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Tracing Event Filtering

For filtering by workload, see scopes.

$ sudo ./dist/tracee-ebpf --trace help
$ sudo ./dist/tracee-ebpf --trace xxx

Tracing output might become too hard to consume when tracing all the events from a system. Luckily, Tracee has a powerful mechanism to accurately trace just the information that is relevant to the user, the --trace flag.

With --trace command line flag you define expressions that tells tracee-ebpf what you are interested in based on event metadata filtering capabilities. Only events that match given criteria will be traced.


You can filter events by most of the visible fields from Tracee events.

Initial Example

All the examples bellow this item can be executed with the following tracee-ebpf prefix command:

$ sudo ./dist/tracee-ebpf \
    --output json \
    --trace comm=bash \
    --trace follow
    --output option:parse-arguments \
    <rest of filters>

This will allow you to test the filtering rules by executing a new process in any running shell and might serve as a good indicative if your filter works as expected.

Filters and Operators

  1. Event (Operators: =, != and "follow". Prefix/Suffix: *)

    1) --trace event=openat
    2) --trace event=execve,open
    3) --trace event='open*'
    4) --trace event!='open*,dup*'
    5) --trace follow


    The "follow" operator will make tracee follow all newly created child processes of the parents being filtered.

  2. Event Arguments (Operators: =, !=. Prefix/Suffix: *)

    1) --trace event=openat --trace openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow
    2) --trace event=openat --trace openat.args.pathname='/tmp*'
    3) --trace event=openat --trace openat.args.pathname!=/tmp/1,/bin/ls


    Multiple values are ORed if used with = operator
    But ANDed if used with any other operator.

  3. Event Return Code (Operators: =, !=, <, >)

    1) --trace event=openat --trace openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow --trace 'openat.retval>0'
    2) --trace event=openat --trace openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow --trace 'openat.retval<0'


    Try cat /etc/shadow as a regular use and filter for retval<0.

  4. Event Context (Operators: vary by field)

    1) --trace openat.context.container --trace openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow
    2) --trace event=openat --trace openat.context.container --trace openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow


    The following is a list of available context fields:
    1) "timestamp"
    2) "processorId"
    3) "p", "pid", "processId"
    4) "tid", "threadId"
    5) "ppid", "parentProcessId"
    6) "hostTid", "hostThreadId"
    7) "hostPid", "hostParentProcessId"
    8) "uid", "userId"
    9) "mntns", "mountNamespace"
    10) "pidns", "pidNamespace"
    11) "processName", "comm"
    12) "hostName"
    13) "cgroupId"
    14) "host" (inversion of "container")
    15) "container"
    16) "containerId"
    17) "containerImage"
    18) "containerName"
    19) "podName"
    20) "podNamespace"
    21) "podUid"
    22) "syscall"


    Open a container and try cat /etc/shadow.

  5. Event Sets (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --trace set=fs
    2) --trace set=lsm_hooks,network_events


    Selects a set of events to tracee according to pre-defined sets which can be listed by using --list command line argument.

  6. Container (Operators: =, != and "new". Boolean)

    1) --trace container # all container events
    2) --trace '!container' # events from the host only
    3) --trace container=new # containers created after tracee-ebf execution
    4) --trace container=3f93da58be3c --trace event=openat
    5) --trace container=new --trace event=openat --trace openat.args.pathname=/etc/shadow


    The new flag allows to trace newly created containers only.

  7. Command (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --trace comm=cat,vim,ping
    2) --trace comm!=ping


    Do not use given command prefix for these examples as they're filtering by command name as well.

  8. Binary Path (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --trace binary=/usr/bin/ls
    2) --trace binary=host:/usr/bin/ls
    3) --trace binary=4026532448:/usr/bin/ls


    1. Mount namespace id or the special "host:" prefix can be used for finer filtering
    2. Given path must be absolute; i.e starts with "/"
    3. Symbolic link paths are not supported
  9. PID (Operators: =, !=, <, > and "new")

    1) --trace pid=new # newly created events (after tracee-ebpf execution)
    2) --trace pid=510,1709 # # pids 510 and 1709
    3) --trace 'pid>0' --trace pid 'pid<1000'
    4) --trace pid=2578238 --trace event=openat --trace openat.pathname=/etc/shadow --trace follow


    This filter can be used to trace a specific process or thread: 1. Providing a tgid (aka pid) will trace all threads of the process. 2. Providing a tid (where tid != tgid) will only trace the specific thread.

  10. Process Tree

    1) --trace tree=476165 # events descending from process 476165
    2) --trace tree!=5023 # events that do not descend from process 5023
  11. UID (Operators: =, !=, <, >)

    1) --trace uid=0
    2) --trace 'uid>0'
    3) --trace 'uid>0' --trace uid!=1000 # do not trace root and uid=1000
  12. UTS Namespace (hostnames) (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --trace uts!=ab356bc4dd554 
  13. PID Namespace (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --trace pidns!=4026531836
  14. MOUNT Namespace (Operators: =, !=)

    1) --trace mntns=4026531840