socktap is an example application demonstrating API usage of Vanetza libraries. You can run this demo application on commodity hardware, i.e. no special V2X or Car2X hardware is required. If you have an IEEE 802.11p compatible network interface card, though, socktap can also communicate with other ITS-G5 stations.

Consider socktap as an experimental application showcasing some of Vanetza’s features but not as a full-grown ITS-G5 station. However, socktap may be the starting point for your custom application. Just keep in mind that Vanetza supports more features than those integrated in socktap. For example, socktap omits Decentralized Congestion Control (DCC) entirely though Vanetza supports this feature.

At the moment, three link layer implementations exist for socktap. You can choose via the --link-layer argument which implementation to use:

  • ethernet runs on Linux raw packet sockets
  • cohda employs Cohda’s LLC API (optional)
  • udp runs GeoNetworking on top of IP/UDP multicast sockets

The ethernet variant has been initially socktap‘s only available link-layer implementation. In this mode, socktap will send and receiver Ethernet frames on the specified network interface (see --interface argument).

Please be aware that socktap needs special privileges to access the raw sockets. Either run socktap as root user or set the CAP_NET_RAW capabilities on the socktap executable. You can do this via sudo setcap cap_net_raw+ep bin/socktap. When CAP_NET_RAW is attached to the socktap binary you can run it as an ordinary user.

If you have access to V2X hardware from Cohda Wireless, you can also run socktap on their units. In the cohda mode, socktap uses Cohda’s LLC API for sending and receiving data frames. This mode is similar to ethernet but depends on the Cohda SDK. Please refer to our Cohda SDK building recipe for details.

A relatively new addition is the udp mode, which allows running socktap without any privileges. GeoNetworking packets are wrapped into UDP datagrams and sent to the IP multicast group on UDP port 8947. Further socktap instances within the same IP multicast network exchange GeoNetworking packets then. You can consider this as “GeoNetworking over IP/UDP”.


Many components of an ITS-G5 system depend on positioning data. Ideally, you have a GPS receiver attached to the computer running gpsd along with socktap. If you do not have a GPS receiver or no GPS signal in your environment, you can also set a static position manually.

The --positioning argument controls if gpsd provides live GPS position fixes or if socktap shall use a static position fix. See also the --latitude and --longitude arguments for the latter option.


Earlier, multiple variants of socktap existed as separate executables. Nowadays, socktap is the unified executable which can be configured in many ways. These configuration options substitute the deprecated executables.

You can choose from three simple example V2X applications to run with socktap via the --applications argument:

  • ca sends Cooperative Awareness Messages (CAM)
  • hello sends simple BTP-B message with the binary payload 0xc0ffee
  • benchmark counts the number of any received messages and prints the current message rate once per second

Building and Running

You need to enable the CMake option BUILD_SOCKTAP so socktap will be built at all. Two further CMake options control which optional features are included into the socktap executable.

Build options

First, the option SOCKTAP_WITH_COHDA_LLC enables the link-layer variant for operation on Cohda V2X devices. This option usually makes only sense if you are cross-compiling socktap for a Cohda device.

If CMake finds gpsd on your system, the option SOCKTAP_WITH_GPSD is enabled by default. The integration of GPS receivers depends on this option. If this option is disabled, you can only configure static positions with socktap.


A bug in gpsd<=3.15 causes a segmentation fault when socktap tries to fetch GPS data. More recent versions include a bugfix, e.g. gpsd>=3.17 is known to work. See also the corresponding issue ticket #69.

First steps

You can locate socktap in your build directory at bin/socktap. Run this executable with --help appended to see the list of available runtime configuration options. With the ethernet link-layer you should specify the network device on which socktap should send and receive packets via --interface. Usually, such devices are named eth0 or wlan0. You can look up the available devices on your machine with the ip link command.

If you want to use the local loopback device (usually lo) you need to override the used MAC address using --mac-address to receive packets. Otherwise, the MAC address is 00:00:00:00:00:00 for both sides and the router drops incoming packets matching its address.


This demo application has been initially developed as part of a student’s project at Hochschule Darmstadt in summer term 2016. Participating students were in alphabetical order: Sachin Kashyap Bukkambudhi Satyanarayana, Alvita Marina Menezes, Mrunmayi Parchure, Subashini Rajan and Deeksha Venkadari Yogendra. Since then, @kelunik and @glmax have contributed a lot to socktap.