Assembly - System Calls
System calls are APIs for the interface between the user space and the kernel space. We have already used the system calls. sys_write and sys_exit, for writing into the screen and exiting from the program, respectively.
Linux System Calls
You can make use of Linux system calls in your assembly programs. You need to take the following steps for using Linux system calls in your program −
- Put the system call number in the EAX register.
- Store the arguments to the system call in the registers EBX, ECX, etc.
- Call the relevant interrupt (80h).
- The result is usually returned in the EAX register.
There are six registers that store the arguments of the system call used. These are the EBX, ECX, EDX, ESI, EDI, and EBP. These registers take the consecutive arguments, starting with the EBX register. If there are more than six arguments, then the memory location of the first argument is stored in the EBX register.
The following code snippet shows the use of the system call sys_exit −
mov eax,1 ; system call number (sys_exit) int 0x80 ; call kernel
The following code snippet shows the use of the system call sys_write −
mov edx,4 ; message length mov ecx,msg ; message to write mov ebx,1 ; file descriptor (stdout) mov eax,4 ; system call number (sys_write) int 0x80 ; call kernel
All the syscalls are listed in /usr/include/asm/unistd.h, together with their numbers (the value to put in EAX before you call int 80h).
The following table shows some of the system calls used in this tutorial −
|3||sys_read||unsigned int||char *||size_t||-||-|
|4||sys_write||unsigned int||const char *||size_t||-||-|
|5||sys_open||const char *||int||int||-||-|
The following example reads a number from the keyboard and displays it on the screen −
section .data ;Data segment userMsg db 'Please enter a number: ' ;Ask the user to enter a number lenUserMsg equ $-userMsg ;The length of the message dispMsg db 'You have entered: ' lenDispMsg equ $-dispMsg section .bss ;Uninitialized data num resb 5 section .text ;Code Segment global _start _start: ;User prompt mov eax, 4 mov ebx, 1 mov ecx, userMsg mov edx, lenUserMsg int 80h ;Read and store the user input mov eax, 3 mov ebx, 2 mov ecx, num mov edx, 5 ;5 bytes (numeric, 1 for sign) of that information int 80h ;Output the message 'The entered number is: ' mov eax, 4 mov ebx, 1 mov ecx, dispMsg mov edx, lenDispMsg int 80h ;Output the number entered mov eax, 4 mov ebx, 1 mov ecx, num mov edx, 5 int 80h ; Exit code mov eax, 1 mov ebx, 0 int 80h
When the above code is compiled and executed, it produces the following result −
Please enter a number: 1234 You have entered:1234