Unix Socket Programming Question:
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What exactly does SO_KEEPALIVE do?


The SO_KEEPALIVE option causes a packet (called a 'keepalive probe') to be sent to the remote system if a long time (by default, more than 2 hours) passes with no other data being sent or received. This packet is designed to provoke an ACK response from the peer. This enables detection of a peer which has become unreachable (e.g. powered off or disconnected from the net).

Note that the figure of 2 hours comes from RFC1122, "Requirements for Internet Hosts". The precise value should be configurable, but I've often found this to be difficult. The only implementation I know of that allows the keepalive interval to be set per-connection is SVR4.2.

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