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Old 06-27-2006, 03:07 PM   #1
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What is recommended BIOS setup for getting linux run smoothly?

There are lots of documents for linux installation but in the documents the first part is missing: Optimal BIOS and hardware setup before starting the installation process?

At the moment I am having trouble with Fedora Core5 on very basic simple desktop with Celeron 2.16G CPU and 845 motherboard. Playing with the BIOS settings helps ( sometimes ) but I am not sure which settings are optimal for linux. One problem with FC5 on that desktop is udev timing out, the other is FC hanging after installing video capture card ( bt878 ).

For example BIOS settings:
PnP aware OS be disabled /enabled?
Power management off / enabled?
Should unused ports ( serial, parallel ) be enabled or disabled?
Should the peripherals be connected during installation or not?
Should I put CD in other CD drives, or floppy in floppy drive ( when booting from other drives )?

All these small things seem to affect the installation / first boot processes and it would be nice to know which is the optimal setup in general.
Old 06-27-2006, 04:30 PM   #2
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Like most things in linux, it depends. I would say that most of the settings don't matter much because there are very good hardware recognition tools in at install/boot time. Some of your problems may be resolved with options you feed the installer at the boot prompt.

But for basic Bios settings, I would say

PnP aware OS = enabled

Power management = enabled (the kernel will take over power management anyway)

Unused ports = enabled (they too will be controled by the kernel, unless you're worried about someone somehow using a serial port to break into you machine at boot time)

Peripherals = doesn't matter too much, they are usually autodetected when you plug them in (like USB devices) or you have to set them up manually anyway (like printers). The only thing I would make sure was plugged in was any usb keyboard or mouse you want to have autoconfigured at installation time.

My boot order is always CD, USB, Floppy, Hard Drive. If there's a CD in the drive, it will boot from it, otherwise it'll try USB, then floppy, etc...

Hope that helps some. Like I said, I believe most of the hardware stuff gets taken over by the linux kernel at boot time anyway, so the BIOS settings don't make much difference. If you want to see if your hardware is supported, try downloading a live CD (like Knoppix) and see if it runs. You can even use it to figure out what modules you need to load...
Old 06-27-2006, 04:41 PM   #3
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>PnP aware OS be disabled /enabled?
Linux is PnP aware, let it sort things out without BIOS interfering, best set it to enabled.

>Power management off / enabled?
For me (Award BIOS '84-'99) it's 'User Define' and almost everything else listed is disabled, except for Primary IDE 0 and 1 as well as Secondary IDE 0 and 1, of course. I'd leave it off entirely in your case.

>Should unused ports ( serial, parallel ) be enabled or disabled?
They're unused as you said, either leave at default or disable.

>Should the peripherals be connected during installation or not?
Try Knoppix to see if they're detected or misbehaving. Unless you're troubleshooting really old/obscure hardware, you should leave everything connected.

>Should I put CD in other CD drives, or floppy in floppy drive?
Huh? Just use the CD you're installing from, leave the other drives empty.

Edit: While we're at it, have a look at RTC Resume. It's a function to let the computer start itself every day at 8.00 a.m. for example. You can then set a cron job to run xmms with some music you like. Beats the alarm bell

Last edited by marsm; 06-27-2006 at 04:52 PM.
Old 06-28-2006, 12:15 AM   #4
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Thanks, that is good to hear, especially if I think my other PC which will be dual boot linux winxp. I can use the same BIOS settings for both.

For my fedora core5 problems I got advice to use noacpi and in general switch off other fancy features in BIOS and in linux. This hopefully is temporary problem in the new kernels. Now my booting process takes 5 to 10minutes so it is quite slow to try different settings and quite often it hangs.

In my experience FC5 + 2.6 kernel is more sensitive for the hardware and BIOS settings than earlier releases. Positive thing is that when the FC5 finally boots it is more stable than many earlier redhat and other distros I have used.

My set up is Fedora core5, kernel: 2.6.17-1.2139_FC5, on PC with normal 845GV motherboard.


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