Writing Programs with Echo (DOS)

How do you input those characters as parameters for the echo command? I found no way of doing that. If you know a way, please drop me a line.

Is that possible? Yes, it is. It’s just a matter of redirecting echo output to a file. Writing the program with echo should be a straightforward task if we are able to produce the sequence of characters corresponding to the intended binary, executable file. Is that useful? Surely not. But it’s a healthy way to waste your time 🙂 This can be achieved by writing the characters of the executable file, using a simple text editor like notepad or even the old MS-DOS Editor. Of course, the program should be relatively small or we would adventure into the dangerous lands of masochism. By using the echo command of DOS we will be following the conceited style of doing things 🙂 But we’ll restrict this post to the simple hello, world! program we have been reviewing in previous entries.

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Encoding Intel x86/IA-32 Assembler Instructions

Translation of the second line is a direct and solved issue. What about jmp 114? Well, we want to jump over the data (18 bytes, one byte per each character in the string.) IASDM tell us (Appendix B) that the opcode for unconditional jumps in the same segment is 11101011, which in hexadecimal, is expressed as EB.

On the post Debugging hello, world, someone asked about the reason for translating the instruction jmp 114 into hexadecimal EB12. To answer this, we are going to recur to the “lovely” and elder Intel Architecture Software Developer Manual (IASDM), Volume 2. This volume describes the instructions set of the Intel Architecture processor (x86/IA-32) and the opcode structure. I’ll review some terms involved here:

    x86: It refers to the instruction set of the Intel-compatible CPU architectures (chips produced by Intel, AMD, VIA, and others) inaugurated by Intel’s original 16-bit 8086 CPU. A decision which proved wise was to make each new instance of x86 processors almost fully backwards compatible.
    IA-32: It is Intel’s 32-bit implementation of the x86 architecture; IA-32 distinguishes this implementation from the preceding 16-bit x86 processors. Note that when the 64-bit era arrived, Intel launched its Itanium processor, which discards compatibility with the IA-32 instruction set. Such 64-bit architecture description and implementation is referred to as IA-64, meaning “Intel Architecture, 64-bit”, but even though the names are similar, IA-32 and IA-64 are very different architectures and instructions sets. However, AMD’s response to Intel 64-bit processors, uses an instruction set that, in essence, is composed of 64-bit extensions to IA-32, i.e., it’s a superset of the x86 instruction set. Such instruction set is referred to as AMD64 (initially, x86-64.) Later, Intel cloned it under the name Intel 64. AMD’s processors Athlon 64, Terium, Opteron, Sempron, etc., are based on AMD64.
    Opcode: An opcode (operation code) is the part of a machine language instruction (pure binary code) specifying the operation to be performed. The other portion of the instruction is the operand, which is optional and represents the data to be operated on. In assembly language, mnemonics are used to represent the opcodes. Concretely, and according to the IASDM, a mnemonic is a reserved name for a class of instruction opcodes which have the same function. For example, in JMP 114, the mnemonic is JMP, and the operand is 114 (remember, 114 in hexadecimal, which is 276 in decimal.)

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