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Getting Started with Tracing


This entire section is about running tracee-ebpf only, without piping events to tracee-rules.

In some cases, you might want to leverage Tracee event collection capabilities only, without involving the detection engine. You may, or may not, choose to capture artifacts while tracing.

This might be useful for:

  1. debugging
  2. troubleshooting
  3. analysing executions
  4. security research
  5. education

In this case you can use Tracee's eBPF collector component (tracee-ebpf), which will start dumping raw data directly into standard output.

Watch a quick video demo of Tracee's eBPF tracing capabilities

Using Tracee-eBPF

Before you proceed, make sure you follow the prerequisites.

$ docker run \
    --name tracee --rm -it \
    --pid=host --cgroupns=host --privileged \
    -v /etc/os-release:/etc/os-release-host:ro \
    -e LIBBPFGO_OSRELEASE_FILE=/etc/os-release-host \

Here, we are running the aquasec/tracee container, but with the TRACEE_EBPF_ONLY=1 environment variable set, which will start just a raw trace (Tracee-eBPF), without the detection engine tracee-rules. Here's a sample output of running with no additional arguments:

TIME(s)        UID    COMM             PID     TID     RET             EVENT                ARGS
176751.746515  1000   zsh              14726   14726   0               execve               pathname: /usr/bin/ls, argv: [ls]
176751.746772  1000   zsh              14726   14726   0               security_bprm_check  pathname: /usr/bin/ls, dev: 8388610, inode: 777
176751.747044  1000   ls               14726   14726  -2               access               pathname: /etc/, mode: R_OK
176751.747077  1000   ls               14726   14726   0               security_file_open   pathname: /etc/, flags: O_RDONLY|O_LARGEFILE, dev: 8388610, inode: 533737


There are 2 ways to enable tracing only:
1. To export a TRACEE_EBPF_ONLY=1 env variable to docker.
2. To provide a trace 1st argument to docker container.

Each line is a single event collected by Tracee-eBPF, with the following information:

  1. TIME
    event time relative to system boot time in seconds
  2. UID
    real user id of the calling process (in host userns)
  3. COMM
    name of the calling process
  4. PID
    pid of the calling process
  5. TID
    tid of the calling thread
  6. RET
    value returned by the function
  7. EVENT
    identifies the event (e.g. syscall name)
  8. ARGS
    list of arguments given to the function


Use the --help flag to see a full description of available options. Some flags have specific help sections that can be accessed by passing help to the flag, for example --output help. This section covers some of the more common options.

Check the existing output options for other output options. Check the existing output format for other output formats.

Follow getting tracee in order to get tracee-ebpf.