Your Computer's BIOS: Key to Installing LINUX

In order to install LINUX on a Windows PC, you will need to make changes to the logic that controls the first few seconds of its operation after power is applied. Almost all PCs use motherboard logic, permanently burned into a "ROM" chip and known as the "Basic Input / Output System" or "BIOS", to manage this process.

Perhaps you've noticed prompts referring to BIOS settings. Take a look at the illustration to the left. I captured this image from one of my desktop PCs, just a few seconds after applying power, and I had to be quick about it, because it is only displayed for about 4 seconds. (This is typical of what you may see, but because there are so many different PC vendors, your own experience will probably be similar, but not exactly the same.)

Do you see the prompt that says "BIOS Settings: <F2>"?

This means that if I press my keyboard's "F2" function key during the brief period while this message is displayed, the normal bootstrap process will be interrupted while a series of basic configuration menus is displayed. Using those menus, I can make fundamental changes to the way the computer commences each work session. For example, I can force it to check to see if connected CD drives (or USB flash memory) contain a bootable operating system (such as LINUX), and to use it instead of Windows if it is present.

Those menus aren't fancy. They aren't based on Microsoft Windows, or LINUX, or any other high-level operating system. They don't respond to mouse clicks. I can't re-size them, or drag them around on a virtual "desktop". Instead, they are based on little text blocks that overlay one another in response to my use of keyboard arrow, "Enter" and "Escape" buttons (and a few others). As each little menu is displayed, corresponding prompts are also displayed to alert me of available keystroke commands that I can use to activate, de-activate, save, or abandon any options or changes I make. When I am done, I exit from this BIOS management logic (and resume the bootstrap process) by pressing either of two buttons:

1 of 2: ESCAPE will abandon all of my changes, leaving everything exacly as it was, or

2 of 2: <F10> will preserve all of my changes for use now, and in the future.

Take a look at the video clips below to see how I use these BIOS tools to configure my PC for compatibility with the flexible bootstrap options that I like.