Roll Your Own Bootloader


Here we will be going through the process of creating a very basic boot-loader. There will be no funny options added in the code. Just the bare essentials to get a boot rolling. I have created two source files in x86 assembly: kernel.asm and main.asm. My goal was to learn a little about OS development at more or less the lowest level you can go. I’ve added comments throughout the code to help explain what exactly is going on.

Here is kernel.asm:

mov ax, 0x07C0  ; set up segments
mov ds, ax
mov es, ax

mov si, welcome
call print_string

mov si, prompt
call print_string

mov di, buffer
call get_string

mov si, buffer
cmp byte [si], 0  ; blank line?
je mainloop       ; yes, ignore it

mov si, buffer
mov di, cmd_hi  ; "hi" command
call strcmp
jc .helloworld

mov si, buffer
mov di, cmd_help  ; "help" command
call strcmp
jc .help

mov si,badcommand
call print_string
jmp mainloop

mov si, msg_helloworld
call print_string

jmp mainloop

mov si, msg_help
call print_string

jmp mainloop

welcome db 'Welcome to My OS!', 0x0D, 0x0A, 0
msg_helloworld db 'Hello OSDev World!', 0x0D, 0x0A, 0
badcommand db 'Bad command entered.', 0x0D, 0x0A, 0
prompt db '>', 0
cmd_hi db 'hi', 0
cmd_help db 'help', 0
msg_help db 'My OS: Commands: hi, help', 0x0D, 0x0A, 0
buffer times 64 db 0

; ================
; calls start here
; ================

lodsb        ; grab a byte from SI

or al, al  ; logical or AL by itself
jz .done   ; if the result is zero, get out

mov ah, 0x0E
int 0x10      ; otherwise, print out the character!

jmp print_string


xor cl, cl

mov ah, 0
int 0x16   ; wait for keypress

cmp al, 0x08    ; backspace pressed?
je .backspace   ; yes, handle it

cmp al, 0x0D  ; enter pressed?
je .done      ; yes, we're done

cmp cl, 0x3F  ; 63 chars inputted?
je .loop      ; yes, only let in backspace and enter

mov ah, 0x0E
int 0x10      ; print out character

stosb  ; put character in buffer
inc cl
jmp .loop

cmp cl, 0    ; beginning of string?
je .loop    ; yes, ignore the key

dec di
mov byte [di], 0    ; delete character
dec cl        ; decrement counter as well

mov ah, 0x0E
mov al, 0x08
int 10h        ; backspace on the screen

mov al, ' '
int 10h        ; blank character out

mov al, 0x08
int 10h        ; backspace again

jmp .loop    ; go to the main loop

mov al, 0    ; null terminator

mov ah, 0x0E
mov al, 0x0D
int 0x10
mov al, 0x0A
int 0x10        ; newline


mov al, [si]   ; grab a byte from SI
mov bl, [di]   ; grab a byte from DI
cmp al, bl     ; are they equal?
jne .notequal  ; nope, we're done.

cmp al, 0  ; are both bytes (they were equal before) null?
je .done   ; yes, we're done.

inc di     ; increment DI
inc si     ; increment SI
jmp .loop  ; loop!

clc  ; not equal, clear the carry flag

stc  ; equal, set the carry flag

times 510-($-$$) db 0
dw 0AA55h ; some BIOSes require this signature

Last but not least, main.asm:

ORG 0x7C00

jmp 0x0000:start

db 0

xor ax, ax
mov ds, ax
mov es, ax
mov fs, ax
mov gs, ax
mov ss, ax

mov sp, 0x7C00
mov [BootDrive], dl
jmp $