The ubiquity but also the necessity of eBPF as a technology to keep the kernel relevant

Traditionally operating systems are black boxes designed by system engineers that users simply have to “fit into”. Users do not want to be placed in a box, rather they want to use a system that is flexible enough for their needs. In this sense, traditional system developers are arrogant.

Kernel development has to be done in a careful and well crafted manner, it should not be rushed. But this rate of change absolutely cannot keep up with the continually changing needs of users.

Without the necessary level of flexibility, the resulting rigidity will open the doors for competing operating systems to replace Linux as their platform. These systems would simply be giving the users what they actually want. So we must evolve or die.

Therefore, my talk will be about how eBPF is essential as not just a fancy framework for cool fast networking and interesting tracing and introspection, but rather it is an essential component for the long term longevity and survival of the Linux kernel.

David Miller