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BCC (BPF compiler collection) for Android

Introduction

BCC is a compiler and a toolkit, containing powerful kernel tracing tools that trace at the lowest levels, including adding hooks to functions in kernel space and user space to deeply understand system behavior while being low in overhead. Here's a presentation with an overview and visit BCC's project page for the official BCC documentation.

Quick Start

adeb is the primary vehicle for running BCC on Android. It supports preparing the target Android device with necessary kernel headers, cloning and building BCC on device, and other setup. Take a look a quick look at adeb README so that you're familiar with what it is.

To download a prebuilt filesystem with BCC already built/installed for an ARM64 device, you can just run:

adeb prepare --full

This downloads the FS and also downloads prebuilt kernel headers after detecting your device's kernel version. Running BCC this way may cause a warning at startup since the headers may not be an exact match for your kernel's sublevel (only version and patchlevel are matched), however it works well in our testing and could be used, as long as you can tolerate the warning.

If you would like to setup your own kernel headers and prevent the warning, you can point adeb to the kernel sources which will extract headers from there:

adeb prepare --full --kernelsrc /path/to/kernel-source/

For targets other than ARM64, see the Other Architectures section

Now to run BCC, just start an adeb shell: adeb shell. This uses adb as the backend to start a shell into your adeb environment. Try running opensnoop or any of the other BCC tracers to confirm that the setup worked correctly.

If building your own kernel, following are the kernel requirements:

You need kernel 4.9 or newer. Anything less needs backports. Your kernel needs to be built with the following config options at the minimum:

CONFIG_KPROBES=y
CONFIG_KPROBE_EVENT=y
CONFIG_BPF_SYSCALL=y

Optionally,

CONFIG_UPROBES=y
CONFIG_UPROBE_EVENT=y

Additionally, for the criticalsection BCC tracer to work, you need:

CONFIG_DEBUG_PREEMPT=y
CONFIG_PREEMPTIRQ_EVENTS=y

Build BCC during adeb install (Optional)

If you would like the latest upstream BCC built and installed on your Android device, you can run:

adeb prepare --build --bcc --kernelsrc /path/to/kernel-source/

NOTE: This is a slow process and can take a long time. Since it not only builds BCC but also installs all non-BCC debian packages onto the filesystem and configures them.

Other Architectures (other than ARM64)

By default adeb assumes the target Android device is based on ARM64 processor architecture. For other architectures, use the --arch option. For example for x86_64 architecture, run:

adeb prepare --arch amd64 --build --bcc --kernelsrc /path/to/kernel-source/

Note: The --download option ignores the --arch flag. This is because we only provide pre-built filesystems for ARM64 at the moment. Note: If you pass --arch, you have to pass --build, because prebuilt filesystems are not available for non-arm64 devices.

Common Issues

Here are some common issues you may face when running different BCC tools.

  • Issue 1: Headers are missing on the target device.

Symptom: This will usually result in an error like the following:

root@localhost:/# criticalstat

In file included from <built-in>:2
In file included from /virtual/include/bcc/bpf.h:12:
In file included from include/linux/types.h:5:
include/uapi/linux/types.h:4:10: fatal error: 'asm/types.h' file not found

#include <asm/types.h>                                                                                                                                                                   

         ^~~~~~~~~~~~~
1 error generated.
Traceback (most recent call last):

  File "./criticalstat.py", line 138, in <module>
    b = BPF(text=bpf_text)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/bcc/__init__.py", line 297, in __init__
    raise Exception("Failed to compile BPF text:\n%s" % text)
Exception: Failed to compile BPF text:
                                                                                                                                                                                         
#include <uapi/linux/ptrace.h>                                                                                                                                                           
#include <uapi/linux/limits.h>                                                                                                                                                           
#include <linux/sched.h>                                                                                                                                                                 

extern char _stext[];
  • Issue 2: CONFIG_KPROBES isn't enabled.

Symptom: This will result in an error like the following:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/share/bcc/tools/cachetop", line 263, in <module>
    curses.wrapper(handle_loop, args)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/curses/wrapper.py", line 43, in wrapper
    return func(stdscr, *args, **kwds)
  File "/usr/share/bcc/tools/cachetop", line 172, in handle_loop
    b.attach_kprobe(event="add_to_page_cache_lru", fn_name="do_count")
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/bcc/__init__.py", line 543, in
attach_kprobe
    fn = self.load_func(fn_name, BPF.KPROBE)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/bcc/__init__.py", line 355, in
load_func
    (func_name, errstr))
Exception: Failed to load BPF program do_count: Invalid argument
  • Issue 3: CONFIG_BPF_SYSCALL isn't enabled.

Symptom: This may result in a compilation error like the following:

root@localhost:/# cachetop
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "/usr/share/bcc/tools/cachetop", line 263, in <module>
    curses.wrapper(handle_loop, args)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/curses/wrapper.py", line 43, in wrapper
    return func(stdscr, *args, **kwds)
  File "/usr/share/bcc/tools/cachetop", line 171, in handle_loop
    b = BPF(text=bpf_text)
  File "/usr/lib/python2.7/dist-packages/bcc/__init__.py", line 297, in __init__
    raise Exception("Failed to compile BPF text:\n%s" % text)
Exception: Failed to compile BPF text:


    #include <uapi/linux/ptrace.h>
    struct key_t {
        u64 ip;
        u32 pid;
        u32 uid;
        char comm[16];
    };

    BPF_HASH(counts, struct key_t);

    int do_count(struct pt_regs *ctx) {
        struct key_t key = {};
        u64 zero = 0 , *val;
        u64 pid = bpf_get_current_pid_tgid();
        u32 uid = bpf_get_current_uid_gid();

        key.ip = PT_REGS_IP(ctx);
        key.pid = pid & 0xFFFFFFFF;
        key.uid = uid & 0xFFFFFFFF;
        bpf_get_current_comm(&(key.comm), 16);

        val = counts.lookup_or_init(&key, &zero);  // update counter
        (*val)++;
        return 0;
    }
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