Ruby wrapper for SysV IPC message queues.
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sysvmq Build Status

sysvmq is a C extension that wraps System V IPC Message Queues. It's similar to the POSIX MQ Ruby wrapper. Message queues are handy for interprocess communication where you want to be able to take down either endpoint easily. For example, a pipe or socket requires you to implement handover logic in both applications. The main disadvantage of SysV message queues over POSIX MQs (on Linux) is that SysV doesn't expose a file descriptor to do e.g. select(2) on. The advantage of SysV is that it's implemented on OS X, which POSIX MQs are not.

Note that sysvmq doesn't rely on any third-party message broker. The message queue is handled by the kernel. It's extremely stable and performant.

sysvmq has been tested heavily in production at Shopify, under more than 100k RPM.


Add sysvmq to your Gemfile.

gem 'sysvmq'

Currently known to work on Linux and OS X for MRI >= 1.9


# Create a message queue with a 1024 byte buffer.
require 'sysvmq'
mq =, 1024, SysVMQ::IPC_CREAT | 0666)

mq.send "Hellø Wårld!"
assert_equal 1, mq.stats[:count]

assert_equal "Hellø Wårld!", mq.receive.force_encoding("UTF-8")

# Raise an exception instead of blocking until a message is available
mq.receive(0, SysVMQ::IPC_NOWAIT)

# Delete queue

Proc settings

System V queues are limited by default to a maximum of 16 message queues, a maximum of 8KB per message, and a maximum of 16KB for the total size of all messages in a queue.

To increase (or decrease) these limits, either run:

sysctl -w kernel.msgmni=32
sysctl -w kernel.msgmax=1000000
sysctl -w kernel.msgmnb=2000000

or write to /etc/sysctl.conf:

echo 'kernel.msgmni=32' >> /etc/sysctl.conf # maximum number of message queues
echo 'kernel.msgmax=1000000' >> /etc/sysctl.conf # maximum number of bytes per message
echo 'kernel.msgmnb=2000000' >> /etc/sysctl.conf # maximum total size of all messages in a queue
sysctl -p

See for more information.


  • Explain messages types
  • Add named params for flags (e.g. mq.receive(:front, blocking: false)) instead of ORing flags directly.
  • Add IPC_INFO on Linux
  • Add all of IPC_STAT