[Mono-list] Socket code.

Jonathan Gilbert 2a5gjx302@sneakemail.com
Sun, 22 Feb 2004 12:42:14

At 04:31 PM 21/02/2004 -0800, you wrote:
>I have some socket code that looks something like this:
>byte[] bytes = new byte[1448];
>do {
>	len = sock.Read(bytes, 0, (int)1448);
>	s = Encoding.ASCII.GetString(bytes);
>	buf.Append(s.Substring(0,len));
>	if (len < 1448)
>		break;
>} while (len > 0);
>The key thing is this used to work with a socket size of 1460, now it is
>down to 1448.  If I don't set the buffer size exactly then all the data
>available is not read.  Is there a property to get the packet size of a

The property 'Available' returns the number of bytes which are waiting. In
general, you can't assume anything about the MTU, though it is reasonable
to assume that it won't be much larger than 1500, since this limit is
enforced by the underlying data transport. However, you have to keep in
mind that TCP is a stream-oriented protocol. It isn't based on the concept
of packets. Multiple packets could arrive between two calls to sock.Read().
In addition, TCP packets can exceed the data layer MTU; they will be
automatically fragmented, and then reassembled by the operating system
before your code ever sees them. Thus, you can atomically see an increase
in available bytes of more than the MTU.

Your loop looks roughly correct, except that for the Encoding function, you
should be using an overload which allows you to specify the amount of data
to translate. It just so happens that Encoding.ASCII defines a 1-to-1
correspondence between bytes and characters, but you cannot assume this.
This leads to another problem as well; a character might be split across
packet boundaries, in which case it would not decode properly. To properly
handle this, you need to collect the byte[] values until you have as much
data as you expected, and only then translate them to a string. Here is how
I would do it:

static byte[] ReadFully(Socket socket, int numBytes)
  byte[] ret = new byte[numBytes];
  int offset = 0;

  while (numBytes > 0)
    int received = socket.Receive(ret, offset, numBytes, SocketFlags.None);
    if (received <= 0)
      throw new SocketException("Connection closed by peer or network error
    offset += received;
    numBytes -= received;

  return ret;

static string ReadString(Socket socket, int expectedBytes)
  byte[] bytes = ReadFully(socket, expectedBytes);

  return Encoding.ASCII.GetString(bytes);

With this code, if you have a string that you expect to be 10,000 bytes
long, simply pass 10,000 as the parameter to 'ReadString'. Packets will be
automatically collected and put back together as appropriate.

If you are expecting TCP to allow the receiving end to Receive() the same
chunks that the sending end Send()'s, this is a flawed assumption. As I
mentioned earlier, TCP is a stream-based protocol. You can't any more
expect to automatically Receive() the same chunks that were sent using
Send() than you can expect to automatically be able to determine the size
of each Write() to a file after the file has been written. Just think of
the TCP stream as a non-packet-oriented stream of bytes. In this context,
if you have a variable-length string, you need to either send the length of
the string explicitly before you send the string, or decide on a specific
terminator. If you chose to use a terminator, then you will need a
substantially more complicated routine than the one above. Here is a
routine which I have used in the past:

static string ReadToCRLF(Socket socket)
  ArrayList buffers = new ArrayList();
  byte[] buffer = new byte[1000];
  int offset = 0;
  bool cr = false;

  while (true)
    int bytesToReceive = ((offset + 1 < buffer.Length) && !cr) ? 2 : 1;
    int count = socket.Receive(buffer, offset, bytesToReceive,

    offset += count;

    if (cr)
      if (buffer[offset - count] == 10)
        cr = false;

    if ((count == 2) && (buffer[offset - 2] == 13) && (buffer[offset - 1]
== 10))

    if (buffer[offset - 1] == 13)
      cr = true;

    if (offset == buffer.Length)
      buffer = new byte[1000];
      offset = 0;

  int totalBytes = buffers.Count * 1000 + offset - 2; /* remove the CRLF */

  byte[] bytes = new byte[totalBytes];

  int remaining = totalBytes;
  offset = 0; /* re-using this variable */
  while (remaining > 0)
    byte[] source;

    if (buffers.Count > 0) /* this is required because there might be a
CRLF spanning the boundary between the last two buffers */
      source = (byte[])buffers[0];
      buffers.RemoveAt(0); /* performance might increase slightly by using
an index instead of erasing buffers, but it shouldn't be a big issue */
      source = buffer; /* the last buffer */

    int numBytes = buffer.Length;
    if (numBytes > remaining)
      numBytes = remaining;

    Array.Copy(source, 0, bytes, offset, numBytes);

    offset += numBytes;
    remaining -= numBytes;

  return Encoding.ASCII.GetString(bytes);