BCC (BPF compiler collection) for Android


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 Overview and visit BCC project page for official BCC documentation.

Quick Start

androdeb 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.

For setting up BCC on your Android device, you need the target device's kernel source and the sources should be built atleast once in-tree. Once it is built, run the following command pointing androdeb to the kernel sources which will have it extract headers from there and push them to the device.

androdeb prepare --download --bcc --kernelsrc /path/to/kernel-source/

This downloads and installs a pre-built androdeb filesystem containing a recent version of BCC onto the android device, extracts kernel headers from the source tree pointed to and does other setup. Note that --download option will work only if the target architecture is ARM64. For other architectures, see the Other Architectures section

Now to run BCC, just start an androdeb shell: androdeb shell. This uses adb as the backend to start a shell into your androdeb 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:




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


Build BCC during androdeb install (Optional)

If you would like the latest BCC installation on your Android device, we recommend dropping the --download option from the androdeb command above. This will make androdeb clone and build the latest version for of BCC for the target architecture. Note that this is much slower that --download.

androdeb prepare --bcc --kernelsrc /path/to/kernel-source/

Other Architectures (other than ARM64)

By default androdeb 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:

androdeb prepare --arch amd64 --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.

Common Issues

  • 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[];