What Does Pipe Mean?

A pipe is a method used to pass information from one program process to another. Unlike other types of interprocess communication, a pipe only offers one-way communication by passing a parameter or output from one process to another. The information that is passed through the pipe is held by the system until it can be read by the receiving process.


Pipes are primarily used in programming on Unix systems.

Techopedia Explains Pipe

The benefit of using a pipe in Unix or Linux is that it provides for more complex processing. In a Unix shell script, for example, a pipe is specified by a vertical bar (|) in the command line. The result of the first command sequence is used as the input for the second command sequence. Two pipes can be used to enable two-way communication.


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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.