I want a program that outputs "hello world" on console on my x86_64 based Linux computer. Yes, a complete program, not something silly that needs an interpreter or a compiler to work.

You may:

  • use all glibc functionality
  • submit a static executable
  • submit a dynamic executable with dependencies if you outline them
  • compile an ELF file
  • dig into the ELF format and remove all unneeded stuff
  • be creative and work around the ELF format

Describe here how you create and execute the program.

The shortest program wins.

  • 10
    \$\begingroup\$ Similar: muppetlabs.com/~breadbox/software/tiny/teensy.html \$\endgroup\$ – Peter Taylor Jan 2 '14 at 7:00
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @PeterTaylor The page I immediately thought of when reading this. Thanks for digging it up before me. \$\endgroup\$ – J B Jan 2 '14 at 12:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ @breadbox is a high-rep user on our site. I'm sure they'll nail this one. ;-) \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Jester-Young Jan 2 '14 at 12:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ Too bad you specified the platform :) \$\endgroup\$ – marinus Jan 2 '14 at 15:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @marinus why is this a bad thing? \$\endgroup\$ – John Dvorak Jan 2 '14 at 16:13

MS-DOS .COM - 21 bytes

From the comments:

marinus may use any platform he likes to go below the 45 bytes from muppetlabs.com/~breadbox/software/tiny/teensy.html – Thorsten Staerk

So now I had to. (So don't accept this answer because it's cheating.)

He made a mistake, because that allows me to do:

              org     0x100
              mov     ah,9
              mov     dx,hello
              int     0x21
              int     0x20
hello:        db      "hello world$"

Compile with:

nasm -f bin -o hello.com hello.asm

And then DOSBOX or something will run the resulting .com, which is 21 bytes in size.

No hacks are even needed because .com files have no structure.

  • \$\begingroup\$ no mistake... I had it in my mind somewhere... I used to write programs with debug.exe... nopret.com, 2 bytes \$\endgroup\$ – Thorsten Staerk Jan 5 '14 at 15:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ that was why 70,000 bytes are not possible as .com program... and .com is not part of any URL ;) \$\endgroup\$ – Thorsten Staerk Jan 5 '14 at 15:41
  • \$\begingroup\$ the rules don't say that it has to terminate. You can remove the int 0x20. \$\endgroup\$ – peter ferrie Nov 27 '17 at 20:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ at the very least, the int 0x20 can be a ret. \$\endgroup\$ – peter ferrie Nov 27 '17 at 21:35

This is what you had in mind? Or you want any more hacky?


Assembler (NASM) { source: 155 bytes, compiled: 384 bytes }

Source code: helloworld.nasm

global _start
 mov eax, 4
 mov ebx, 1
 mov ecx, h
 mov edx, 12
 int 0x80
 mov eax, 1
 mov ebx, 0
 int 0x80
h: db 'hello world', 10, 0


$ nasm helloworld.nasm -f elf64 -o helloworld.o
$ ld helloworld.o -s -o helloworld


$ ./helloworld 
hello world


$ ls -al helloworld.nasm helloworld
-rw-rw-r-- 1 user user 155 Jan  5 11:08 helloworld.nasm
-rwxrwxr-x 1 user user 384 Jan  5 11:09 helloworld


$ uname -io
x86_64 GNU/Linux
$ nasm -v
NASM version 2.09.10 compiled on Oct 17 2011
  • \$\begingroup\$ use nasm as assembler and get it much smaller \$\endgroup\$ – Thorsten Staerk Jan 4 '14 at 17:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ ok, edited as EDITED(2) \$\endgroup\$ – ggrandes Jan 5 '14 at 10:56

Assembly - compiled: 76 bytes

This is a 32-bit executable, but taking advantage of backwards compatibility it will run on x86_64 systems too. At least it did on mine. It's based on breadbox's "tiny.asm" and it's hackier still so I wouldn't be that surprised if some Linuxes didn't want to touch it.

I tried it on Debian 7 in a VM, and it worked.

              org     0x00200000
              db      0x7F, "ELF"
hello:        db      "hello world", 10
              dw      2                               
              dw      3              
              ; nasm insisted on aligning them properly so let's do it this way                 
exit:         dd      0x80cd4066 ; inc eax - int 0x80 
              dd      start                          
              dd      phdr - $$                       
phdr:         dd      1                               
              dd      0                               
              dd      $$                              
              dw      1                               
              dw      0                               
              dd      filesize                        
              dd      filesize                        
start:        mov     ecx, hello ; B9 0400 0200 -> flag 1 set -> executable
              mov     edx, 12
              inc     eax
              shl     eax,2
              int     0x80
              xor     eax, eax
              jmp     exit
filesize      equ     $ - $$

It actually works:

~$ nasm -f bin -o hello hello.asm;chmod +x hello
~$ ./hello
hello world
~$ wc -c hello
76 hello

It even neatly outputs a newline as I had a byte to spare in the ELF header.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Just tried it, works for me on an i7 running 64-bit Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. \$\endgroup\$ – LegionMammal978 May 14 '16 at 11:23

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