One of my first contributions to the eBPF ecosystem was to list the available resources about eBPF, to help people get started with the topic (and, let’s be honest, so I could remember where to find these resources myself when I needed them). Since then, eBPF has gained in notoriety, and we now have many more available resources, from books to tutorials, a variety of blog posts, better kernel documentation, and a lot more. The website https://ebpf.io is an excellent starting point to learn the basics about the technology and to find the pointers for the next steps of your journey. Whether you’re a Linux user who heard about eBPF and want to learn what you can do and how to use it, or an experienced eBPF hacker trying to understand how the verifier is implemented, there are resources out there to help you.
However, people who are unfamiliar with Linux or technology in general will struggle to find documents that could help them. Have you ever tried explaining eBPF to your parents? To your neighbours? To this decision taker who has no idea what a kernel is? To your… children? This is hard!
To make eBPF accessible to all people, Bill, a colleague from Isovalent, had the brilliant idea to do a children’s book about eBPF. We took inspiration from The Illustrated Children’s Guide to Kubernetes, which introduces the basic concepts of Kubernetes in a fun way, with the story of Phippy, a young application lost in a cloud-native world, unfolding on the left-hand side pages of the book, accompanied with diagrams and explanations on the right side.
And so we created a brand new story: Buzzing Across Space!
Meet Captain Tux, at the commands of its starship, the Silver Lining (every cloud has one), and struggling to find an efficient way to fix and improve the vessel. Meet eBee and her fellow bees, aboard the ship, helping Captain Tux optimise various components, directly from the engine room. Will they succeed in making the Silver Lining faster and more resilient? Will they be able to adapt their setup to new pieces to avoid the ship to become obsolete? Will they survive to the evil powers attracted by their prowesses? If you want the answers to all these questions, just read the book! The PDF is freely available from https://ebpf.io:
The book was authored by Bill Mulligan and myself. I focused on the story, while Bill wrote most of the explanations, and we both contributed diagrams. All the illustrations are the work of Dacil C. The book was produced by Isovalent. For my part, I thoroughly enjoyed working on this project, and I took great pleasure in writing the story of eBee and Tux.
In case you want to check it out, I also did a short introduction to the book during the Linux Plumbers Conference 2023 (session, slides, video). Bill had some physical copies of the book printed for the latest KubeCon, but we managed to keep a few for LPC, and I handed over twenty copies or so. Some people asked me to sign it (which I consider a great honour). If you find yourself a copy and manage to find me at an event, I’ll gladly sign it, too (provided I don’t forget my pen, like for LPC; maybe bring your pen just in case). Bill signs copies as well, if you meet him first. We’d like to find a way for people to buy physical copies online, but nothing’s been decided yet. We also plan to publish the source files for the book, this should happen Soon™.
Now that this children’s book is done, we also have a few ideas for future related works. Again, nothing’s been decided yet, we’ll see where this takes us. All aboard, the Silver Lining is taking off soon!