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This is a file dump program written in assembly that displays 320 bytes at a time in 20 lines. It shows the hex code for each character and also the string

At the start of the program it asks for the name of the file and starts dumping. After each dump it asks if they want to see more.

x86 64bit NASM

%macro input 1
    push rax
    push rdi
    push rsi
    push rdx
    mov eax, SYSREAD
    mov edi, 1
    mov esi, buffer2
    mov edx, 20
    syscall
    mov esi, buffer2
    mov edi, %1

    ; this loop makes sure the string is the correct size
    %%loop:
        cmp byte [esi], 0
        je %%exitinput
        cmp byte [esi], 10
        je %%exitinput
        movsb
        jmp %%loop
    %%exitinput:
    pop rdx
    pop rsi
    pop rdi
    pop rax
%endmacro

%macro print 2
    push rdi
    push rax
    push rdi
    push rdx
    push rsi
    push rcx
    mov esi, %1
    mov eax, SYSWRITE
    mov edi, 1
    mov edx, %2
    syscall
    pop rcx
    pop rsi
    pop rdx
    pop rdi
    pop rax
    pop rdi
%endmacro

%macro exit 0
    mov rax, 60
    mov rdi, 0
    syscall
%endmacro

section .bss 
    hex resb 2
    alert resb 16
    char resb 1
    filename resb 20
    buffer resb 320

SYSREAD equ 0
SYSWRITE equ 1
SYSOPEN equ 2

section .data
    TABLE db "0123456789ABCDEF", 0
    log db "Show more? (y/n)", 10, 0
    loglen equ $ -log

section .text
    global _start 

    _start:
        input filename
        
        mov eax, 2
        mov rdi, filename
        mov rsi, 0
        mov edx, 0777
        syscall


        mov ebx, TABLE
        push rax
        program:   
            mov eax, SYSREAD
            pop rdi
            push rdi
            mov esi, buffer
            mov edx, 320
            syscall
            ; check for end of file
            cmp eax, 0
            je eof
            mov edi, buffer

            ; print 20 lines
            mov ecx, 20
            printer: 
                call displayhex    
                print space, 1
                print alert, 16
                print newline, 1    
            loop printer


        print log, loglen
        input char
        cmp byte [char], "y"
        je program

        eof:
        exit


        displayhex:
            push rcx
            ; string characters stored here
            mov esi, alert
            
            ; get 16 characters from file
            mov ecx, 16
            loop:
                push rcx
                mov al, [edi]

                cmp al, 10
                je addspace
                cmp al, 13
                je continue
                mov [esi], al
                jmp continue
                addspace:
                mov byte [esi], 32
                continue:

                ; convert ascii decimal to ascii hex
                mov cx, 16
                cwd
                div cx
                push rax
                mov al, dl
                xlat
                mov [hex + 1], al
                pop rax
                cwd
                div cx
                mov al, dl
                xlat
                mov [hex], al

                
                print space, 1
                print hex, 2

                end:
                inc esi
                inc edi
                pop rcx
                dec ecx
                cmp ecx, 0
                jnz loop

            pop rcx
            ret
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  • \$\begingroup\$ As mentioned in Edward's review, please post complete code when asking for a review \$\endgroup\$ Jun 17, 2022 at 16:04

1 Answer 1

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Here are some things that may help you improve your program.

Make sure your code is complete

If you're going to ask for a code review, it should be your complete, best code to be respectful of the time reviewers spend looking it over. This code was incomplete and was missing definitions for buffer2, space and newline. It was not too hard to figure those out and define them, but it's a sign that maybe this code isn't actually ready for review.

Avoid the use of "magic numbers"

This code is littered with "magic numbers," that is, unnamed constants such as 0777, 320, 20, etc. Generally it's better to avoid that and give such constants meaningful names. That way, if anything ever needs to be changed, you won't have to go hunting through the code for all instances of "20" and then trying to determine if this particular 20 means the length of the filename buffer or some other constant that happens to have the same value.

Add comments

There are very few comments in this program and lots of "magic numbers" making it much harder to read than it should be. The use of macros helps, however, and is a good practice I would encourage you to continue.

Fix the bugs

There are at least two bugs in this program. The first is that there is a wrong file descriptor number used in the input macro (0 is stdin, 1 is stdout). The second is that for files that are not a multiple of 320 bytes long, the last partial block is shown overlaid on top of the last full block which gives the user bad information.

Add error handling

If the user gives the name of a nonexistent file (or doesn't have read permissions, etc.) the file open call will fail and an error number will be returned in rax. You should check the return values generally to see if they have failed and handle the error appropriately.

Eliminate useless code

The input of the filename receives data into buffer2 and then copies it into filename. Why not just receive it into filename directly and eliminate the copy? Also, the code has these two lines:

pop rdi
push rdi

Rather than storing the handle on the stack and accessing it in this strange way, just put it in r9 and replace this with:

mov rdi, r9

Think of the user

The human interface for this program is not great. For instance, there is no prompt to indicate that the computer is waiting for a filename, and the user is asked whether or not to display more data even though the computer already knows there is no more data. Fixing these would make this a much more usable program. Also consider that a typical Linux command might be used in a script or with a human sitting at the keyboard. For that reason, I'd suggest getting the input filename optionally as a command line argument (otherwise read from stdin) and optionally eliminate the prompt-per-block.

Reduce system calls

The output code is rather slow and inefficient because it writes one or two characters at a time. Better would be to create an output buffer and then invoke the syscall to print an entire buffer at a time. It doesn't matter much for a program that is run at "human speed" like this is, but if you're writing in assembly language, efficiency is usually one of the goals.

Document register use

When you have things like pop rdi and push rdi keeping a variable on the stack instead of in an unused register, it tells me (and it should tell you!) that you could make better use of the registers available to you. Comments will help you; I often write comment blocks above labeled lines (jump targets) that tell what I'm expecting to be in each register and on the stack. It really helps debugging code like this. Ideally, you'd assign some purpose to each register and then use them only for that purpose in the entire rest of the code.

Document macro parameters

In what I believe was a design error, nasm's macros use numbered rather than named parameters. For that reason, we have to refer to parameters as %1 and %2 rather than, say, buffer and bufferlength. To make up for this deficit, documenting macro parameters in the form of comments is vital for others to be able to understand your program.

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