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Tutorial #1: Writing your first PxL script

In this tutorial series, we will write a PxL script to analyze the volume of traffic coming in and out of each pod in your cluster (total bytes received vs total bytes sent). In this first tutorial, we will write a script to query a table of traced network connection data provided by Pixie's no-instrumentation monitoring platform.

Writing Your First PxL Script

  1. Create a new PxL file called my_first_script.pxl:
touch my_first_script.pxl
  1. Open this file in your favorite editor and add the following lines. To copy the code, hover over the top-right corner of the codeblock and click the copy icon.
1# Import Pixie's module for querying data
2import px
4# Load the last 30 seconds of Pixie's `conn_stats` table into a Dataframe.
5df = px.DataFrame(table='conn_stats', start_time='-30s')
7# Display the DataFrame with table formatting

Every script begins witih importing Pixie's px module. This is Pixie's main library for querying data.

Pixie's scripts are written using the Pixie Language (PxL), a DSL that follows the API of the the popular Python data processing library Pandas. Pandas uses DataFrames to represent tables of data.

On line 5 we load the last 30 seconds of the data from the conn_stats table into a DataFrame. The conn_stats table contains high-level statistics about the connections (i.e. client-server pairs) that Pixie has traced in your cluster.

Finally, we display the table using px.display().

  1. Run this script using Pixie's Live CLI. If you aren't familiar with Pixie's CLI tool, check out Navigating the CLI.
px live -f my_first_script.pxl

Your CLI should output something similar to the following table:

Output of my_first_script.pxl in the Live CLI.

If your output table is empty, try increasing the value of the start_time string on line 5. Save the script, exit the Live CLI using ctrl+c, and re-run Step 3.

Inspecting the Output

This script outputs a table of data representing the last 30 seconds of the traced client-server connections in your cluster. Columns include:

  • time_: Timestamp when the data record was collected.
  • upid An opaque numeric ID that globally identifies a running process inside the cluster.
  • remote_addr: IP address of the remote endpoint.
  • remote_port: Port of the remote endpoint.
  • addr_family: The socket address family of the connection.
  • protocol: The protocol of the traffic on the connections.
  • role: The role of the process that owns the connection (client=1 or server=2).
  • conn_open: The number of connections opened since the beginning of tracing.
  • conn_close: The number of connections closed since the beginning of tracing.
  • conn_active: The number of active connections.
  • bytes_sent: The number of bytes sent to the remote endpoint(s).
  • bytes_recv: The number of bytes received from the remote endpoint(s).

(Optional) Running px/schemas

You can find these column descriptions as well as descriptions for all of the data provided by Pixie by running the pre-built px/schemas script:

  1. Exit the Live CLI using ctrl+c
  2. Run the px/schemas script:
px live px/schemas
  1. Use the keyboard arrows to scroll down through the output table until you reach conn_stats in the table_name column. You should see all of the columns available in the conn_stats table listed with their descriptions.
conn_stats table schema from the px/schemas script.

More Fun with DataFrames

DataFrame initialization supports end_time for queries requiring more precise time periods. If an end_time isn't provided, the DataFrame will return all events up to the current time.

1import px
3df = px.DataFrame(table='conn_stats', start_time='-60s', end_time='-30s')

Don't forget to save your script, exit the Live CLI using ctrl+c, and re-run the script px live -f ~/my_first_script.pxl to update the results.

You can drop columns using the df.drop() command.

1import px
3df = px.DataFrame(table='conn_stats', start_time='-30s')
5# Drop select columns
6df = df.drop(['conn_open', 'conn_close', 'bytes_sent', 'bytes_recv'])

Alternatively, you can use keep to return a DataFrame with only the specified columns. This can be used to reorder the columns in the output.

1import px
3df = px.DataFrame(table='conn_stats', start_time='-30s')
5# Keep only the select columns
6df = df[['remote_addr', 'conn_open', 'conn_close']]

If you only need a few columns from a table, use the DataFrame's select argument instead.

1import px
3# Populate the DataFrame with only the select columns from the `conn_stats` table
4df = px.DataFrame(table='conn_stats', select=['remote_addr', 'conn_open', 'conn_close'], start_time='-30s')

To filter the rows in the DataFrame by the role column:

1import px
3df = px.DataFrame(table='conn_stats', start_time='-30s')
5# Filter the results to only include rows whose `role` value equals 1 (connections traced on the client-side)
6df = df[df.role == 1]

If you want to see a small sample of data, you can limit the number of rows in the returned DataFrame to the first n rows (line 4).

1import px
3df = px.DataFrame(table='conn_stats', start_time='-30s')
5# Limit the number of rows in the DataFrame to 100
6df = df.head(100)


Congratulations, you built your first script!

In part 2 of this tutorial, we will expand this script to produce a table that summarizes the total amount of traffic coming in and out of each of the pods in your cluster.

This video summarizes the content in part 1 and part 2 of this tutorial:

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