CMSG_ALIGN is a powerful Linux command for aligning memory addresses. It modifies the value of a character message header’s cmsg_len field to ensure it is a multiple of eight. This alignment is crucial for socket operations that rely on aligned memory buffers, such as sendmsg() and recvmsg().




  • mhdr is a pointer to the character message header where adjustments need to be made.


  • None: This command does not have any options or flags.


Example 1: Simple Memory Alignment

// Assume mhdr is a pointer to a pre-initialized character message header.


Example 2: Complex Alignment with Multiple Headers

// Assume mhdr1, mhdr2, and mhdr3 are pointers to character message headers.

// Now all three headers have aligned cmsg_len fields.

Common Issues

  • Insufficiently Aligned Memory: Failure to align memory properly using CMSG_ALIGN can lead to unexpected errors or data corruption during socket operations.
  • Unbalanced Alignment: CMSG_ALIGN only adjusts the cmsg_len field. If the total size of the control message, including the header and auxiliary data, is misaligned, errors may still occur.


CMSG_ALIGN is seamlessly integrated into the Linux socket API. It is typically used in conjunction with socket operations involving control messages, such as:

  • sendmsg(): Before sending control messages, using CMSG_ALIGN ensures proper alignment for efficient transmission.
  • recvmsg(): When receiving control messages, CMSG_ALIGN aligns the received headers to facilitate proper retrieval of auxiliary data.

Related Commands

  • setsockopt() and getsockopt(): These commands also involve passing control messages and can benefit from alignment via CMSG_ALIGN.
  • socket(7): Official documentation on Linux sockets, including information on control messages and alignment.