Memory Management for Mapped Data in Shared Memory Segments


I'm working on a project in C that uses shared memory for IPC on a Linux system. However, I'm a little bit confused about memory management in these segments. I'm using the POSIX API for this project.

I understand how to create the shared segments, and that these persist until a reboot if you fail to properly remove them with shm_unlink(). Additionally, I understand how to do the actually mapping & unmapping with mmap and munmap respectively. However, the usage of these operations and how it affects the stored data in these shared segments is confusing me.

Here is what I'm trying to properly understand:

Lets say I create a segment using shm_open() with the O_CREAT flag. This gives me a file descriptor that I've named msfd in the below example. Now I have a struct that I map into that address space with the following:

mystruct* ms = (mystruct*)mmap(NULL, sizeof(mystruct), PROT_READ | PROT_WRITE, MAP_SHARED, msfd, 0);
//set the elements of the struct here using ms->element = X as usual

Part 1) Here's where my confusion beings. Lets say that this process is now done accessing that location since it was just setting data for another process to read. Do I still call munmap()?

I want the other process to still have access to all of this data that the current process has set. Normally, you wouldn't call free() on a malloc'ed pointer until its use is no longer needed permanently. However, I understand that when this process exits the unmapping happens automatically anyway. Is the data persisted inside the segment, or does that segment just get reserved with it's allotted size and name?

Part 2) We're now in the process of the other application that needs to access and read from that shared segment. I understand that we now open that segment with shm_open() and then perform the same mapping operation with mmap(). Now we have access to the structure in that segment. When we call munmap() from this process (NOT the one that created the data) it "unlinks" us from that pointer, however the data is still accessible. Does this assume that process 1 (the creator) has NOT called munmap()?

By : JNYRanger


Is the data persisted inside the segment,


does that segment just get reserved with it's allotted size and name?

Also yes.

Does this assume that process 1 (the creator) has NOT called munmap()?


The shared memory gets created via shm_create() (as being taken from available OS memory) and from this moment on it carries whichever content had been written into until it is given back to the OS via shm_unlink().

shm_create() and shm_open() act system oriented, in terms of the (shared) memory being a system (not process) specific resource.

mmap() and unmap() act process oriented, that is map and unmap the system resource shared memory into/out-of the process' address space.

By : alk

This video can help you solving your question :)
By: admin