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If I run netstat --all | grep ^unix some of the socket paths that are outputted are preceded with a '@' and some aren't. I've noticed that those preceded with a '@' don't show up when browsing the file system with ls but the rest do.

What are these two kinds of sockets and what is the difference between them?

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up vote 8 down vote accepted

These are abstract sockets, that live outside the filesystem namespace. netstat --unix, lsof -U and other commands print an @ sign instead of the nul byte that's at the start of the pathname.

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What role do those abstract sockets play in general? –  Geek Sep 22 '13 at 16:05
    
@Geek It's just a different namespace. There is no need for filesystem access and cleanup. On the other hand anyone can grab a well-known name, so you may have to check the credentials of the server process. –  Gabriel Sep 22 '13 at 16:40

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