Process Logging

Process Logging

The workspace process logging feature allows you to log all system-level processes executing in the workspace.

Note: This feature is only available on Linux in Kubernetes. There are additional requirements outlined further in this document.

Workspace process logging adds a sidecar container to workspace pods that will log all processes started in the workspace container (e.g., commands executed in the terminal or processes created in the background by other processes). Processes launched inside containers or nested containers within the workspace are also logged. You can view the output from the sidecar or send it to a monitoring stack, such as CloudWatch, for further analysis or long-term storage.

Please note that these logs are not recorded or captured by the Coder organization in any way, shape, or form.

This is an Enterprise feature. To learn more about Coder Enterprise, please contact sales.

How this works

Coder uses eBPF (which we chose for its minimal performance impact) to perform in-kernel logging and filtering of all exec system calls originating from the workspace container.

The core of this feature is also open source and can be found in the exectrace GitHub repo. The enterprise component (in the enterprise/ directory of the repo) is responsible for starting the eBPF program with the correct filtering options for the specific workspace.


The host machine must be running a Linux kernel >= 5.8 with the kernel config CONFIG_DEBUG_INFO_BTF=y enabled.

To check your kernel version, run:

uname -r

To validate the required kernel config is enabled, run either of the following commands on your nodes directly (not from a workspace terminal):

cat /proc/config.gz | gunzip | grep CONFIG_DEBUG_INFO_BTF
cat "/boot/config-$(uname -r)" | grep CONFIG_DEBUG_INFO_BTF

If these requirements are not met, workspaces will fail to start for security reasons.

Your template must be a Kubernetes template. Workspace process logging is not compatible with the sysbox-runc runtime due to technical limitations, but it is compatible with our envbox template family.

Example templates

We provide working example templates for Kubernetes, and Kubernetes with envbox (for Docker support in workspaces). You can view these templates in the exectrace repo.

Configuring custom templates to use workspace process logging

If you have an existing Kubernetes or Kubernetes with envbox template that you would like to add workspace process logging to, follow these steps:

  1. Ensure the image used in your template has curl installed.

  2. Add the following section to your template's main.tf file:

    locals {
      # This is the init script for the main workspace container that runs before the
      # agent starts to configure workspace process logging.
      exectrace_init_script = <<EOT
        set -eu
        pidns_inum=$(readlink /proc/self/ns/pid | sed 's/[^0-9]//g')
        if [ -z "$pidns_inum" ]; then
          echo "Could not determine process ID namespace inum"
          exit 1
        # Before we start the script, does curl exist?
        if ! command -v curl >/dev/null 2>&1; then
          echo "curl is required to download the Coder binary"
          echo "Please install curl to your image and try again"
          # 127 is command not found.
          exit 127
        echo "Sending process ID namespace inum to exectrace sidecar"
        until [ $counter -ge $max_retry ]; do
          set +e
          curl \
            --fail \
            --silent \
            --connect-timeout 5 \
            -X POST \
            -H "Content-Type: text/plain" \
            --data "$pidns_inum" \
          set -e
          if [ $rc -eq 0 ]; then
          echo "Curl failed with exit code $${rc}, attempt $${counter}/$${max_retry}; Retrying in 3 seconds..."
          sleep 3
        if [ $rc -ne 0 ]; then
          echo "Failed to send process ID namespace inum to exectrace sidecar"
          exit $rc
  3. Update the command of your workspace container like the following:

    resource "kubernetes_pod" "main" {
      spec {
        container {
          // NOTE: this command is changed compared to the upstream kubernetes
          // template
          command = [

    Note: If you are using the envbox template, you will need to update the third argument to be "${local.exectrace_init_script}\n\nexec /envbox docker" instead.

  4. Add the following container to your workspace pod spec.

    resource "kubernetes_pod" "main" {
      spec {
        // NOTE: this container is added compared to the upstream kubernetes
        // template
        container {
          name              = "exectrace"
          image             = "ghcr.io/coder/exectrace:latest"
          image_pull_policy = "Always"
          command = [
            "--init-address", "",
            "--label", "workspace_id=${data.coder_workspace.me.id}",
            "--label", "workspace_name=${data.coder_workspace.me.name}",
            "--label", "user_id=${data.coder_workspace.me.owner_id}",
            "--label", "username=${data.coder_workspace.me.owner}",
            "--label", "user_email=${data.coder_workspace.me.owner_email}",
          security_context {
            // exectrace must be started as root so it can attach probes into the
            // kernel to record process events with high throughput.
            run_as_user  = "0"
            run_as_group = "0"
            // exectrace requires a privileged container so it can control mounts
            // and perform privileged syscalls against the host kernel to attach
            // probes.
            privileged = true

    Note: exectrace requires root privileges and a privileged container to attach probes to the kernel. This is a requirement of eBPF.

  5. Add the following environment variable to your workspace pod:

    resource "kubernetes_pod" "main" {
      spec {
        env {
          name = "CODER_AGENT_SUBSYSTEM"
          value = "exectrace"

Once you have made these changes, you can push a new version of your template and workspace process logging will be enabled for all workspaces once they are restarted.

Viewing workspace process logs

To view the process logs for a specific workspace you can use kubectl to print the logs:

kubectl logs pod-name --container exectrace

The raw logs will look something like this:

  "ts": "2022-02-28T20:29:38.038452202Z",
  "level": "INFO",
  "msg": "exec",
  "fields": {
    "labels": {
      "user_email": "[email protected]",
      "user_id": "5e876e9a-121663f01ebd1522060d5270",
      "username": "jessie",
      "workspace_id": "621d2e52-a6987ef6c56210058ee2593c",
      "workspace_name": "main"
    "cmdline": "uname -a",
    "event": {
      "filename": "/usr/bin/uname",
      "argv": ["uname", "-a"],
      "truncated": false,
      "pid": 920684,
      "uid": 101000,
      "gid": 101000,
      "comm": "bash"

View logs in AWS EKS

If you're using AWS' Elastic Kubernetes Service, you can configure your cluster to send logs to CloudWatch. This allows you to view the logs for a specific user or workspace.

To view your logs, go to the CloudWatch dashboard (which is available on the Log Insights tab) and run a query similar to the following:

fields @timestamp, log_processed.fields.cmdline
| sort @timestamp asc
| filter kubernetes.container_name="exectrace"
| filter log_processed.fields.labels.username="zac"
| filter log_processed.fields.labels.workspace_name="code"

Usage considerations

  • The sidecar attached to each workspace is a privileged container, so you may need to review your organization's security policies before enabling this feature. Enabling workspace process logging does not grant extra privileges to the workspace container itself, however.
  • exectrace will log processes from nested Docker containers (including deeply nested containers) correctly, but Coder does not distinguish between processes started in the workspace and processes started in a child container in the logs.
  • With envbox workspaces, this feature will detect and log startup processes begun in the outer container (including container initialization processes).
  • Because this feature logs all processes in the workspace, high levels of usage (e.g., during a make run) will result in an abundance of output in the sidecar container. Depending on how your Kubernetes cluster is configured, you may incur extra charges from your cloud provider to store the additional logs.
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