A Mutable Log

A blog by Devendra Tewari

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Using the fdsink element of GStreamer

The fdsink element is useful because it can be used to write data directly to a socket. In this post, we’ll see how to setup a listener for client connections and stream directly to the client socket using fdsink.

Listen for incoming connections

The code below sets up a server socket to listen for incoming client connections. Once a client connects, we send the appropriate HTTP headers, and call the function that will stream data to the client socket using fdsink. You can find the make_socket function in the GNU libc manual.

client_thread(gpointer data)
  int BUF_SIZE = 256;
  char buffer[BUF_SIZE+1];
  int client = (int)data;
  int ret;

  ret = read(client, buffer, BUF_SIZE);

  while(ret != -1)
    buffer[ret] = 0;
    g_print("%s", buffer);
    if (ret > 3 && strncmp(buffer, "GET", 3) == 0)
      send(client, "HTTP/1.0 200 OK\r\n", 17, 0);
      send(client, "Connection: close\r\n", 19, 0);
      send(client, "Content-Type: video/webm\r\n", 26, 0);
      send(client, "\r\n", 2, 0);

      //... create pipeline with fdsink

    ret = read((int)data, buffer, BUF_SIZE);

server_thread(gpointer data)
  int sock, client;
  struct sockaddr_in addr;
  size_t size;

  g_print("Server thread started\n");

  sock = make_socket(9001);

    if (listen (sock, 1) < 0)
      g_printerr ("listener failed");
      exit (EXIT_FAILURE);
    size = sizeof(addr);
    client = accept(sock, (struct sockaddr *)&addr, &size);

    if (client < 0)
      g_printerr ("accept failed");

    g_print("connect from host %s, port %d.\n",

    g_thread_create(client_thread, (gpointer)client, TRUE, NULL);

Create listener in its own thread

The server above can be executed in its own thread—we use glib—thus

  sthread = g_thread_create(server_thread, NULL, TRUE, NULL);

Use fdsink to stream to socket

The following code snippet demonstrates how fdsink can be setup

  sink = gst_element_factory_make ("fdsink", NULL);
  g_object_set (G_OBJECT (sink), "fd", client, NULL);

Handling client removal in a dynamic pipeline

A client can disconnect without a warning, fdsink does not provide any mechanism to handle such as situation. The whole pipeline can end if a single client disconnects. Luckily, the multifdsink can be used in such a scenario, as it handles client disconnection more gracefully. The num-fds property can be polled to detect that there are no pending clients.

Create a multifdsink thus

  sink = gst_element_factory_make ("multifdsink", NULL);

After starting the pipeline, add a new socket fd thus

  g_signal_emit_by_name(sink, "add", client, G_TYPE_NONE);

The multifdsink element has a bug that causes 100% CPU usage, but has been fixed in version 0.10.33 of GStreamer.


The following headers contain the declarations required to compile the code above

#include <gst/gst.h>
#include <glib.h>
#include <sys/socket.h>
#include <netinet/in.h>

That’s all there is to it.