KarbosGuide.com. Module 2a.3

Using the system software of the motherboard

The contents:

  • What use of Setup program?
  • Modifying the boot sequence
  • Images from the setup program
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  • What can I use the Setup program for?

    The Setup program can do many things for you. However, be careful. You should not change any values within the menus, unless you know what you are doing. Otherwise your PC may not function properly.

    You have to enter Setup, if you install a different type or additional disk drive in your PC. Certain BIOSs will also need adjustment of its settings, if a CDROM drive is installed on one of the EIDE channels.

    The Standard values

    The standard values in the CMOS Setup are used to configure:

  • The date and time.
  • The keyboard.
  • The display.
  • The diskette drive.
  • EIDE units number 1-4 (typically hard disks and CD-ROM-drive).

    The values for date and time are stored in the CMOS RAM. You can always change them, from Setup or from DOS, Windows or any other OS.

    The keyboard - obviously it has to be there. But it is possible to configure the PC to work without a keyboard. Otherwise the PC will error if the keyboard is missing.

    The display is always VGA. From older times the Setup gives you options as EGA, CGA and MDA. You won't need them!

    Diskette drive has to be selected. You can choose to have A: or B: or both. Each drive can be of five types or more. You probably have the 1.44 MB floppy drive. You choose among the options using [PgUp] and [PgDn]. Modern super floppies like Zip and LS120 are not to be installed as diskette drives, they are EIDE units.

    The hard disk is the most important unit to install in this part of the Setup. With the modern motherboards and the EIDE drives you may experience an automatic configuration during the Auto detect . In other situations you have to run the auto detect yourself. With older drives, you have to enter all the CHS-values for the drive (number of cylinders, heads and sectors.

    The BIOS Feature Setup

    The Feature Setup is the next layer in the CMOS setup. Here you can choose among options like:

  • Quick execution of POST (a good thing).
  • Choice of boot device EIDE/SCSI. If you have both types of hard drives, which one is to be booted?
  • The boot sequence.
  • ....

    Modifying the boot sequence

    You can change the boot sequence from A:, C: to C:, A:. That means, that the PC will not try to boot from any diskette in the A drive. This will protect you from certain virus attacks from the boot sector. Also, the boot process will not be blocked by any diskette in the A drive. If you need to boot from A-drive (for example, if you want to install Windows 98), you have to enter Setup again, and change the boot sequence to A:, C:. That is no problem.

    Power Management

    You also use the Setup program to regulate the power management , which is the power saving features in the motherboard. For example, you can make the CPU shut down after one minute of no activity. There are plenty of settings available in this area. The power management functions found on the PCs motherboard will cooperate with the operating system. Especially Windows 98 is very good at using the power management.

    Password Protection

    You can protect the Setup program with a password. This is used widely in schools, where the teachers do not want the little nerds to make changes in the setup. Please remember the password (write it down in the motherboard manual). If you forget it you have to remove the battery from the motherboard. Then all user input to the CMOS is erased - including the password.

    Images from the Setup program

    Here is a scanned image from a Setup program. It belongs a very fine board from ASUS. Here you see the "BIOS Feature Setup," where you can select start-up choices:

    Here we are in the special "Chip set Feature Setup." These choices relate to the chip sets and, most likely, need no changes:

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    Learn more

    Module 2b. About the boot process and system bus

    Read more about I/O buses in module 2c

    Read more about the motherboard chip set in module 2d

    Read more about RAM in module 2e

    Read about EIDE in module 5b

    I also recommend two books for further studies. Gunnar Forst: "PC Principals", from MIT is excellent. Also "The Winn L. Rosch Hardware Bible" from Brady covers the same subjects. Also "PC Intern" from Abacus is fine.

    Links to BIOS information:

    BIOS Guide


    [Main page]
    [Karbo's Dictionary]
    [The Windows 98 pages]

    Copyright (c) 1996-2005 by Michael B. Karbo. www.karbosguide.com.