Inspektor Gadget relies on the Kubernetes API server to work. However, there are some cases where it is necessary, or preferred, to trace containers without passing through Kubernetes. In such scenarios, you can use the ig tool, as it allows you to collect insights from the nodes to debug your Kubernetes containers without relying on Kubernetes itself, but on the container runtimes. It is important to remark that ig can also be used to trace containers that were not created via Kubernetes.

    Some characteristics of the ig:

    • It uses eBPF as its underlying core technology.
    • Enriches the collected data with the Kubernetes metadata.
    • Easy to install as it is a single binary (statically linked).

    The architecture of ig is described in the main architecture document.

    Use cases

    • In a Kubernetes environment, when the Kubernetes API server is not working properly, we cannot deploy Inspektor Gadget. Therefore, we still need a way to debug the containers of the cluster.
    • In some cases, you might have root SSH access to the Kubernetes nodes of a cluster, but not to the kubeconfig.
    • If you are implementing an application that needs to get insights from the Kubernetes node, you could include the ig binary in your container image, and your app simply execs it. In such a case, it is suggested to use the JSON output format to ease the parsing.
    • Outside a Kubernetes environment, for observing and debugging standalone containers.


    The instruction to install ig are available in the main installation guide.


    Currently, the ig can trace containers managed by Docker regardless of whether they were created via Kubernetes or not. In addition, it can also use the CRI to trace containers managed by containerd and CRI-O, meaning only the ones created via Kubernetes. Support for non-Kubernetes containers with containerd is coming, see issue #734 .

    By default, the ig will try to communicate with the Docker Engine API and the CRI API of containerd and CRI-O:

    $ docker run -d --name myContainer nginx:1.21
    $ sudo ig list-containers
    WARN[0000] Runtime enricher (cri-o): couldn't get current containers
    RUNTIME       ID               NAME
    containerd    7766d32caded4    calico-kube-controllers
    containerd    2e3e4968b456f    calico-node
    containerd    d3be7741b94ff    coredns
    containerd    e7be3e4dc1bb4    coredns
    containerd    fb4fe41921f30    etcd
    containerd    136e7944d2077    kube-apiserver
    containerd    ad8709a2c2ded    kube-controller-manager
    containerd    66cf05654a47f    kube-proxy
    containerd    a68bed42aa6b2    kube-scheduler
    docker        95b814bb82b9e    myContainer

    This output shows the containers ig retrieved from Docker and containerd, while the warning message tells us that ig tried to communicate with CRI-O but couldn’t. In this case, it was because CRI-O was not running in the system where we executed the test. However, it could also happen if ig uses a different UNIX socket path to communicate with the runtimes. To check which paths ig is using, you can use the --help flag:

    $ sudo ig list-containers --help
    List all containers
      ig list-containers [flags]
          --containerd-socketpath string   containerd CRI Unix socket path (default "/run/containerd/containerd.sock")
          --crio-socketpath string         CRI-O CRI Unix socket path (default "/run/crio/crio.sock")
          --docker-socketpath string       Docker Engine API Unix socket path (default "/run/docker.sock")
      -r, --runtimes string                Container runtimes to be used separated by comma. Supported values are: docker, containerd, cri-o (default "docker,containerd,cri-o")
      -w, --watch                          After listing the containers, watch for new containers

    If needed, we can also specify the runtimes to be used and their UNIX socket path:

    $ sudo ig list-containers --runtimes docker --docker-socketpath /some/path/docker.sock
    RUNTIME    ID               NAME
    docker     95b814bb82b9e    myContainer

    Common features

    Notice that most of the commands support the following features even if, for simplicity, they are not demonstrated in each command guide:

    • JSON format and custom-columns output mode are supported through the --output flag.
    • It is possible to filter events by container name using the --containername flag.

    For instance, for the list-containers command:

    $ sudo ig list-containers -o json --containername etcd
        "runtime": "containerd",
        "id": "fef9c7f66e0d68c554b7ea48cc3ef4e77c553957807de7f05ad0210a05d8c215",
        "pid": 1611,
        "mntns": 4026532270,
        "netns": 4026531992,
        "cgroupPath": "/sys/fs/cgroup/unified/system.slice/containerd.service",
        "cgroupID": 854,
        "cgroupV1": "/system.slice/containerd.service/kubepods-burstable-pod87a960e902bbb19289771a77e4b07353.slice:cri-containerd:fef9c7f66e0d68c554b7ea48cc3ef4e77c553957807de7f05ad0210a05d8c215",
        "cgroupV2": "/system.slice/containerd.service",
        "namespace": "kube-system",
        "podname": "etcd-master",
        "name": "etcd",
        "podUID": "87a960e902bbb19289771a77e4b07353"