). The list is a subset of those listed in
tcp_available_congestion_control. The default value for this
list is "reno" plus the default setting of tcp_congestion_con‐
tcp_available_congestion_control (String; read-only; since Linux
Shows a list of the congestion-control algorithms that are reg‐
istered. This list is a limiting set for the list in
tcp_allowed_congestion_control. More congestion-control algo‐
rithms may be available as modules, but not loaded.
tcp_app_win (integer; default: 31; since Linux 2.4)
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.
tcp_base_mss (Integer; default: 512; since Linux 2.6.17)
The initial value of search_low to be used by the packetization
layer Path MTU discovery (MTU probing). If MTU probing is
enabled, this is the initial MSS used by the connection.
tcp_bic (Boolean; default: disabled; Linux 2.4.27/2.6.6 to 2.6.13)
Enable BIC TCP congestion control algorithm. BIC-TCP is a
sender-side only change that ensures a linear RTT fairness under
large windows while offering both scalability and bounded TCP-
friendliness. The protocol combines two schemes called additive
increase and binary search increase. When the congestion window
is large, additive increase with a large increment ensures lin‐
ear RTT fairness as well as good scalability. Under small con‐
gestion windows, binary search increase provides TCP friendli‐
tcp_bic_low_window (integer; default: 14; Linux 2.4.27/2.6.6 to 2.6.13)
Sets the threshold window (in packets) where BIC TCP starts to
adjust the congestion window. Below this threshold BIC TCP
behaves the same as the default TCP Reno.
tcp_bic_fast_convergence (Boolean; default: enabled; Linux 2.4.27/2.6.6
Forces BIC TCP to more quickly respond to changes in congestion
window. Allows two flows sharing the same connection to con‐
verge more rapidly.
tcp_congestion_control (String; default: enabled; since Linux 2.4.13)
Set the default congestion-control algorithm to be used for new
connections. The algorithm "reno" is always available, but
additional choices may be available depending on kernel configu‐
ration. The default value for this file is set as part of ker‐
tcp_dma_copybreak (integer; default: 4096; since Linux 2.6.24)
Lower limit, in bytes, of the size of socket reads that will be
offloaded to a DMA copy engine, if one is present in the system
and the kernel was configured with the CONFIG_NET_DMA option.
tcp_dsack (Boolean; default: enabled; since Linux 2.4)
Enable RFC 2883 TCP Duplicate SACK support.
tcp_ecn (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux 2.4)
Enable RFC 2884 Explicit Congestion Notification. When enabled,
connectivity to some destinations could be affected due to
older, misbehaving routers along the path causing connections to
tcp_fack (Boolean; default: enabled; since Linux 2.2)
Enable TCP Forward Acknowledgement support.
tcp_fin_timeout (integer; default: 60; since Linux 2.2)
This specifies how many seconds to wait for a final FIN packet
before the socket is forcibly closed. This is strictly a viola‐
tion of the TCP specification, but required to prevent denial-
of-service attacks. In Linux 2.2, the default value was 180.
tcp_frto (integer; default: 0; since Linux 2.4.21/2.6)
Enables F-RTO, an enhanced recovery algorithm for TCP retrans‐
mission timeouts (RTOs). It is particularly beneficial in wire‐
less environments where packet loss is typically due to random
radio interference rather than intermediate router congestion.
See RFC 4138 for more details.
This file can have one of the following values:
1 The basic version F-RTO algorithm is enabled.
2 Enable SACK-enhanced F-RTO if flow uses SACK. The basic ver‐
sion can be used also when SACK is in use though in that case
scenario(s) exists where F-RTO interacts badly with the
packet counting of the SACK-enabled TCP flow.
Before Linux 2.6.22, this parameter was a Boolean value, sup‐
porting just values 0 and 1 above.
tcp_frto_response (integer; default: 0; since Linux 2.6.22)
When F-RTO has detected that a TCP retransmission timeout was
spurious (i.e, the timeout would have been avoided had TCP set a
longer retransmission timeout), TCP has several options concern‐
ing what to do next. Possible values are:
0 Rate halving based; a smooth and conservative response,
results in halved congestion window (cwnd) and slow-start
threshold (ssthresh) after one RTT.
1 Very conservative response; not recommended because even
though being valid, it interacts poorly with the rest of
Linux TCP; halves cwnd and ssthresh immediately.
2 Aggressive response; undoes congestion-control measures that
are now known to be unnecessary (ignoring the possibility of
a lost retransmission that would require TCP to be more cau‐
tious); cwnd and ssthresh are restored to the values prior to
tcp_keepalive_intvl (integer; default: 75; since Linux 2.4)
The number of seconds between TCP keep-alive probes.
tcp_keepalive_probes (integer; default: 9; since Linux 2.2)
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.
tcp_keepalive_time (integer; default: 7200; since Linux 2.2)
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.
tcp_low_latency (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux 2.4.21/2.6)
If enabled, the TCP stack makes decisions that prefer lower
latency as opposed to higher throughput. It this option is dis‐
abled, then higher throughput is preferred. An example of an
application where this default should be changed would be a
Beowulf compute cluster.
tcp_max_orphans (integer; default: see below; since Linux 2.4)
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 denial-of-
service attacks. Lowering this limit is not recommended. Net‐
work 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 memory in the system.
tcp_max_syn_backlog (integer; default: see below; since Linux 2.2)
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
modified to keep TCP_SYNQ_HSIZE*16<=tcp_max_syn_backlog, and the
kernel be recompiled.
tcp_max_tw_buckets (integer; default: see below; since Linux 2.4)
The maximum number of sockets in TIME_WAIT state allowed in the
system. This limit exists only to prevent simple denial-of-ser‐
vice attacks. The default value of NR_FILE*2 is adjusted
depending on the memory in the system. If this number is
exceeded, the socket is closed and a warning is printed.
tcp_moderate_rcvbuf (Boolean; default: enabled; since Linux
If enabled, TCP performs receive buffer auto-tuning, attempting
to automatically size the buffer (no greater than tcp_rmem)
to match the size required by the path for full throughput.
tcp_mem (since Linux 2.4)
This is a vector of 3 integers: [low, pressure, high]. These
bounds, measured in units of the system page size, are used by
TCP to track its memory usage. The defaults are calculated at
boot time from the amount of available memory. (TCP can only
use low memory for this, which is limited to around 900
megabytes on 32-bit systems. 64-bit systems do not suffer this
low TCP doesn't regulate its memory allocation when the
number of pages it has allocated globally is below
pressure When the amount of memory allocated by TCP exceeds
this number of pages, TCP moderates its memory con‐
sumption. This memory pressure state is exited once
the number of pages allocated falls below the low
high The maximum number of pages, globally, that TCP will
allocate. This value overrides any other limits
imposed by the kernel.
tcp_mtu_probing (integer; default: 0; since Linux 2.6.17)
This parameter controls TCP Packetization-Layer Path MTU Discov‐
ery. The following values may be assigned to the file:
1 Disabled by default, enabled when an ICMP black hole detected
2 Always enabled, use initial MSS of tcp_base_mss.
tcp_no_metrics_save (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux 2.6.6)
By default, TCP saves various connection metrics in the route
cache when the connection closes, so that connections estab‐
lished in the near future can use these to set initial condi‐
tions. Usually, this increases overall performance, but it may
sometimes cause performance degradation. If tcp_no_metrics_save
is enabled, TCP will not cache metrics on closing connections.
tcp_orphan_retries (integer; default: 8; since Linux 2.4)
The maximum number of attempts made to probe the other end of a
connection which has been closed by our end.
tcp_reordering (integer; default: 3; since Linux 2.4)
The maximum a packet can be reordered in a TCP packet stream
without TCP assuming packet loss and going into slow start. 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
tcp_retrans_collapse (Boolean; default: enabled; since Linux 2.2)
Try to send full-sized packets during retransmit.
tcp_retries1 (integer; default: 3; since Linux 2.2)
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.
tcp_retries2 (integer; default: 15; since Linux 2.2)
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 approximately between 13 to
30 minutes, depending on the retransmission timeout. The
RFC 1122 specified minimum limit of 100 seconds is typically
deemed too short.
tcp_rfc1337 (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux 2.2)
Enable TCP behavior conformant with RFC 1337. When disabled, if
a RST is received in TIME_WAIT state, we close the socket imme‐
diately without waiting for the end of the TIME_WAIT period.
tcp_rmem (since Linux 2.4)
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 values, depending
on memory available in the system.
min minimum size of the receive buffer used by each TCP
socket. The default value is the system page size.
(On Linux 2.4, the default value is 4K, lowered to
PAGE_SIZE bytes in low-memory systems.) This value is
used to ensure that in memory pressure mode, alloca‐
tions 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. (On Linux 2.4, this
will be lowered to 43689 in low-memory systems.) If
larger receive buffer sizes are desired, this value
should be increased (to affect all sockets). To
employ large TCP windows, the net.ipv4.tcp_win‐
dow_scaling must be enabled (default).
max the maximum size of the receive buffer used by each
TCP socket. This value does not override the global
net.core.rmem_max. This is not used to limit the size
of the receive buffer declared using SO_RCVBUF on a
socket. The default value is calculated using the
max(87380, min(4MB, tcp_mem*PAGE_SIZE/128))
(On Linux 2.4, the default is 87380*2 bytes, lowered
to 87380 in low-memory systems).
tcp_sack (Boolean; default: enabled; since Linux 2.2)
Enable RFC 2018 TCP Selective Acknowledgements.
tcp_slow_start_after_idle (Boolean; default: enabled; since Linux
If enabled, provide RFC 2861 behavior and time out the conges‐
tion window after an idle period. An idle period is defined as
the current RTO (retransmission timeout). If disabled, the con‐
gestion window will not be timed out after an idle period.
tcp_stdurg (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux 2.2)
If this option is enabled, then use the RFC 1122 interpretation
of the TCP urgent-pointer field. According to this interpreta‐
tion, the urgent pointer points to the last byte of urgent data.
If this option is disabled, then use the BSD-compatible inter‐
pretation of the urgent pointer: the urgent pointer points to
the first byte after the urgent data. Enabling this option may
lead to interoperability problems.
tcp_syn_retries (integer; default: 5; since Linux 2.2)
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.
tcp_synack_retries (integer; default: 5; since Linux 2.2)
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.
tcp_syncookies (Boolean; since Linux 2.2)
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,
tcp_timestamps (Boolean; default: enabled; since Linux 2.2)
Enable RFC 1323 TCP timestamps.
tcp_tso_win_divisor (integer; default: 3; since Linux 2.6.9)
This parameter controls what percentage of the congestion window
can be consumed by a single TCP Segmentation Offload (TSO)
frame. The setting of this parameter is a tradeoff between
burstiness and building larger TSO frames.
tcp_tw_recycle (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux 2.4)
Enable fast recycling of TIME_WAIT sockets. Enabling this
option is not recommended since this causes problems when work‐
ing with NAT (Network Address Translation).
tcp_tw_reuse (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux 2.4.19/2.6)
Allow to reuse TIME_WAIT sockets for new connections when it is
safe from protocol viewpoint. It should not be changed without
advice/request of technical experts.
tcp_vegas_cong_avoid (Boolean; default: disabled; Linux 2.2 to 2.6.13)
Enable TCP Vegas congestion avoidance algorithm. TCP Vegas is a
sender-side only change to TCP that anticipates the onset of
congestion by estimating the bandwidth. TCP Vegas adjusts the
sending rate by modifying the congestion window. TCP Vegas
should provide less packet loss, but it is not as aggressive as
tcp_westwood (Boolean; default: disabled; Linux 2.4.26/2.6.3 to 2.6.13)
Enable TCP Westwood+ congestion control algorithm. TCP West‐
wood+ is a sender-side only modification of the TCP Reno proto‐
col stack that optimizes the performance of TCP congestion con‐
trol. It is based on end-to-end bandwidth estimation to set
congestion window and slow start threshold after a congestion
episode. Using this estimation, TCP Westwood+ adaptively sets a
slow start threshold and a congestion window which takes into
account the bandwidth used at the time congestion is experi‐
enced. TCP Westwood+ significantly increases fairness with
respect to TCP Reno in wired networks and throughput over wire‐
tcp_window_scaling (Boolean; default: enabled; since Linux 2.2)
Enable RFC 1323 TCP window scaling. 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, applications can increase the size
of their socket buffers and the window scaling option will be
employed. If tcp_window_scaling is disabled, TCP will not nego‐
tiate the use of window scaling with the other end during con‐
tcp_wmem (since Linux 2.4)
This is a vector of 3 integers: [min, default, max]. These
parameters are used by TCP to regulate send buffer sizes. TCP
dynamically adjusts the size of the send buffer from the default
values listed below, in the range of these values, depending on
min Minimum size of the send buffer used by each TCP
socket. The default value is the system page size.
(On Linux 2.4, 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_SNDBUF 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
/proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_window_scaling must be set to a
non-zero value (default).
max The maximum size of the send buffer used by each TCP
socket. This value does not override the value in
/proc/sys/net/core/wmem_max. This is not used to
limit the size of the send buffer declared using
SO_SNDBUF on a socket. The default value is calcu‐
lated using the formula
max(65536, min(4MB, tcp_mem*PAGE_SIZE/128))
(On Linux 2.4, the default value is 128K bytes, low‐
ered 64K depending on low-memory systems.)
tcp_workaround_signed_windows (Boolean; default: disabled; since Linux
If enabled, assume that no receipt of a window-scaling option
means that the remote TCP is broken and treats the window as a
signed quantity. If disabled, assume that the remote TCP is not
broken even if we do not receive a window scaling option from
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
IPPROTO_TCP. In addition, most IPPROTO_IP socket options are valid on
TCP sockets. For more information see ip(7).
TCP_CONGESTION (since Linux 2.6.13)
Get or set the congestion-control algorithm for this socket.
The optval argument is a pointer to a character-string buffer.
For getsockopt() *optlen specifies the amount of space available
in the buffer pointed to by optval, which should be at least 16
bytes (defined by the kernel-internal constant TCP_CA_NAME_MAX).
On return, the buffer pointed to by optval is set to a null-ter‐
minated string containing the name of the congestion-control
algorithm for this socket, and *optlen is set to the minimum of
its original value and TCP_CA_NAME_MAX. If the value passed in
*optlen is too small, then the string returned in *optval is
silently truncated, and no terminating null byte is added. If
an empty string is returned, then the socket is using the
default congestion-control algorithm, determined as described
under tcp_congestion_control above.
For setsockopt() optlen specifies the length of the congestion-
control algorithm name contained in the buffer pointed to by
optval; this length need not include any terminating null byte.
The algorithm "reno" is always permitted; other algorithms may
be available, depending on kernel configuration. Possible
errors from setsockopt() include: algorithm not found/available
(ENOENT); setting this algorithm requires the CAP_NET_ADMIN
capability (EPERM); and failure getting kernel module (EBUSY).
TCP_CORK (since Linux 2.2)
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. As currently implemented, there is a
200 millisecond ceiling on the time for which output is corked
by TCP_CORK. If this ceiling is reached, then queued data is
automatically transmitted. This option can be combined with
TCP_NODELAY only since Linux 2.5.71. This option should not be
used in code intended to be portable.
TCP_DEFER_ACCEPT (since Linux 2.4)
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
TCP_INFO (since Linux 2.4)
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.
TCP_KEEPCNT (since Linux 2.4)
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.
TCP_KEEPIDLE (since Linux 2.4)
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.
TCP_KEEPINTVL (since Linux 2.4)
The time (in seconds) between individual keepalive probes. This
option should not be used in code intended to be portable.
TCP_LINGER2 (since Linux 2.4)
The lifetime of orphaned FIN_WAIT2 state sockets. This option
can be used to override the system-wide setting in the file
/proc/sys/net/ipv4/tcp_fin_timeout for this socket. This is not
to be confused with the socket(7) 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 is overridden by TCP_CORK;
however, setting this option forces an explicit flush of pending
output, even if TCP_CORK is currently set.
TCP_QUICKACK (since Linux 2.4.4)
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.
TCP_SYNCNT (since Linux 2.4)
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.
TCP_WINDOW_CLAMP (since Linux 2.4)
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.
TCP provides limited support for out-of-band data, in the form of (a
single byte of) urgent data. In Linux this means if the other end
sends newer out-of-band data the older urgent data is inserted as nor‐
mal 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 RFC 1122, but is required for interop‐
erability with other stacks. It can be changed via
It is possible to peek at out-of-band data using the recv(2) MSG_PEEK
Since version 2.4, Linux supports the use of MSG_TRUNC in the flags
argument of recv(2) (and recvmsg(2)). This flag causes the received
bytes of data to be discarded, rather than passed back in a caller-sup‐
plied buffer. Since Linux 2.4.4, MSG_PEEK also has this effect when
used in conjunction with MSG_OOB to receive out-of-band data.
These following ioctl(2) calls return information in value. The cor‐
rect syntax is:
error = ioctl(tcp_socket, ioctl_type, &value);
ioctl_type is one of the following:
Returns the amount of queued unread data in the receive buffer.
The socket must not be in LISTEN state, otherwise an error (EIN‐
VAL) is returned.
Returns true (i.e., value is non-zero) if the inbound data
stream is at the urgent mark.
If the SO_OOBINLINE socket option is set, and SIOCATMARK returns
true, then the next read from the socket will return the urgent
data. If the SO_OOBINLINE socket option is not set, and SIOCAT‐
MARK returns true, then the next read from the socket will
return the bytes following the urgent data (to actually read the
urgent data requires the recv(MSG_OOB) flag).
Note that a read never reads across the urgent mark. If an
application is informed of the presence of urgent data via
select(2) (using the exceptfds argument) or through delivery of
a SIGURG signal, then it can advance up to the mark using a loop
which repeatedly tests SIOCATMARK and performs a read (request‐
ing any number of bytes) as long as SIOCATMARK returns false.
Returns the amount of unsent data in the socket send queue. The
socket must not be in LISTEN state, otherwise an error (EINVAL)
When a network error occurs, TCP tries to resend the packet. If it
doesn't succeed after some time, either ETIMEDOUT or the last received
error on this connection is reported.
Some applications require a quicker error notification. This can be
enabled with the IPPROTO_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.
Passed socket address type in sin_family was not AF_INET.
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
Any errors defined for ip(7) or the generic socket layer may also be
returned for TCP.
Support for Explicit Congestion Notification, zero-copy sendfile(2),
reordering support and some SACK extensions (DSACK) were introduced in
2.4. Support for forward acknowledgement (FACK), TIME_WAIT recycling,
and per-connection keepalive socket options were introduced in 2.3.
Not all errors are documented.
IPv6 is not described.
SEE ALSOaccept(2), bind(2), connect(2), getsockopt(2), listen(2), recvmsg(2),
sendfile(2), sendmsg(2), socket(2), ip(7), socket(7)
RFC 793 for the TCP specification.
RFC 1122 for the TCP requirements and a description of the Nagle algo‐
RFC 1323 for TCP timestamp and window scaling options.
RFC 1644 for a description of TIME_WAIT assassination hazards.
RFC 3168 for a description of Explicit Congestion Notification.
RFC 2581 for TCP congestion control algorithms.
RFC 2018 and RFC 2883 for SACK and extensions to SACK.
This page is part of release 3.22 of the Linux man-pages project. A
description of the project, and information about reporting bugs, can
be found at http://www.kernel.org/doc/man-pages/.
Linux 2008-12-01 TCP(7)