Peter Norton’s Assembly Language Book Debug in Windows 8

So I am learning Assembly Language and “Peter Norton’s Assembly Language Book for the IBM PC”  was recommend to me. I got it on amazon for about $5 shipped. The first section of the book is on “Machine Language” were it has you use a program called DEBUG.COM to poke around in the registers and do hex math.

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I did some research on where I could get a hold of this program and it seems it is included with DOS and is also included in 32 bit versions of Windows as debug.exe.

Well I the last two versions of Windows I have run (Windows 7 and Windows 8) were both 64 bit and I cannot find debug.exe in Windows 8.

You will need two free software packages. First you will need FreeDOS as it comes with a clone of the DEBUG.COM program the book is talking about. This will not run in Windows 8, I tried. So you need to either install and run FreeDOS in a Virtual Machine or the easier way is to get DOSBox. This is what I did and I got it all working in about 5 minutes.

Download DOSBox

Go to dosbox.com, click on “Downloads” and click “Download Now”.

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Download FreeDOS

Go to www.freedos.org, click on “Download FreeDOS”, then on the green “fd11src.iso” button or a newer version if it is available.

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DOSBox “Drive” Folder

Create folder for DOSBox to mount as its C drive. In this example I will use “C:\DosBoxDrive”

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Get DEBUG.COM

Mount FreeDOS ISO by double-clicking on it

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Navigate into FREEDOS/PACKAGES/BASE and find DEBUGX.ZIP.

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Open DEBUGX.ZIP by double-clicking on it.

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Navigate into “bin” and you will see the Holy Grail DEBUG.COM!

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Copy DEBUG.COM to C:\DosBoxDrive

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Install DOSBox

Launch the DOSBox installer. Click “Next” on all screens until it finishes, unless you really want to change something. When done click “Close”.

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Launch DOSBox and Use Debug

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Type “mount c c:\dosboxdrive” and press Enter. This will make the folder you created earlier as DOSBox’s C drive.

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Switch to this drive by typing “c:” and pressing Enter.

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Take a look at the contents of this drive by typing “dir” and pressing Enter. You will see DEBUG.COM in there. Slick huh?

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Now launch the Debug program by typing “debug” or “debug.com” and pressing Enter. You know it is ready when you have the dash “-” right before your blinking cursor. From here just follow the instructions in the book.

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Lets try an early example from the book, doing Hexarithmetic on 2 and 3. At the dash prompt type “H 2 3” and press Enter. It is case-insensitive so “h 2 3” will work too.

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Now you should be able to do all the examples from the first section of the book. Exit Debug by typing Q and pressing Enter. You can just close DOSBox as any time. To start back up again just launch DOSBox, mount the C drive again, switch to it and enjoy!