Checkman/Troubleshooting BIOS

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BIOS is one of the first experiences builders have with the computer software in Build, and sometimes its the most daunting. But this doesn't have to be the case! Below are some hints, tips, and tricks to becoming friends with your BIOS:

Finding BIOS When you power on a system, the first thing that happens is the system POSTs (Power-On Self Test). In POSTing, the graphics and text should flash onto the monitor and indicate what key(s) are required in order to access the BIOS (Basic Input Output System). While all computers use the keyboard to access and navigate BIOS, each computers may have different keys to get you into BIOS. Fortunately, most systems use the following keys:

Del, F1, F2, F8, F10.

Unfortunately, you only have a few seconds to press the key in order to enter BIOS. The POSTing screen will only be up for a few seconds (then the system will load Ubuntu), so don't feel bad about rebooting the system (by pressing "Ctrl+Alt+Del" or holding the power button down for several seconds) a few times in order to access BIOS. If the computer doesn't seem to respond to keystrokes, ensure that the keyboard plug is plugged into the correct port, and try switching PS2/USB keyboards if the system supports both. Otherwise, reach out to a build instructor or perform an Internet search for further troubleshooting.

Note: Some systems will not recognize a USB keyboard in BIOS, so please use a PS2 keyboard if available

"There's this Password Protected thing!?" Occasionally, you'll find that BIOS is protected with a Password. If this happens to be the case, simply power down the system (by pressing "Ctrl+Alt+Del" or holding the power button down for several seconds), remove the power chord from the system, locate the button battery and remove it. Look on the motherboard for a two pin jumper nearby titled "Clear CMOS" or "Clear Password" on the motherboard, and place a jumper onto the pins. If you can't locate these pins, just remove the battery. Get some coffee or go to the bathroom, (ie wait for two or so minutes with the battery out and the jumper on its pins). Put the button battery back in the system, plug in the power chord, and power on the system. You should have access to BIOS now. If this DOESN'T work, try to "power cycle" the computer with the battery gone and jumper set, and power down the system (if it powered on) before putting the battery back in the computer.
Navigating BIOS While each system may have different key(s) to access BIOS, BIOS is only accessed through your keyboard (no mouse necessary). There are several different ways that BIOS is organized and navigated. Below are examples of most BIOS environments that Free Geek handles:
Tab screen format

When you see the BIOS screen you may see horizontal tabs near the top that should resemble the following options:

Main | Advanced | Power | Boot | You can navigate these tabs by simply using the ← and → on your keyboard.
Collapsing/Expanding Menu format

Generally, on the Left hand side of the screen, you will see a + sign beside the list of menu items.  If you highlight the item by using your ↓
↑ keys and press "Enter", you will see the menu item as a heading for an expanded list of sub-menu items.  The + sign will become a - sign, and
the menu will look something like this: 

- System
    System Info
    Processor Info
    Memory Info
    Boot Sequence

- Onboard Devices
    USB Controller
    Front USB Ports
General Navigation

Most BIOS environments have common keys in order to navigate the program.  These include the following:
  ← and → to move from one menu screen (or section) to another
  ↓ and ↑ to select a different field within a menu of options
  + / - in order to change a value in the field of a menu item 
  "Tab" / "Enter" key to select a field
  "F10" key to save and exit
  "ESC" key to exit