Beyond socket options: making the Linux TCP stack truly extensible

Wed, 02/27/2019 - 14:19 by Viet-Hoang Tran


The Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) is one of the most important protocols in today's Internet. Its specification and implementations have been refined for almost forty years. The Linux TCP stack is one of the most widely used TCP stacks given its utilisation on servers and Android smartphones and tablets. However, TCP and its implementations evolve very slowly. In this paper, we demonstrate how to leverage the eBPF virtual machine that is part of the recent versions of the Linux kernel to make the TCP stack easier to extend.
We demonstrate a variety of use cases where the eBPF code is injected inside a running kernel to update or tune the TCP implementation. We first implement the TCP User Timeout Option. Then we propose a new option that enables a client to request a server to use a specific congestion control scheme. Our third extension is a TCP option that sets the initial congestion window. We then demonstrate how eBPF code can be used to tune the acknowledgment strategy.

Viet-Hoang Tran and Olivier Bonaventure
The IFIP Networking 2019 Conference, May 2019. IFIP, IFIP Digital Library.
TCP, protocol extension, eBPF, dynamic policy
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