Class Socket provides access to the underlying operating system socket implementations. It can be used to provide more operating system specific functionality than the protocol-specific socket classes.

The constants defined under Socket::Constants are also defined under Socket. For example, Socket::AF_INET is usable as well as Socket::Constants::AF_INET. See Socket::Constants for the list of constants.

What’s a socket?

Sockets are endpoints of a bidirectional communication channel. Sockets can communicate within a process, between processes on the same machine or between different machines. There are many types of socket: TCPSocket, UDPSocket or UNIXSocket for example.

Sockets have their own vocabulary:

domain: The family of protocols:

  • Socket::PF_INET

  • Socket::PF_INET6

  • Socket::PF_UNIX

  • etc.

type: The type of communications between the two endpoints, typically

  • Socket::SOCK_STREAM

  • Socket::SOCK_DGRAM.

protocol: Typically zero. This may be used to identify a variant of a protocol.

hostname: The identifier of a network interface:

  • a string (hostname, IPv4 or IPv6 address or broadcast which specifies a broadcast address)

  • a zero-length string which specifies INADDR_ANY

  • an integer (interpreted as binary address in host byte order).

Quick start

Many of the classes, such as TCPSocket, UDPSocket or UNIXSocket, ease the use of sockets comparatively to the equivalent C programming interface.

Let’s create an internet socket using the IPv4 protocol in a C-like manner:

require 'socket'

s = Socket.new Socket::AF_INET, Socket::SOCK_STREAM
s.connect Socket.pack_sockaddr_in(80, 'example.com')

You could also use the TCPSocket class:

s = TCPSocket.new 'example.com', 80

A simple server might look like this:

require 'socket'

server = TCPServer.new 2000 # Server bound to port 2000

loop do
  client = server.accept    # Wait for a client to connect
  client.puts "Hello !"
  client.puts "Time is #{Time.now}"

A simple client may look like this:

require 'socket'

s = TCPSocket.new 'localhost', 2000

while line = s.gets # Read lines from socket
  puts line         # and print them

s.close             # close socket when done

Exception Handling

Ruby’s Socket implementation raises exceptions based on the error generated by the system dependent implementation. This is why the methods are documented in a way that isolate Unix-based system exceptions from Windows based exceptions. If more information on a particular exception is needed, please refer to the Unix manual pages or the Windows WinSock reference.

Convenience methods

Although the general way to create socket is Socket.new, there are several methods of socket creation for most cases.

TCP client socket

Socket.tcp, TCPSocket.open

TCP server socket

Socket.tcp_server_loop, TCPServer.open

UNIX client socket

Socket.unix, UNIXSocket.open

UNIX server socket

Socket.unix_server_loop, UNIXServer.open

Documentation by

  • Zach Dennis

  • Sam Roberts

  • Programming Ruby from The Pragmatic Bookshelf.

Much material in this documentation is taken with permission from Programming Ruby from The Pragmatic Bookshelf.


AF_INET6 = Object.new


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