What is mean by message queue?

The basic idea of a message queue is a simple one.

Two (or more) processes can exchange information via access to a common system message queue. The sending process places via some (OS) message-passing module a message onto a queue which can be read by another process (Figure 24.1). Each message is given an identification or type so that processes can select the appropriate message. Process must share a common key in order to gain access to the queue in the first place (subject to other permissions -- see below).

24.1 Basic Message Passing IPC messaging lets processes send and receive messages, and queue messages for processing in an arbitrary order. Unlike the file byte-stream data flow of pipes, each IPC message has an explicit length. Messages can be assigned a specific type. Because of this, a server process can direct message traffic between clients on its queue by using the client process PID as the message type. For single-message transactions, multiple server processes can work in parallel on transactions sent to a shared message queue.

Before a process can send or receive a message, the queue must be initialized (through the msgget function see below) Operations to send and receive messages are performed by the msgsnd() and msgrcv() functions, respectively.

When a message is sent, its text is copied to the message queue. The msgsnd() and msgrcv() functions can be performed as either blocking or non-blocking operations. Non-blocking operations allow for asynchronous message transfer -- the process is not suspended as a result of sending or receiving a message. In blocking or synchronous message passing the sending process cannot continue until the message has been transferred or has even been acknowledged by a receiver. IPC signal and other mechanisms can be employed to implement such transfer. A blocked message operation remains suspended until one of the following three conditions occurs:

  • The call succeeds.
  • The process receives a signal.
  • The queue is removed.

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