Main » 2012 » February » 7 » Chapter 3 : Before Installing Ubuntu | 6. Pre-Installation Hardware and Operating System Setup
Chapter 3 : Before Installing Ubuntu | 6. Pre-Installation Hardware and Operating System Setup
Pre-Installation Hardware and Operating System Setup
This section will walk you through pre-installation hardware setup, if
any, that you will need to do prior to installing Ubuntu. Generally,
this involves checking and possibly changing firmware settings for
your system. The "firmware” is the core software used by the
hardware; it is most critically invoked during the bootstrap process
(after power-up). Known hardware issues affecting the reliability of
Ubuntu on your system are also highlighted.
Invoking the BIOS Set-Up Menu
BIOS provides the basic functions needed to boot your machine to allow
your operating system to access your hardware. Your system probably
provides a BIOS setup menu, which is used to configure the BIOS.
Before installing, you must ensure that your BIOS
is set up correctly; not doing so can lead to intermittent crashes or
an inability to install Ubuntu.
The rest of this section is lifted from the
http://www.faqs.org/faqs/pc-hardware-faq/part1/, answering the question, "How do I
enter the CMOS configuration menu?”. How you access the BIOS (or
"CMOS”) configuration menu depends on who wrote your BIOS
Some Intel x86 machines don't have a CMOS configuration menu in the
BIOS. They require a software CMOS setup program. If you don't have
the Installation and/or Diagnostics diskette for your machine, you can
try using a shareware/freeware program. Try looking in
Boot Device Selection
Many BIOS setup menus allow you to select the devices that will be
used to bootstrap the system. Set this to look for a bootable
operating system on A: (the first floppy disk),
then optionally the first CD-ROM device (possibly appearing as
D: or E:), and then from
C: (the first hard disk). This setting enables
you to boot from either a floppy disk or a CD-ROM, which are the two
most common boot devices used to install Ubuntu.
If you have a newer SCSI controller and you have a CD-ROM device
attached to it, you are usually able to boot from the CD-ROM. All you
have to do is enable booting from a CD-ROM in the SCSI-BIOS of your
Another popular option is to boot from a USB storage device (also called
a USB memory stick or USB key). Some BIOSes can boot directly from a USB
storage device, but some cannot. You may need to configure your BIOS to boot
from a "Removable drive” or even from "USB-ZIP” to
get it to boot from the USB device.
Here are some details about how to set the boot order. Remember to
reset the boot order after Linux is installed, so that you restart
your machine from the hard drive.
Changing the Boot Order on IDE Computers
As your computer starts, press the keys to enter the BIOS
utility. Often, it is the Delete key. However,
consult the hardware documentation for the exact keystrokes.
Find the boot sequence in the setup utility. Its location depends on
your BIOS, but you are looking for a field that lists drives.
Common entries on IDE machines are C, A, cdrom or A, C, cdrom.
C is the hard drive, and A is the floppy drive.
Change the boot sequence setting so that the CD-ROM or the
floppy is first. Usually, the Page Up or
Page Down keys cycle
through the possible choices.
Save your changes. Instructions on the screen tell you how to
save the changes on your computer.
Changing the Boot Order on SCSI Computers
As your computer starts, press the keys to enter the SCSI setup
You can start the SCSI setup utility after the memory check and
the message about how to start the BIOS utility displays when you
start your computer.
The keystrokes you need depend on the utility. Often, it is
However, consult your hardware documentation for the
Find the utility for changing the boot order.
Set the utility so that the SCSI ID of the CD drive is first on
Save your changes. Instructions on the screen tell you how to
save the changes on your computer. Often, you must press
Miscellaneous BIOS Settings
Some BIOS systems (such as Award BIOS) allow you to automatically set
the CD speed. You should avoid that, and instead set it to, say, the
lowest speed. If you get seek failed error
messages, this may be your problem.
Extended vs. Expanded Memory
If your system provides both extended and
expanded memory, set it so that there is as much
extended and as little expanded memory as possible. Linux requires
extended memory and cannot use expanded memory.
Disable any virus-warning features your BIOS may provide. If you have
a virus-protection board or other special hardware, make sure it is
disabled or physically removed while running GNU/Linux. These aren't
compatible with GNU/Linux; moreover, due to the file system
permissions and protected memory of the Linux kernel, viruses are
almost unheard of.
Your motherboard may provide shadow RAM or BIOS
caching. You may see settings for "Video BIOS Shadow”,
"C800-CBFF Shadow”, etc. Disable
all shadow RAM. Shadow
RAM is used to accelerate access to the ROMs on your motherboard and
on some of the controller cards. Linux does not use these ROMs once it
has booted because it provides its own faster 32-bit software in place
of the 16-bit programs in the ROMs. Disabling the shadow RAM may make
some of it available for programs to use as normal memory. Leaving
the shadow RAM enabled may interfere with Linux access to hardware
If your BIOS offers something like "15–16 MB Memory
Hole”, please disable that. Linux expects to find memory there if
you have that much RAM.
We have a report of an Intel Endeavor motherboard on which there is an
option called "LFB” or "Linear Frame Buffer”.
This had two settings: "Disabled” and "1
Megabyte”. Set it to "1 Megabyte”.
When disabled, the installation floppy was not read correctly, and the
system eventually crashed. At this writing we don't understand what's
going on with this particular device — it just worked with that
setting and not without it.
Advanced Power Management
If your motherboard provides Advanced Power Management (APM),
configure it so that power management is controlled by APM. Disable
the doze, standby, suspend, nap, and sleep modes, and disable the hard
disk's power-down timer. Linux can take over control of these modes,
and can do a better job of power-management than the BIOS.
Hardware Issues to Watch Out For
USB BIOS support and keyboards.
If you have no AT-style keyboard and only a USB model, you may need
to enable legacy AT keyboard emulation in your BIOS setup. Only do this if
the installation system fails to use your keyboard in USB mode. Conversely,
for some systems (especially laptops) you may need to disable legacy USB
support if your keyboard does not respond.
Consult your main board manual and look in the BIOS for "Legacy
keyboard emulation” or "USB keyboard support” options.