1 unstable release

0.1.0 Sep 1, 2022

#931 in Development tools




Userspace eBPF VM

Build Status Coverage Status


This project aims to create an Apache-licensed library for executing eBPF programs. The primary implementation of eBPF lives in the Linux kernel, but due to its GPL license it can't be used in many projects.

Linux documentation for the eBPF instruction set

Instruction set reference

API Documentation

This project includes an eBPF assembler, disassembler, interpreter (for all platforms), and JIT compiler (for x86-64 and Arm64 targets).

Checking Out

Before following any of the instructions below for building, testing, contributing, etc, please be sure to properly check out the source code which requires properly initializing submodules:

git submodule init
git submodule update --recursive

Building with CMake

A build system for compiling and testing ubpf is generated for Windows, Linux and macOS platforms using cmake:

cmake -S . -B build -DUBPF_ENABLE_TESTS=true
cmake --build build --config Debug

In order to prepare your system to successfully generate the build system using CMake, follow the platform-specific instructions below.


Building, compiling and testing on Windows requires an installation of Visual Studio (not VS Code -- the MSVC compiler is necessary!).

Note: There are free-to-use versions of Visual Studio for individual developers. These versions are known as the community version.

You can build, compile and test uBPF using VS Code but Visual Studio is still required.

The other requirement is that you have nuget.exe in your PATH. You can determine if your host meets this criteria by testing whether

> nuget.exe

produces output about how to execute the program. With nuget.exe installed, the cmake configuration system will download all the required developer libraries as it configures the build system.


First, make sure that you have the XCode Command Line Tools installed:

$ xcode-select -install

Installing the XCode Command Linux Tools will install Apple's version of the Clang compiler and other developer-support tools.

uBpf requires that your host have several support libraries installed. The easiest way to configure your host to meet these requirements,

  1. Install homebrew
  2. Install boost:
$ brew install boost
  1. Install LLVM (and related tools):
$ brew install llvm cmake
$ brew install clang-format

Installing LLVM from Homebrew is optional for developing and using uBPF on macOS. It is required if you plan on compiling/creating eBPF programs by compiling LLVM and storing them in ELF files. If you do install LLVM from Homebrew, add -DUBPF_ALTERNATE_LLVM_PATH=/opt/homebrew/opt/llvm/bin to the cmake configuration command:

cmake -S . -B build -DUBPF_ENABLE_TESTS=true -DUBPF_ALTERNATE_LLVM_PATH=/opt/homebrew/opt/llvm/bin



Running the tests

Linux and MacOS

cmake --build build --target test --


ctest --test-dir build

Building with make (Linux)

Run make -C vm to build the VM. This produces a static library libubpf.a and a simple executable used by the testsuite. After building the library you can install using make -C vm install via either root or sudo.

Running the tests (Linux)

To run the tests, you first need to build the vm code then use nosetests to execute the tests. Note: The tests have some dependencies that need to be present. See the .travis.yml for details.

Before running the test (assuming Debian derived distro)

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get -y install python python-pip python-setuptools python-wheel python-nose
python2 -m pip install --upgrade "pip<21.0"
python2 -m pip install -r requirements.txt
python2 -m pip install cpp-coveralls

Running the test

make -C vm COVERAGE=1
nosetests -v   # run tests

After running the test

coveralls --gcov-options '\-lp' -i $PWD/vm/ubpf_vm.c -i $PWD/vm/ubpf_jit_x86_64.c -i $PWD/vm/ubpf_loader.c

Compiling C to eBPF

You'll need Clang 3.7.

clang-3.7 -O2 -target bpf -c prog.c -o prog.o

You can then pass the contents of prog.o to ubpf_load_elf, or to the stdin of the vm/test binary.


Please fork the project on GitHub and open a pull request. You can run all the tests with nosetests.


Copyright 2015, Big Switch Networks, Inc. Licensed under the Apache License, Version 2.0 <LICENSE.txt or http://www.apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0>.

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