Should I learn computer architecture (i.e. CPU, hardware, memory, etc.) first before I dive into low-level software (i.e. kernels, drivers, init systems, etc.), viceversa, only low-level software, or learn both concurrently? Why? Is there a better alternative?

@avalos They evolved concurrently, so that's not a bad way of learning them.

@avalos There are a few cross-dependencies (e.g., drivers depend on memory-mapped registers; virtual memory implementations were driven by operating system requirements) but IMO you’ll hit fewer forward references if you start with architecture. I’ve taught both at undergraduate level.

@avalos I took the last path, I think it’s the easiest.

Though for low-level programming, you only need to understand the hardware on a surface level, ie. you need not be able to design one yourself.

@avalos IMO, it doesn't really matter, just do whatever is most productive for you.

@avalos Low level software has to be written to target the specifics of the hardware you're using. So you kinda have to learn both together as you go. Every time I write bare metal code, I have documentation on the hardware in hand while I do it. So really it works best to co-learn it.

@avalos Incidentally, if you're looking for a great way to get your feet wet in bare metal coding, have you considered writing your own Nintendo game from scratch? It's a great way to learn about hardware and about writing assembly language.

@roadriverrail I have a spare Nintendo DS Lite lying around. Sounds like a great idea to experiment with it! Is there anything special about Nintendo hardware that will help me get started more easily?

Also, I had a class at school past semester where we learned 8086/8088 assembly, and I also learned some basic ARMv7 assembly quickly; but none of that was on bare metal. I wrote 8086 on top of the DOS API, and ARMv7 on top of Linux and C libraries.

Here's the ARMv7 code I wrote:

@avalos I'm sure the DS hacking community can help, but I know little of it. The original NES on an emulator is a great target though because the hardware is well known and quite well documented. I even have a set of instructional labs available to help people learn the platform. And the 6502 is an easy but iconic processor used in multiple 80s PCs and still sees use today.

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