PTSSection: Linux Programmer's Manual (4)
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NAMEptmx and pts - pseudo-terminal master and slave
DESCRIPTIONThe file /dev/ptmx is a character file with major number 5 and minor number 2, usually of mode 0666 and owner.group of root.root. It is used to create a pseudo-terminal master and slave pair.
When a process opens /dev/ptmx, it gets a file descriptor for a pseudo-terminal master (PTM), and a pseudo-terminal slave (PTS) device is created in the /dev/pts directory. Each file descriptor obtained by opening /dev/ptmx is an independent PTM with its own associated PTS, whose path can be found by passing the descriptor to ptsname(3).
Once both the pseudo-terminal master and slave are open, the slave provides processes with an interface that is identical to that of a real terminal.
Data written to the slave is presented on the master descriptor as input. Data written to the master is presented to the slave as input.
In practice, pseudo-terminals are used for implementing terminal emulators such as xterm(1), in which data read from the pseudo-terminal master is interpreted by the application in the same way a real terminal would interpret the data, and for implementing remote-login programs such as sshd(8), in which data read from the pseudo-terminal master is sent across the network to a client program that is connected to a terminal or terminal emulator.
NOTESThe Linux support for the above (known as Unix98 pty naming) is done using the devpts filesystem, that should be mounted on /dev/pts.
SEE ALSOgetpt(3), grantpt(3), ptsname(3), unlockpt(3)