Definition

port

1) On computer and telecommunication devices, a port (noun) is generally a specific place for being physically connected to some other device, usually with a socket and plug of some kind. Typically, a personal computer is provided with one or more serial ports and usually one parallel port. The serial port supports sequential, one bit-at-a-time transmission to peripheral devices such as scanners and the parallel port supports multiple-bit-at-a-time transmission to devices such as printers.

2) In programming, a port (noun) is a "logical connection place" and specifically, using the Internet's protocol, TCP/IP, the way a client program specifies a particular server program on a computer in a network. Higher-level applications that use TCP/IP such as the Web protocol, Hypertext Transfer Protocol, have ports with preassigned numbers. These are known as "well-known ports" that have been assigned by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). Other application processes are given port numbers dynamically for each connection. When a service (server program) initially is started, it is said to bind to its designated port number. As any client program wants to use that server, it also must request to bind to the designated port number.

Port numbers are from 0 to 65535. Ports 0 to 1024 are reserved for use by certain privileged services. For the HTTP service, port 80 is defined as a default and it does not have to be specified in the Uniform Resource Locator (URL).

3) In programming, to port (verb) is to move an application program from an operating system environment in which it was developed to another operating system environment so it can be run there. Porting implies some work, but not nearly as much as redeveloping the program in the new environment. Open standard programming interface (such as those specified in X/Open's 1170 C language specification and Sun Microsystem's Java programming language) minimize or eliminate the work required to port a program. Also see portability.

This was last updated in November 2005
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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