BPF is a mini-VM residing in the Linux kernel that runs BPF programs. Before running, BPF programs are loaded with the bpf() syscall and are validated for safety: checking for loops, code size, etc. BPF programs are attached to kernel objects and executed when events happen on those objects—for example, when a network interface emits a packet.

Cilium is a networking project that makes heavy use of eBPF superpowers to route and filter network traffic for container-based systems. By using eBPF, Cilium can dynamically generate and apply rules—even at the device level with XDP—without making changes to the Linux kernel itself.

The Cilium Agent runs on each host. Instead of managing IP tables, it translates network policy definitions to BPF programs that are loaded into the kernel and attached to a container’s virtual ethernet device. These programs are executed—rules applied—on each packet that is sent or received.

Position on the Adoption Curve

Presentations about Cilium/eBPF