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dc01eee Sep 1, 2017
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Object pinning

BPF has a persistent view of maps and programs under its own filesystem /sys/fs/bpf. Users are able to make each object visible under the bpffs. We call it object pinning. This is done by calling syscall bpf(2) with a command BPF_OBJ_PIN. After doing that, users are able to use the object with commands such as BPF_OBJ_GET, or remove the object with an ordinary VFS syscall unlink(2).

Doing that, we can make maps and programs stay alive across process terminations. This mechanism provides a much more consistent way of sharing objects with other processes, compared to other solutions such as tc, where objects are shared via Unix domain sockets.

Different pinning options

C.bpf_map_def.pinning (defined in bpf.h) can be set to one the following pinning options.

  • PIN_NONE : object is not pinned
  • PIN_OBJECT_NS : pinning that is local to an object (to-be-implemented)
  • PIN_GLOBAL_NS : pinning with a global namespace under e.g. /sys/fs/bpf/ns1/globals
  • PIN_CUSTOM_NS : pinning with a custom path given as section parameter

Pinning with PIN_CUSTOM_NS

When loading a module with C.bpf_map_def.pinning set to PIN_CUSTOM_NS, an additional path must be set in the elf.SectionParams.PinPath parameter to Load(). For example:

(C source file for an ELF object)

struct bpf_map_def SEC("maps/dummy_array_custom") dummy_array_custom = {
	.key_size = sizeof(int),
	.value_size = sizeof(unsigned int),
	.max_entries = 1024,
	.pinning = PIN_CUSTOM_NS,

(Go source file that actually uses the ELF object)

b := elf.NewModule(customELFFileName)
var secParams = map[string]elf.SectionParams{
    "maps/dummy_array_custom": elf.SectionParams{
        PinPath: "ns1/test1",
if err := b.Load(secParams); err != nil {

Then you can check if the object is pinned like below:

$ ls -l /sys/fs/bpf/ns1/test1

Unpinning with PIN_CUSTOM_NS

To unpin a custom pinned map, we need an additional path elf.CloseOptions.PinPath as parameter to CloseExt(). For example:

var closeOptions = map[string]elf.CloseOptions{
    "maps/dummy_array_custom": elf.CloseOptions{
        Unpin:   true,
        PinPath: "ns1/test1",
if err := b.CloseExt(closeOptions); err != nil {

Or you can also remove the file just like below: