network troubleshooting

Network debugging with eBPF (RHEL 8 Beta)

Network debugging with eBPF (RHEL 8 Beta)

Introduction

Networks are fun to work with, but often they are also a source of trouble. Network troubleshooting can be difficult, and reproducing the bad behavior that is happening in the field can be painful as well.

Luckily, there are some tools that come to the aid: network namespaces, virtual machines, tc, and netfilter. Simple network setups can be reproduced with network namespaces and veth devices, while more-complex setups require interconnecting virtual machines with a software bridge and using standard networking tools, like iptables or tc, to simulate the bad behavior. If you have an issue with ICMP replies generated because an SSH server is down, iptables -A INPUT -p tcp --dport 22 -j REJECT --reject-with icmp-host-unreachable in the correct namespace or VM can do the trick.

This article describes using eBPF (extended BPF), an extended version of the Berkeley Packet Filter, to troubleshoot complex network issues. eBPF is a fairly new technology and the project is still in an early stage, with documentation and the SDK not yet ready. But that should improve, especially with XDP (eXpress Data Path) being shipped in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8 Beta, which you can download and run now.

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