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bpftime: Userspace eBPF runtime for fast Uprobe & Syscall Hook & Extensions

Build and Test VM Build and test runtime DOI

bpftime, a full-featured, high-performance eBPF runtime designed to operate in userspace. It offers fast Uprobe and Syscall hook capabilities: Userspace uprobe can be 10x faster than kernel uprobe! and can programmatically hook all syscalls of a process safely and efficiently.

📦 Key Features \ 🔨 Quick Start \ 🔌 Examples & Use Cases \ ⌨️ Linux Plumbers 23 talk \ 📖 Slides \ 📚 Arxiv preprint

Key Features

  • Uprobe and Syscall hooks based on binary rewriting: Run eBPF programs in userspace, attaching them to Uprobes and Syscall tracepoints: No manual instrumentation or restart required!. It can trace, replace or patch the execution of a function, hook, filter or redirect all syscalls of a process safely, and efficiently with an eBPF userspace runtime.
  • Performance: Experience up to a 10x speedup in Uprobe overhead compared to kernel uprobe and uretprobe.
  • Interprocess eBPF Maps: Implement userspace eBPF maps in shared userspace memory for summary aggregation or control plane communication.
  • Compatibility: use existing eBPF toolchains like clang and libbpf to develop userspace eBPF without any modifications. Supporting CO-RE via BTF, and offering userspace host function access.
  • JIT Support: Benefit from a cross-platform eBPF interpreter and a high-speed JIT compiler powered by LLVM. It also includes a handcrafted x86 JIT in C for limited resources.
  • No instrumentation: Can inject eBPF runtime into any running process without the need for a restart or manual recompilation.
  • Run with kernel eBPF: Can load userspace eBPF from kernel, and using kernel eBPF maps to cooperate with kernel eBPF programs like kprobes and network filters.


  • vm: The eBPF VM and JIT for eBPF, you can choose from bpftime LLVM JIT and a simple JIT/interpreter based on ubpf. It can be built as a standalone library and integrated into other projects. The API is similar to ubpf.
  • runtime: The userspace runtime for eBPF, including the syscall server and agent, attaching eBPF programs to Uprobes and Syscall tracepoints, and eBPF maps in shared memory.
  • daemon: A daemon to make userspace eBPF working with kernel and compatible with kernel uprobe. Monitor and modify kernel eBPF events and syscalls, load eBPF in userspace from kernel.

Quick Start

With bpftime, you can build eBPF applications using familiar tools like clang and libbpf, and execute them in userspace. For instance, the malloc eBPF program traces malloc calls using uprobe and aggregates the counts using a hash map.

You can refer to documents/ for how to build the project, or using the container images from GitHub packages.

To get started, you can build and run a libbpf based eBPF program starts with bpftime cli:

make -C example/malloc # Build the eBPF program example
bpftime load ./example/malloc/malloc

In another shell, Run the target program with eBPF inside:

$ bpftime start ./example/malloc/victim
Hello malloc!
malloc called from pid 250215
continue malloc...
malloc called from pid 250215

You can also dynamically attach the eBPF program with a running process:

$ ./example/malloc/victim & echo $! # The pid is 101771
[1] 101771
continue malloc...
continue malloc...

And attach to it:

$ sudo bpftime attach 101771 # You may need to run make install in root
Inject: "/root/.bpftime/"
Successfully injected. ID: 1

You can see the output from original program:

$ bpftime load ./example/malloc/malloc
        pid=247299      malloc calls: 10
        pid=247322      malloc calls: 10

Alternatively, you can also run our sample eBPF program directly in the kernel eBPF, to see the similar output:

$ sudo example/malloc/malloc
        pid=30415       malloc calls: 1079
        pid=30393       malloc calls: 203
        pid=29882       malloc calls: 1076
        pid=34809       malloc calls: 8

See documents/ for more details.

Examples & Use Cases

minimal examples

See example/minimal.

The bpftime supports the following types of eBPF programs:

  • uprobe/uretprobe: trace userspace functions at start or and.
  • syscall tracepoints: trace the specific syscall types.

You may use bpf_override_return to change the control flow of the program.

See documents/ for more details.

Tracing the system

  • tracing userspace functions with uprobe: Attach uprobe, uretprobe or all syscall tracepoints(currently x86 only) eBPF programs to a process or a group of processes:
  • malloc: count the malloc calls in libc by pid. demonstrate how to use the userspace uprobe with basic hashmap.
  • bashreadline: Print entered bash commands from running shells,
  • sslsniff: Trace and print all SSL/TLS connections and raw traffic data.
  • tracing all syscalls with tracepoints
  • opensnoop: trace file open or close syscalls in a process. demonstrate how to use the userspace syscall tracepoint with ring buffer output.

More bcc/libbpf-tools examples can be found in example/libbpf-tools.

You can also run bpftime with bpftrace, we've test it on this commit. More details about how to run bpftrace in usespace, can be found in example/bpftrace.

Error injections

  • error-injection Inject errors into a userspace function to test its error handling capabilities.

⚠️ Note: bpftime is actively under development, and it's not yet recommended for production use. See our roadmap for details. We'd love to hear your feedback and suggestions! Please feel free to open an issue or Contact us.


How it Works

bpftime supports two modes:

Running in userspace only

Left: original kernel eBPF | Right: bpftime

How it works

In this mode, bpftime can run eBPF programs in userspace without kernel. It relies on a userspace verifier to ensure the safety of eBPF programs.

Run with kernel eBPF


In this mode, bpftime can run together with kernel eBPF. It can load eBPF programs from kernel, and using kernel eBPF maps to cooperate with kernel eBPF programs like kprobes and network filters.

Instrumentation implementation

Current hook implementation is based on binary rewriting and the underly technique is inspired by:

The hook can be easily replaced with other DBI methods or frameworks, or add more hook mechanisms in the future.

See our draft arxiv paper bpftime: userspace eBPF Runtime for Uprobe, Syscall and Kernel-User Interactions for details.

Performance Benchmarks

How is the performance of userspace uprobe compared to kernel uprobes?

Probe/Tracepoint Types Kernel (ns) Userspace (ns)
Uprobe 3224.172760 314.569110
Uretprobe 3996.799580 381.270270
Syscall Tracepoint 151.82801 232.57691
Embedding runtime Not avaliable 110.008430

It can be attached to functions in running process just like the kernel uprobe does.

How is the performance of LLVM JIT/AOT compared to other eBPF userspace runtimes, native code or wasm runtimes?

LLVM jit benchmark

Across all tests, the LLVM JIT for bpftime consistently showcased superior performance. Both demonstrated high efficiency in integer computations (as seen in log2_int), complex mathematical operations (as observed in prime), and memory operations (evident in memcpy and strcmp). While they lead in performance across the board, each runtime exhibits unique strengths and weaknesses. These insights can be invaluable for users when choosing the most appropriate runtime for their specific use-cases.

see for how we evaluate and details.

Hash map or ring buffer compared to kernel(TODO)

See benchmark dir for detail performance benchmarks.

Comparing with Kernel eBPF Runtime

  • bpftime allows you to use clang and libbpf to build eBPF programs, and run them directly in this runtime. We have tested it with a libbpf version in third_party/libbpf. No specify libbpf or clang version needed.
  • Some kernel helpers and kfuncs may not be available in userspace.
  • It does not support direct access to kernel data structures or functions like task_struct.

Refer to documents/ for more details.

Build and test

See documents/ for details.


bpftime is continuously evolving with more features in the pipeline:

  • ring buffer output support.
  • perf event output support.
  • Figure out how to run transparently with kernel probe
  • An AOT compiler for eBPF can be easily added based on the LLVM IR.
  • More examples and usecases:
  • Network on userspace eBPF
  • Hotpatch userspace application
  • Error injection and filter syscall
  • etc...
  • More map types and distribution maps support.
  • More program types support.

Stay tuned for more developments from this promising project! You can find bpftime on GitHub.


This project is licensed under the MIT License.

Contact and citations

Have any questions or suggestions on future development? Free free to open an issue or contact !

Our arxiv preprint:

      title={bpftime: userspace eBPF Runtime for Uprobe, Syscall and Kernel-User Interactions}, 
      author={Yusheng Zheng and Tong Yu and Yiwei Yang and Yanpeng Hu and XiaoZheng Lai and Andrew Quinn},


eunomia-bpf community is sponsored by PLCT Lab from ISCAS.

Thanks for other sponsors and discussions help building this project: Prof. Xiaozheng lai from SCUT, Prof lijun chen from XUPT, Prof. Qi Li from THU NISL Lab, and Linux eBPF maintainers.