The accept function is used with connection-based socket types (SOCK_STREAM, SOCK_SEQPACKET and SOCK_RDM). It extracts the first connection request on the queue of pending connections, creates a new connected socket with mostly the same properties as s, and allocates a new file descriptor for the socket, which is returned. The newly created socket is no longer in the listening state. The original socket s is unaffected by this call. Note that any per file descriptor flags (everything that can be set with the F_SETFL fcntl, like non blocking or async state) are not inherited across an accept.
The argument addr is a pointer to a sockaddr structure. This structure is filled in with the address of the connecting entity, as known to the communications layer. The exact format of the address passed in the addr parameter is determined by the socket's family (see socket(2) and the respective protocol man pages). The addrlen argument is a value-result parameter: it should initially contain the size of the structure pointed to by addr; on return it will contain the actual length (in bytes) of the address returned. When addr is NULL nothing is filled in.
If no pending connections are present on the queue, and the socket is not marked as non-blocking, accept blocks the caller until a connection is present. If the socket is marked non-blocking and no pending connections are present on the queue, accept returns EAGAIN.
In order to be notified of incoming connections on a socket, you can use select(2) or poll(2). A readable event will be delivered when a new connection is attempted and you may then call accept to get a socket for that connection. Alternatively, you can set the socket to deliver SIGIO when activity occurs on a socket; see socket(7) for details.
For certain protocols which require an explicit confirmation, such as DECNet, accept can be thought of as merely dequeuing the next connection request and not implying confirmation. Confirmation can be implied by a normal read or write on the new file descriptor, and rejection can be implied by closing the new socket. Currently only DECNet has these semantics on Linux.
There may not always be a connection waiting after a SIGIO is delivered or select(2) or poll(2) return a readability event because the connection might have been removed by an asynchronous network error or another thread before accept is called. If this happens then the call will block waiting for the next connection to arrive. To ensure that accept never blocks, the passed socket s needs to have the O_NONBLOCK flag set (see socket(7)).
The call returns -1 on error. If it succeeds, it returns a non-negative integer that is a descriptor for the accepted socket.
The socket is marked non-blocking and no connections are present to be accepted.
SVr4, 4.4BSD (the accept function first appeared in BSD 4.2). The BSD man page documents five possible error returns (EBADF, ENOTSOCK, EOPNOTSUPP, EWOULDBLOCK, EFAULT). SUSv2 documents errors EAGAIN, EBADF, ECONNABORTED, EFAULT, EINTR, EINVAL, EMFILE, ENFILE, ENOBUFS, ENOMEM, ENOSR?, ENOTSOCK, EOPNOTSUPP, EPROTO, EWOULDBLOCK.
Linux accept does not inherit socket flags like O_NONBLOCK. This behaviour differs from other BSD socket implementations. Portable programs should not rely on this behaviour and always set all required flags on the socket returned from accept.