Development setup

This will help you getting started with your development setup to build Tetragon

Building and running Tetragon

For local development, you will likely want to build and run bare-metal Tetragon.


  • A Go toolchain with the version specified in the main go.mod;
  • GNU make;
  • A running Docker service (you can use Podman as well);
  • For building tests, libcap and libelf (in Debian systems, e.g., install libelf-dev and libcap-dev).

Build everything

You can build most Tetragon targets as follows (this can take time as it builds all the targets needed for testing, see minimal build):


If you want to use podman instead of docker, you can do the following (assuming you need to use sudo with podman):

CONTAINER_ENGINE='sudo podman' make

You can ignore /bin/sh: docker: command not found in the output.

To build using the local clang, you can use:


See Dockerfile.clang for the minimal required version of clang.

Minimal build

To build the tetragon binary, the BPF programs and the tetra CLI binary you can use:

make tetragon tetragon-bpf tetra

Run Tetragon

You should now have a ./tetragon binary, which can be run as follows:

sudo ./tetragon --bpf-lib bpf/objs


  1. The --bpf-lib flag tells Tetragon where to look for its compiled BPF programs (which were built in the make step above).

  2. If Tetragon fails with an error "BTF discovery: candidate btf file does not exist", then make sure that your kernel support BTF, otherwise place a BTF file where Tetragon can read it and specify its path with the --btf flag. See more about that in the FAQ.

Building and running a Docker image

The base kernel should support BTF or a BTF file should be bind mounted on top of /var/lib/tetragon/btf inside container.

To build Tetragon image:

make image

To run the image:

docker run --name tetragon \
   --rm -it -d --pid=host \
   --cgroupns=host --privileged \
   -v /sys/kernel/btf/vmlinux:/var/lib/tetragon/btf \

Run the tetra binary to get Tetragon events:

docker exec -it tetragon \
   bash -c "/usr/bin/tetra getevents -o compact"

Building and running as a systemd service

To build Tetragon tarball:

make tarball

Running Tetragon in kind

This command will setup tetragon, kind cluster and install tetragon in it. Ensure docker, kind, kubectl, and helm are installed.

# Setup tetragon on kind
make kind-setup

Verify that Tetragon is installed by running:

kubectl get pods -n kube-system

Local Development in Vagrant Box

If you are on an intel Mac, use Vagrant to create a dev VM:

vagrant up
vagrant ssh

If you are getting an error, you can try to run sudo launchctl load /Library/LaunchDaemons/org.virtualbox.startup.plist (from a Stackoverflow answer).

What’s next