Replying with no data, or an errno

Updated: October 26, 2022

When you finally reply to the client, there's no requirement that you transfer any data. This is used in two scenarios.

You may choose to reply with no data if the sole purpose of the reply is to unblock the client. Let's say the client just wants to be blocked until some particular event occurs, but it doesn't need to know which event. In this case, no data is required by the MsgReply() function; the receive ID is sufficient:

MsgReply (rcvid, EOK, NULL, 0);

This unblocks the client (but doesn't return any data) and returns the EOK “success” indication.

As a slight modification of that, you may wish to return an error status to the client. In this case, you can't do that with MsgReply(), but instead must use MsgError():

MsgError (rcvid, EROFS);

In the above example, the server detects that the client is attempting to write to a read-only filesystem, and, instead of returning any actual data, simply returns an errno of EROFS back to the client.

Alternatively (and we'll look at the calls shortly), you may have already transferred the data (via MsgWrite()), and there's no additional data to transfer.

Why the two calls? They're subtly different. While both MsgError() and MsgReply() will unblock the client, MsgError() will not transfer any additional data, will cause the client's MsgSend() function to return -1, and will cause the client to have errno set to whatever was passed as the second argument to MsgError().

On the other hand, MsgReply() could transfer data (as indicated by the third and fourth arguments), and will cause the client's MsgSend() function to return whatever was passed as the second argument to MsgReply(). MsgReply() has no effect on the client's errno.

Generally, if you're returning only a pass/fail indication (and no data), you'd use MsgError(), whereas if you're returning data, you'd use MsgReply(). Traditionally, when you do return data, the second argument to MsgReply() will be a positive integer indicating the number of bytes being returned.