Hello TCP Server

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Let me start by saying you should first visit Beej’s Guide to Network Programming and give it a quick read, which explains most of this stuff a bit more verbosely. We’ll be creating a simple TCP server here which will say “Hello World” to all incoming connections and then close them. Another thing to note is, the server will be communicating to clients iteratively, which means one client at a time. Make sure to check out relevant man pages as they might contain valuable information about each function call and socket structures.

We’ll run the server with a port, so we’ll take an argument for port number as well. Let’s get started with code -

#include <cstring>    // sizeof()
#include <iostream>
#include <string>   

// headers for socket(), getaddrinfo() and friends
#include <arpa/inet.h>
#include <netdb.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <sys/types.h>

#include <unistd.h>    // close()

int main(int argc, char *argv[])
    // Let's check if port number is supplied or not..
    if (argc != 2) {
        std::cerr << "Run program as 'program <port>'\n";
        return -1;
    auto &portNum = argv[1];
    const unsigned int backLog = 8;  // number of connections allowed on the incoming queue
addrinfo hints, *res, *p;    // we need 2 pointers, res to hold and p to iterate over
memset(&hints, 0, sizeof(hints));

// for more explanation, man socket
hints.ai_family   = AF_UNSPEC;    // don't specify which IP version to use yet
hints.ai_socktype = SOCK_STREAM;  // SOCK_STREAM refers to TCP, SOCK_DGRAM will be?
hints.ai_flags    = AI_PASSIVE;

// man getaddrinfo
int gAddRes = getaddrinfo(NULL, portNum, &hints, &res);
if (gAddRes != 0) {
    std::cerr << gai_strerror(gAddRes) << "\n";
    return -2;

std::cout << "Detecting addresses" << std::endl;

unsigned int numOfAddr = 0;
char ipStr[INET6_ADDRSTRLEN];    // ipv6 length makes sure both ipv4/6 addresses can be stored in this variable

// Now since getaddrinfo() has given us a list of addresses
// we're going to iterate over them and ask user to choose one
// address for program to bind to
for (p = res; p != NULL; p = p->ai_next) {
    void *addr;
    std::string ipVer;

    // if address is ipv4 address
    if (p->ai_family == AF_INET) {
        ipVer             = "IPv4";
        sockaddr_in *ipv4 = reinterpret_cast<sockaddr_in *>(p->ai_addr);
        addr              = &(ipv4->sin_addr);

    // if address is ipv6 address
    else {
        ipVer              = "IPv6";
        sockaddr_in6 *ipv6 = reinterpret_cast<sockaddr_in6 *>(p->ai_addr);
        addr               = &(ipv6->sin6_addr);

    // convert IPv4 and IPv6 addresses from binary to text form
    inet_ntop(p->ai_family, addr, ipStr, sizeof(ipStr));
    std::cout << "(" << numOfAddr << ") " << ipVer << " : " << ipStr
              << std::endl;

// if no addresses found :(
if (!numOfAddr) {
    std::cerr << "Found no host address to use\n";
    return -3;

// ask user to choose an address
std::cout << "Enter the number of host address to bind with: ";
unsigned int choice = 0;
bool madeChoice     = false;
do {
    std::cin >> choice;
    if (choice > (numOfAddr + 1) || choice < 1) {
        madeChoice = false;
        std::cout << "Wrong choice, try again!" << std::endl;
    } else
        madeChoice = true;
} while (!madeChoice);
p = res;

// let's create a new socket, socketFD is returned as descriptor
// man socket for more information
// these calls usually return -1 as result of some error
int sockFD = socket(p->ai_family, p->ai_socktype, p->ai_protocol);
if (sockFD == -1) {
    std::cerr << "Error while creating socket\n";
    return -4;

// Let's bind address to our socket we've just created
int bindR = bind(sockFD, p->ai_addr, p->ai_addrlen);
if (bindR == -1) {
    std::cerr << "Error while binding socket\n";
    // if some error occurs, make sure to close socket and free resources
    return -5;

// finally start listening for connections on our socket
int listenR = listen(sockFD, backLog);
if (listenR == -1) {
    std::cerr << "Error while Listening on socket\n";

    // if some error occurs, make sure to close socket and free resources
    return -6;

// structure large enough to hold client's address
sockaddr_storage client_addr;
socklen_t client_addr_size = sizeof(client_addr);

const std::string response = "Hello World";

// a fresh infinite loop to communicate with incoming connections
// this will take client connections one at a time
// in further examples, we're going to use fork() call for each client connection
while (1) {

    // accept call will give us a new socket descriptor
    int newFD
      = accept(sockFD, (sockaddr *) &client_addr, &client_addr_size);
    if (newFD == -1) {
        std::cerr << "Error while Accepting on socket\n";

    // send call sends the data you specify as second param and it's length as 3rd param, also returns how many bytes were actually sent
    auto bytes_sent = send(newFD, response.data(), response.length(), 0);


return 0;

The following program runs as -

Detecting addresses
(1) IPv4 :
(2) IPv6 : ::
Enter the number of host address to bind with: 1

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