I was recently looking at converting an old application from VB6 to Java that used MD5 in its output files as hashes for validation.

The first thing I did was to make a java class that read in the file and checked the hashes, I tried it on a few files and it worked fine, then I found a file that it failed on.

Now, this app wrote all the files using the exact same function, so it seemed odd that 1 of them wouldn’t parse and the rest would.

When I looked at the file closer, I found that this one contained some symbols in the output that the others didn’t - I eventually figured out that the symbol that was causing the problem was the pound sign (£).

Without going into too much detail, this presented a major problem, the string in question was used as part of the password validation for the app (the output files are encrypted using the password as a key), and the java code was getting different results than the old VB6 code, and was unable to decode the file as a result.

So, this sparked my curiosity a bit, the VB6 code I was using wasn’t a built in, it was code I’d gotten elsewhere and used, so I assumed it was faulty code (not that this helped me much, as I needed to get the exact same output, but ignoring that).

I edited the initial form of my application to return the MD5 String for £ on its own, and got: d527ca074d412d9d0ffc844872c4603c

I did the same for my java code and got: 6465dad1d31752be3f3283e8f70feef7

So now all I needed to do was to see which was right, so I made a quick PHP script, and did the same and got: d99731d14c7750048538404febb0e357 … Yet another different hash!?

Ok, I thought, md5sum will help me figure out which one is right. one echo '£' | md5sum - and I had 67160ce935d7cb5339047b12ad4611cb. Yes, that is correct, a 4th different hash.

So here I was with 4 different hashes and no idea which one was correct.

So after a bit of googling, I discovered that the MD5 RFC (1321) had the source code for a test application in it.

So I extracted the code from the Appendix of and tried to compile it with gcc md5.c mddriver.c -o mddriver only to discover that it failed to compile with lots of errors, fortunately this was an easy fix, near the top of mddriver.c, change #define MD MD5 to #define MD 5 and then it compiles without problem.

So, I ran ./mddriver -s£ and got the output MD5 ("£") = d99731d14c7750048538404febb0e357 which agreed with what the PHP md5() function gave.

(Its worth noting that echo '£' | ./mddriver agreed with md5sum, which made me remember that echo appends a \n, which was why I got a different output, running echo -n '£' | md5sum gives the correct result, and would have saved me googling and finding the test suite!)

I tested a few other things and got the following results:

        mddriver: d99731d14c7750048538404febb0e357
             PHP: d99731d14c7750048538404febb0e357
           mySQL: d99731d14c7750048538404febb0e357
          python: d99731d14c7750048538404febb0e357
      postgreSQL: d99731d14c7750048538404febb0e357
          md5sum: d99731d14c7750048538404febb0e357

      JavaScript: d527ca074d412d9d0ffc844872c4603c
     VisualBasic: d527ca074d412d9d0ffc844872c4603c
         Eggdrop: d527ca074d412d9d0ffc844872c4603c
   Java (custom): d527ca074d412d9d0ffc844872c4603c

 Java (built in): 6465dad1d31752be3f3283e8f70feef7

There is also a list of MD5 implementations at

The differences are primarily due to character encoding in the different languages. (In the case of my app, there was also a flaw in the implementation for strings where (length % 64) is > than 55 as well)


[07:14:55] [shane@Xion:~]$ php -r 'echo md5(utf8_encode("£"))."\n";'
[07:15:01] [shane@Xion:~]$ php -r 'echo md5("£")."\n";'
Java: System.out.println((int)'£'); => "163"
PHP: echo ord('£'); => "194"
PHP: echo ord(utf8_encode('£')); => "195"

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