NASM - The Netwide Assembler2.10

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NASM - The Netwide Assembler is 80x86 assembler designed for portability and modularity.





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NASM is an 80x86 assembler designed for portability and modularity. The project supports a range of object file formats including Linux a.out and ELF, COFF, Microsoft 16-bit OBJ and Win32. It will also output plain binary files.

Its syntax is designed to be simple and easy to understand, similar to Intel's but less complex. It supports Pentium, P6, MMX, 3DNow! and SSE opcodes, and has macro capability. It includes a disassembler as well.

The Netwide Assembler grew out of an idea on comp.lang.asm.x86 (or possibly alt.lang.asm - I forget which), which was essentially that there didn't seem to be a good free x86-series assembler around, and that maybe someone ought to write one.

- a86 is good, but not free, and in particular you don't get any 32-bit capability until you pay. It's DOS only, too.
- gas is free, and ports over DOS and Unix, but it's not very good, since it's designed to be a back end to gcc, which always feeds it correct code. So its error checking is minimal. Also, its syntax is horrible, from the point of view of anyone trying to actually write anything in it. Plus you can't write 16-bit code in it (properly).
- as86 is Minix- and Linux-specific, and (my version at least) doesn't seem to have much (or any) documentation.
- MASM isn't very good, and it's (was) expensive, and it runs only under DOS.
- TASM is better, but still strives for MASM compatibility, which means millions of directives and tons of red tape. And its syntax is essentially MASM's, with the contradictions and quirks that entails (although it sorts out some of those by means of Ideal mode). It's expensive too. And it's DOS-only.

So here, for your coding pleasure, is NASM. At present it's still in prototype stage - we don't promise that it can outperform any of these assemblers. But please, please send us bug reports, fixes, helpful information, and anything else you can get your hands on (and thanks to the many people who've done this already! You all know who you are), and we'll improve it out of all recognition. Again.

Installing NASM under Unix

Once you've obtained the Unix source archive for NASM, nasm-X.XX.tar.gz (where X.XX denotes the version number of NASM contained in the archive), unpack it into a directory such as /usr/local/src. The archive, when unpacked, will create its own subdirectory nasm-X.XX.

NASM is an auto-configuring package: once you've unpacked it, cd to the directory it's been unpacked into and type ./configure. This shell script will find the best C compiler to use for building NASM and set up Makefiles accordingly.

Once NASM has auto-configured, you can type make to build the nasm and ndisasm binaries, and then make install to install them in /usr/local/bin and install the man pages nasm.1 and ndisasm.1 in /usr/local/man/man1. Alternatively, you can give options such as --prefix to the configure script (see the file INSTALL for more details), or install the programs yourself.

NASM also comes with a set of utilities for handling the RDOFF custom object-file format, which are in the rdoff subdirectory of the NASM archive. You can build these with make rdf and install them with make rdf_install, if you want them.

If NASM fails to auto-configure, you may still be able to make it compile by using the fall-back Unix makefile Makefile.unx. Copy or rename that file to Makefile and try typing make. There is also a Makefile.unx file in the rdoff subdirectory.
Last updated on March 19th, 2012

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