Advanced Troubleshooting of MySQL Query Latency and Index Usage with eBPF


Using eBPF (extended Berkeley Packet Filter) for troubleshooting MySQL query latency and index usage is a sophisticated technique that leverages Linux's advanced tracing capabilities. eBPF allows you to trace system and application-level metrics without significant performance overhead. Here's a detailed explanation with scripts and explanations:

Troubleshooting MySQL Query Latency with eBPF

Understanding eBPF

eBPF is a technology that enables the dynamic tracing of kernel and user-space applications on Linux. It's highly efficient and flexible, allowing you to write programs that attach to various points in the kernel and user space, such as system calls, function entries/exits, and network events.


  • A Linux environment with eBPF support.MySQL server running on the same system.bcc tools installed - These are a collection of eBPF programs and libraries that make it easier to write eBPF tracing tools.

Capturing MySQL Queries and Latency

You can use eBPF to monitor the mysql process and capture query execution times. Here's a basic example script:

This script attaches to a function within the MySQL process (you'll need to identify the appropriate function name based on your MySQL version and architecture) and logs the query and its execution time.

Troubleshooting MySQL Index Usage with eBPF

Troubleshooting index usage is more complex because it involves understanding the internal workings of the MySQL query optimizer. eBPF can capture queries, but interpreting whether an index is used or not typically requires deeper analysis of MySQL internals or query logs.

1. Capturing MySQL Queries

You can modify the above script to capture queries. Analyzing these queries for index usage often requires correlating with MySQL's EXPLAIN output or slow query logs.

2. Analyzing Index Usage

  • Use MySQL's EXPLAIN statement to understand how queries are executed and whether indexes are used.
  • Correlate with eBPF captured data to identify patterns or specific queries where indexes might not be used effectively.


  • MySQL Version and Architecture: The specific functions to attach in MySQL can vary based on the version and architecture.
  • Performance Impact: While eBPF is designed to be low overhead, any dynamic tracing can impact system performance. It should be used judiciously, especially in production environments.
  • Security: Ensure that your eBPF scripts do not expose sensitive data and are compliant with your security policies.


Using eBPF to troubleshoot MySQL performance issues, such as query latency and index usage, is a powerful technique but requires a deep understanding of both MySQL internals and eBPF programming. The above script provides a basic framework for capturing query latencies, but analyzing index usage might require additional tools and MySQL-specific insights. Always test your eBPF scripts in a non-production environment first to ensure they work as expected and do not introduce significant overhead.

Learn more about using eBPF in troubleshooting RDBMS performance here. We have also covered it's utility in troubleshooting ClickHouse thread performance here.

About Shiv Iyer 444 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.