What May have Happened in the Boot Process?

Linux for blind general discussion blinux-list at redhat.com
Mon May 8 12:17:53 UTC 2017

	Does anybody know of a program that runs in debian that
can backup the BIOS configuration so one can basically yank it
back to what it should be if the settings get corrupted?

	This is one of my biggest pet peaves since on 95% of most
PC's, the setup process is inaccessible and Dells seem to be
really good at self-mutations.

	I've got a system whose BIOS date is from around 2004. On
Saturday, I plugged a second hard drive in to the same controller
bus as the boot drive in order to make an image of that drive on
to a file on the boot drive and all appeared to go well at the
time. I didn't do anything stupid like accidentally switch the
input and output file names and it all just worked.

	After powering off, removing the second drive and
rebooting, I then discovered that there was a wait of close to a
minute and then that horrible quick double-beep which says there
will be no boot yet.

	I accidentally discovered that if I hit F1, it does boot
and works fine.

	I got out the talking archlinux rescue disk which is one
of the best rescue disks I have ever seen and ran fdisk on the
boot drive. It is okay and as near as I can tell, some BIOS
setting has changed so it it time to hookup the monitor and have
my wife help me determine why F1 is now needed to finish booting.

	I also have some oder Dells that like to get themselves
in to a mode where the floppy is the first boot drive and the
hard disk is always next and then the CDROM is last. That's a
royal pain if you want to try out a live CD and find out why it
doesn't work. A yankback program would be most useful for that
since whatever bug causes this mutation just randomly appears.
You set the boot order and six months later, it has reverted back
to useless mode.

	The two tools I wish I had the most for older P.C's are
that yankback or forceback program for the BIOS and a floppy that
had enough drivers on it to boot off of usb drives. There are
reportedly some images out there that will do that. One would
probably get a slow boot since many built-in usb ports run at 13
megabits but that beats no boot at all.

	Of course the absolute gold standard would be a way in to
the setup screen. I actually have a board that I bought many
years ago that can intercept the video displays on some systems
and I got it to work on a few, but it doesn't work on
many more. BIOS firmware is specific to certain types of boards
so one would need to have a forceback program that was aimed at a
specific group of BIOS programs but it could be done.

Any ideas are appreciated.


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