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mipsdis is a MIPS bytecode disassembler that can run on the command line and in the browser.

It uses source code generation to build C, ruby and javascript versions of the core disassembler routines.



The Javascript version of mipsdis runs in the browser.

You can try it out here:

The C version of mipsdis runs from the command-line. Here is an example of its usage:

$ ./bin/mipsdis test/hello.txt

80001000:	3c048000	lui $4,0x8000
80001004:	34844000	ori $4,$4,0x4000
80001008:	3c05b400	lui $5,0xb400
8000100c:	34a503f8	ori $5,$5,0x3f8
80001010:	80860000	lb $6,0($4)
80001014:	10c00005	beq $6,$0,0x8000102c
80001018:	00000000	sll $0,$0,0x0
8000101c:	a0a60000	sb $6,0($5)
80001020:	24840001	addiu $4,$4,1
80001024:	08000404	j 0x80001010
80001028:	00000000	sll $0,$0,0x0
8000102c:	3c05bfbf	lui $5,0xbfbf
80001030:	34a50004	ori $5,$5,0x4
80001034:	3c060000	lui $6,0x0
80001038:	34c6002a	ori $6,$6,0x2a
8000103c:	a0a60000	sb $6,0($5)

If you wish to disassemble an existing MIPS binary, you will need to adapt it into the format that mipsdis understands. For a raw binary---that is, a bare binary file just containing opcodes and no metadata, as you might get from extracting part of an executable or from a memory dump---you can use mipsdis as a filter.

$ xxd -o 0x80001000 -c 4 -g 4 test/hello.bin | awk '{print $1,$2}' | ./bin/mipsdis -

80001000:	3c048000	lui $4,0x8000
80001004:	2484203c	addiu $4,$4,8252
80001008:	3c05b400	lui $5,0xb400
8000100c:	34a503f8	ori $5,$5,0x3f8

The pipeline shown above hexdumps the raw binary file test/hello.bin, extracts the address and opcode column, and then disassembles the results with mipsdis (using the '-' option to read the input from stdin). Note that the starting address 0x80001000 needs to be specified because the raw binary file does not contain this information. Without it, branch offsets and jump targets would not be decoded correctly.

For convenience, scripts/ can be used to do the same thing.

$ ./scripts/ test/hello.bin 0x80001000 | ./bin/mipsdis -

80001000:	3c048000	lui $4,0x8000

To disassemble a binary in a specific format, such as ELF, you will need to use the appropriate tool, such as objdump or gdb, to extract the opcodes.

$ file test/hello

test/hello: ELF 32-bit MSB executable, MIPS, MIPS32 version 1 (SYSV), statically linked, not stripped

$ mips-baremetal-elf-objdump -d test/hello | grep '^[0-9a-f]\{8\}:' |awk '{print $1,$2}' | ./bin/mipsdis -

80001000:	3c048000	lui $4,0x8000
80001004:	2484203c	addiu $4,$4,8252
80001008:	3c05b400	lui $5,0xb400
8000100c:	34a503f8	ori $5,$5,0x3f8

The Ruby and Javascript versions of mipsdis function identically to the C version.


$ ./bin/mipsdis.rb test/hello.txt

80001000:	3c048000	lui $4,0x8000


$ nodejs ./bin/mipsdis.js test/hello.txt

80001000:	3c048000	lui $4,0x8000


To get the source and run it:

git clone && cd mipsdis
make test

The configure script will check for these dependencies:

  • make
  • ruby
  • nodejs (optional)

nodejs is an optional dependency that is used only to test the auto-generated Javascript code. If it is not found, then that test is skipped. I did not really feel like adding it as a hard dependency.

I have tested on OSX 10.11.6 and Ubuntu 16.04. Other unix variants are likely to work with minimal or no changes.

The code is tested by running test/input.txt through each disassembler and ensuring that test/expected.txt is the result.

The test input was generated by a fuzzer script that uses tables/opcode_bits.txt and tables/dispatch_tables.txt to generate test cases.

The expected output was generated by running the test input through objdump and filtering the output slightly to match the style used by mipsdis.


I wrote mipsgen to do the heavy lifting of generating the bulk of the code for each version of the disassembler. It currently supports the generation of C, Javascript and Ruby source code.

The metadata used by mipsgen was created by a process of reading the architecture manuals and then compiling the information on each mnemonic into a form that makes sense for both humans and machines.

The resultant metadata is contained in these files:

mipsgen parses this data, and then hands it off to specific code generation routines that generate the appropriate switch statements and formatting code for each language.

This keeps the amount of language-specific code for each disassembler down to around 300 lines. The amount of auto-generated code is around 1300 lines for each version.

mipsgen is invoked by the build system of mipsdis as part of the process of building the different versions of the disassembler.

It can be invoked directly like this:

$ ./scripts/mipsgen.rb js

function decode_j(pc, op)
    return sprintf("j 0x%x", gettarget(pc,op));

Extending mipsdis

The process for adding another language like python to the code generator is as follows:

  • Copy codegen/rbgen.rb to codegen/pygen.rb
  • Adjust the method names accordingly
  • Modify the print statements in py_emit_decoder and py_gen_switch to emit the appropriate python code.
  • Port disasm/rb/mipsdis.rb to disasm/py/

The process for adding new opcodes is shown below:


Apart from this file, there are a few other bits and pieces of documentation that are worth looking at.

There is an outline of the code here that contains a summary of each module. The modules are listed in topological order.

Each file in the project has (or should have) a blurb at the top that contains a verbose description of what it is and why it is present. If necessary, the blurb contains cross references to other related files.

There is some more documentation on the code generation, as well as a static copy of the auto-generated code, inside the docs/ directory.

See docs/ for the C version.
See docs/ for the Javascript version.
See docs/ for the Ruby version.


This information is very handy w.r.t MIPS coding:

  1. MIPS Registers
  2. MIPS Instruction Formats
  3. MIPS Instruction Reference (basic subset)
  4. MIPS32 Architecture for Programmers Vol 2
  5. MIPS32 4K User's manual


MIPS disassembler that runs on the command line and in the browser.







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