Category : Assembly Language Source Code
Archive   : D86V372.ZIP
Filename : D03.DOC

Output of file : D03.DOC contained in archive : D86V372.ZIP

System Requirements for D86

D86 currently requires either an IBM-PC or compatible computer, a
Texas Instruments TI-PC, a Wang PC, a Tandy 2000, a DEC Rainbow,
a Sirius/Vector 9000, a Zenith Z-100--ET-100, or a Sanyo 550 or
555 computer. The computer must be running MS-DOS V2.00 or
later. The IBM compatibility must exist at the BIOS and video
interface levels: D86 calls the BIOS to obtain keystrokes and
video status information; and, on an IBM-PC, D86 writes directly
to video memory at segment 0B000 (if the BIOS says monochrome) or
0B800 (if color).

If your MS-DOS machine is not one of the above-mentioned specific
models, chances are it's an IBM-compatible and you'll run D86
just fine. For example, all of the "clone" computers released in
the last several years are IBM-compatible. If it is one of the
above non-IBM models, D86 has special BIOS code for your
computer, invoked via the +B switch described the section "BIOS
Switching" later in this Chapter.

D86 is fairly flexible about memory management. If there is
enough memory, D86 will take the combined sizes of D86.COM and
A86.COM (currently about 38K bytes), plus 64K bytes for its own
stack, and leave the rest for the program being debugged. If
memory is tight, D86 will reduce the memory allocated to its own
stack, down to a minimum of 16K bytes. The segment occupied by
the program being debugged will be similarly reduced. If the
program is a COM file, you can tell this by the initial SP value,
which is 0FFFE if there is a full 64K, less if there isn't.
Thus, D86 will work with as little as 70K bytes beyond the
operating system; but the symbols capacity and the program's
memory will be severely limited in that case. It is best to have
at least 166K bytes of memory available when D86 is running.

Invoking D86

You invoke D86 by issuing the command

D86 [+Bn] [+V] [progname [command-tail]]

where progname is the name of the program you are debugging. In
other words, you type a program invocation line just as if you
were about to execute the program without a debugger, except that
you append D86 before the line. The B and V switches can appear
in either order.

The following sections describe in detail the elements of the D86
invocation line, and how D86 acts on them.

Finding the Program File

On most other debuggers, you have to give the full file name,
with an explicit extension and a specific directory. With D86,
you don't: D86 uses almost the same algorithm for locating a
program file that COMMAND.COM does:

1. Look for COM, then EXE, then BAT in the current directory.

2. Look for COM, then EXE, then BAT in each directory in turn
given in the PATH environment variable.

The one difference is that D86 will look only for one extension
if you give an explicit extension (and it doesn't have to be COM,
EXE, or BAT). COMMAND.COM ignores the extension you give-- I
thought that was just too absurd, and didn't duplicate it.

A strange feature that I did duplicate is COMMAND.COM's lack of
concern for whether the program is named COM or EXE. If the
program file begins with a valid EXE header, it's treated as an
EXE no matter what it is named. If not, then it's treated as a
COM file.

D86 provides limited support for BAT files. (That's better than
other debuggers, which provide no support.) If your program is a
BAT file, D86 reads the first line of the file and pretends that
that was what you typed following "D86" in your invocation. The
D86 status screen (gotten via Ctrl-S) gives you this line, and
tells you what BAT file it came from.

The BAT file limitations are that D86 doesn't skip over remark
lines, doesn't substitute batch-file parameters, and doesn't
perform console redirection specified in the batch-file line.

You can also invoke D86 with no progname. The debugger comes up
with no program loaded, allowing you to simply poke around the

If D86 had a problem loading your program, you'll see all NOPs in
memory instead of instructions. You can type Ctrl-S to get the
status screen that tells you what the problem was.

Finding the Symbols File

D86 is a symbolic debugger. It uses a special .SYM file produced
in one of three ways: First, if your program was produced by
A86, then the .SYM file was produced by A86 at the same time.
Second, if your program was produced by a high-level language
such as Pascal or C, you can feed the linker's .MAP listing to
the special MAPD86 tool, available to registered D86 users only.
Third, you can "reverse engineer" a program by adding symbols
while in D86's patch mode, then create a .SYM file with D86's W

When invoked, D86 looks for a file with the program's name and a
.SYM extension. D86 first looks in the current directory for
this file, and then in each directory specified in the PATH
environment variable. It is not necessary for the SYM file to
exist. If there is no SYM file, the debugger simply comes up
with no user symbols defined. You'll also get no user symbols if
the SYM file was not of a correct format (it wasn't produced in
one of the ways mentioned in the previous paragraph, or it has
been corrupted in some way). If you were expecting symbols and
didn't get any, you can press Ctrl-S to get the status screen
that tells you what the problem was.

BIOS Switching

Some of the non-IBM computers named at the start of this chapter
are automatically detected by D86, so you shouldn't need any
special action to use D86 with them. Others have no obvious
identifying features to them, so that you need to tell D86 that
you're using that computer. You do so with the switch +B
following by one of the following machine numbers:

4 for the IBM-PC (automatic)
5 for the Wang-PC (automatic)
6 for the Texas Instruments PC (automatic)
7 for the Tandy 2000 (automatic)
8 for the Sanyo 550 or 555
9 for the Sirius/Victor 9000
10 for the DEC Rainbow (automatic)
12 for the Zenith Z-100 and ET-100

Machines marked "automatic" are automatically detected by D86, so
you shouldn't need the B switch for them (but I give one anyway
just for safety).

For example, if you're running on a Sanyo, you invoke D86 via

D86 +B8 progname

Incidentally, the Sanyo interface is of interest because the BIOS
is IBM-compatible but the video isn't. So invoking +B8 causes
all video output to go through the BIOS, which is slow but it
works on all IBM compatibles as well. So if D86 doesn't work on
your BIOS-compatible machine, you can try the +B8 switch.

The D86 Environment Variable

You can make your +B setting (and, for that matter, a +V setting)
automatic by placing it into a DOS environment variable called
D86. For example, if you run on a Sanyo, you issue the command

SET D86=+B8

to the DOS prompt. You can make the setting permanent by placing
the above line into the AUTOEXEC.BAT file on your system disk.

Two-Screen Debugging with +V

The +V option can be used if you have both a monochrome and a
color monitor. You invoke D86 when the operating system is on
one monitor-- with the +V switch, the debugger will appear on the
other monitor, and program console output will appear on the
operating system's monitor.

In order for the +V option to work, you must initialize both
screens by MODEing to them sometime after powering up the
machine. You should also make sure that the blinking cursor is at
the bottom of the screen on which the debugger will appear (the
simplest way to do this is to type ENTER until the prompt gets to
the bottom). If you can suppress the blinking cursor, that's
even better. See in your DOS operating manual for instructions
on how to use MODE to switch between screens. D86 doesn't do the
initialization, because I couldn't figure out how to get the BIOS
to do so without blanking the screen, and you might not want the
screen blanked every time you start a D86 session.

The D86 Screen Display

When D86 starts up, it generates a full-screen display, and
awaits your debugger commands.

In the top part of the screen is a symbolic disassembly of the
A86 program, with the screen cursor positioned next to the
instruction pointed to by the 8086 instruction pointer.

In the lower left corner is a fixed display of the complete 8086
register set.

At the top of the second column of the register-set display is a
display of the 8086 flags. Each flag displays as blank if the
flag is off; a lower case letter if the flag is on:

o for overflow,
d for direction,
i for interrupts enabled,
s for sign,
z for zero,
a for auxiliary carry,
e for parity even, and
c for carry.

Across the bottom line of the screen is a display of the contents
of the user stack. The display begins next to the SP register
value, with the number of elements on the stack. (The stack is
assumed to have 0 elements when SP is at its original value,
which is 0FFFE for COM files, and a value specified in the header
record for EXE files). The number of elements is followed by a
colon, followed by as many of the top stack elements as fits on
the line. The initial display will have zero elements; nothing
is yet on the stack.

To the right of the registers are 6 lines, numbered 1 through 6.
On these lines, you can generate windows into 8086 memory,
displaying bytes, words, or ASCII text in a variety of formats.
The windows can be located either at absolute memory locations,
or be pointed to by any of the 8086 registers. The commands you
issue to generate these windows are described in Chapter 6.

D86 Commands

There are 5 kinds of activities you perform in D86:

1. Issuing assembly language commands for immediate execution

2. Issuing debugger commands via lines that begin with a
single letter

3. Issuing debugger commands via the function, Ctrl, and
cursor-control keys on your keyboard

4. Setting up windows that display memory

5. Issuing assembly language commands to enter into memory

Immediate Assembly Language Commands

A primary part of the D86 command language is the A86 assembly
language. With it, you can jump to different areas of your
program, set your registers, perform arithmetic, and call any of
the procedures of your program. Simply type in any legal A86
instruction, and it will be executed immediately.

JMP and RET instructions cause the program counter (and thus also
the disassembly) to move to the indicated destination. CALL
instructions cause the entire procedure to be executed.

WARNING: The immediate-execution feature is a little tricky if
you are in a multi-segment program, or if you jump to exotic
parts of the 86 memory space (i.e., into MSDOS, ROM, video
memory, or the interrupts table). This is because D86 needs a
buffer in which to put the immediate-execution command. The
buffer should be in your program's CS segment, so that commands
such as jumps and near calls execute correctly. So D86 must
always search in CS for a satisfactory buffer. Here is how D86
finds it:

1. If you declare a label D86_BUFFER, pointing to a buffer
within your program, then D86 will use that buffer as the
offset for its immediate instruction.

2. If not, then if the program's CS register is the same as its
SS register, D86 will use (SP-300) as its immediate buffer.
Thus, your stack should have plenty of room (a good practice
in general).

3. As a last resort, D86 uses offset 00E0, which points to the
last 32 bytes of the Program Segment Prefix (PSP). In that
case, if you were to issue an immediate command that reads
from a disk file, you would be in trouble, because the
disk-read operation clobbers the PSP, and the command would
not be trapped back to the debugger.

In cases 1 and 3 above, the segment containing the buffer is
the program's CS segment, unless that is out of range (below
the program's original CS, or above the top of available
program memory). If the program CS is out of range, the
program's original CS is used instead. In that case, immediate
instructions such JMP, RET, and CALL will not work correctly.

Note that the above caveats do not apply to single stepping.

Entering Instructions Into Memory

D86 allows you to alter 8086 memory in two ways: first, you can
issue immediate assembly language commands which, when executed,
store values in memory. The other method is to enter a special
mode, in which you enter instructions directly into 8086 memory.

You enter this mode by typing the F7 (PatchMem) key. The screen
cursor jumps from the left edge of the line at the current
program counter, into the middle of the line where the
instruction is. You start typing over the instruction, to signal
that you are clobbering the instruction that was there. If you
did not intend to enter this mode, you can backspace back to the
start of the instruction, and type a carriage return.

Each line you type in is checked for errors. If there was an
error, a message is displayed, the cursor remains at the same
location, and you try again. If there was no error, the cursor
moves beyond the newly-assembled line, and you can type in
another line.

To exit the memory programming mode, you type any of the control
key commands at the beginning of the line.

Entering Data into 8086 Memory

You can deposit data into the 8086 memory space by using the
programming mode described in the above section. Simply enter DB
and/or DW statements instead of instructions. Note that ASCII
strings can be entered with the DB instruction; and that arrays
can be initialized via the DUP operator in a DB or DW statement.

Adding Symbols to a Program

Patch mode also allows you to do something that you cannot do in
immediate execution mode: add symbols to the program. You can do
so by either:

1. Typing in a new symbol name, followed by a colon; or

2. Typing in an EQU directive.

There are several uses for this. First, you might want to create
an abbreviation, by equating a short name to a long one, or to a
hard-to-remember constant value. Second, you might want to
"reverse engineer" a program for which you have a .COM file, but
not the A86 source code. Each time you add a label, the
disassembly becomes more readable. Third, you might want to
label code that you have added in patch mode.

After you have added symbols to the table, you can save the
resulting expanded table with the W command. Simply type W
followed by the ENTER key at the main debugger command level.

Forward referencing is allowed when you are in patch mode. You
must be careful, however, to resolve any forward references you
have made. In particular, you will cause the assembler to become
very confused if you overwrite a forward reference with some
other code before you resolve the reference. So don't!

  3 Responses to “Category : Assembly Language Source Code
Archive   : D86V372.ZIP
Filename : D03.DOC

  1. Very nice! Thank you for this wonderful archive. I wonder why I found it only now. Long live the BBS file archives!

  2. This is so awesome! 😀 I’d be cool if you could download an entire archive of this at once, though.

  3. But one thing that puzzles me is the “mtswslnkmcjklsdlsbdmMICROSOFT” string. There is an article about it here. It is definitely worth a read: