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bpf-iptables is an eBPF and XDP based firewall, providing same iptables syntax.

Thanks to efficient matching algorithms, eBPF and XDP driver level optimizations, is able to provide high performances. No kernel modification are required, bpf comes at zero cost with recent Linux kernels.

Research papers

Securing Linux with a Faster and Scalable Iptables

Draft, 1 December 2018
This paper presents an eBPF-based firewall, bpf-iptables, which emulates the iptables filtering semantic while guaranteeing higher throughput outperforming other Linux-based firewalls particularly when a high number of rules is involved. PDF

Accelerating Linux Security with eBPF iptables

ACM SIGCOMM 2018 Conference Posters and Demos, Budapest (H), 20-25 August 2018
This paper presents an eBPF-based prototype that emulates the iptables filtering semantic and exploits a more efficient matching algorithm, without requiring custom kernels or invasive software frameworks. PDF

Toward an eBPF-based clone of iptables

Netdev 0x12, The Technical Conference on Linux Networking, Montréal (Canada), 11-13 July 2018
This paper reports the first results of a project that aims at creating a eBPF-based (partial) clone of iptables. This project assumes unmodified Linux kernel and guarantees the full compatibility with current iptables. PDF

How to use?

bpf-iptables is part of PolyCube framework. We use pcn-iptables syntax (pcn=PolyCubeNetwork).


# Pull docker image (PolyCube & pcn-iptables)
docker pull polycubenetwork/polycube:latest

# Run the Polycube Docker and launch polycubed (the polycube daemon) inside it.
# The Docker container is launched in the host networking stack (--network host),
# privileged mode (--privileged) is necessary to use eBPF features.
docker run  -it --rm --privileged --network host \
-v /lib/modules:/lib/modules:ro -v /usr/src:/usr/src:ro -v /etc/localtime:/etc/localtime:ro \
polycubenetwork/polycube:latest /bin/bash -c 'polycubed -d && /bin/bash'

Refer to Polycube Quickstart for bare metal install mode. Quickstart

# Initialize pcn-iptables
# pcn-iptables provides same iptables syntax. Please ref#er to iptables online docs for more info.
# Following are just few examples of available commands.

# E.g.
pcn-iptables -A INPUT -s -j DROP # Append rule to INPUT chain
pcn-iptables -D INPUT -s -j DROP # Delete rule from INPUT chain
pcn-iptables -I INPUT -s -j DROP # Insert rule into INPUT chain

# Example of a complex rule
pcn-iptables -A INPUT -s -d -p tcp --sport 9090 --dport 80 --tcpflags SYN,ACK ACK -j DROP

# Example of a conntrack rule
pcn-iptables -A OUTPUT -m conntrack --ctstate=ESTABLISHED -j ACCEPT

# Show rules
pcn-iptables -S # dump rules
pcn-iptables -L INPUT # dump rules for INPUT chain

pcn-iptables -P FORWARD DROP # set default policy for FORWARD chain

# Stop and clean pcn-iptables


Q:Can I still use iptables?
A:Yes, iptables will not be affected.

A:Performance (especially with a large amount of rules); Low CPU utilization (especially with XDP mode)

Q:How to use XDP mode?
A:run pcn-iptables-init-xdp

Q:Limitations of XDP mode?
A:pcn-itpables will be atached only to XDP compatible interfaces.


pcn-iptables Source Code
pcn-iptables Documentation
PolyCube Network




bpf-iptables is not related to bpfilter (
Right now bpf-iptables uses a different mechanism to intercept iptables rules.

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