Is my computer possessed? My BIOS has a mind of it's own!
April 22, 2006 8:47 PM   Subscribe

I've got a tower (AMD 3000+ with a gigabyte motherboard, 3/4ths of a gig of ram, etc.) that I'm trying to set up for a media center. The thing is, the first screen (where it's checking the ram) the keyboard works fine. I can go and edit my bios settings, save and exit, etc. However, on the next screen (where I have the option of booting from CD and such) keyboard input ceases to be.

What's going on? I go into the bios, tell it (just as an example) to not boot from the drive that's in there, at all. Ever. And then I reboot it, double check it in the bios settings again, reboot, and IT BOOTS FROM THE HARD DRIVE!!! I can't stop it (remember, no keyboard input at this point) and when I get to windows, I can't do anything either (keyboard...). How is this happining? I don't think my bios battery is wearing out - I still have good accurate time. What in gods name could be causing this?

Thanks for the help!
posted by TrueVox to Computers & Internet (10 answers total)
USB keyboard? If so, play with the "legacy keyboard support" or "legacy usb devices" or whatever settings in the BIOS. Or, preferrably, try a ps/2 keyboard.
posted by autojack at 9:41 PM on April 22, 2006

Another thing to try is moving the keyboard to a different USB port. The last generation of Dells was among the many that had this problem, and it was the exact same symptoms you described.

IIRC, on the Dell units, the keyboard should be in the USB port directly below the Ethernet connection. It was a BIOS issue, so it's possible that it is similar on other boards. A BIOS update might also be in order once you get the system booted.
posted by WinnipegDragon at 9:54 PM on April 22, 2006

Very unlikely, but with battery backed NV RAM, the battery or a connection to it may be faulty - just an idea.
posted by Dub at 9:59 PM on April 22, 2006

I've used USB and PS/2 both, and no such luck after the first screen.

And if the battery was faulty (or the connection), wouldn't my time be off?
posted by TrueVox at 10:05 PM on April 22, 2006

Stupid question, but, is the CD definetely a bootable CD? Or once you get into whatever OS you're in, is the kb not working there either?
posted by xospecialk at 10:38 PM on April 22, 2006

Without question it is. I've tried numerous CDs includeing an Ubuntu Live CD from ShipIt. I've even gone so far as to test it in VMWare. It is NOT a media issue.

Good guess, though. Narrowing stuff down is good.

posted by TrueVox at 11:09 PM on April 22, 2006

I like the fact that one of your tags is "Ghostintheshell"! It certainly sounds like that, doesn't it!

Seriously though, this is a really strange problem. I can see this happening with a USB keyboard, but not a PS/2!

It's a long shot, but have you tried plugging in a USB keyboard after the PC boots up? (The theory here is that the I/O controller on the PC is borked and doesn't report connected devices properly, but if you connect something post-boot, it might recognise it then).

I'd also have a good poke around the BIOS and see if there is something in there for KB, since it works in the BIOS and not further along (implying that the BIOS might be disabling the KB).

Good luck with your possessed AMD machine! :)
posted by ranglin at 11:27 PM on April 22, 2006

Thank you for the complement on my "creative" tagging.

I have re-plugged it in, but I have never started it unplugged, and then plugged it in (does that make sense?), so I'll give that a whirl.

As for looking around the BIOS, there's nothing I can find. Like I said before, even though the BIOS says it's doing some things, when it gets to a point, it just ignores what I've done with the BIOS recently.

Must sleep... Check in morning... .Thanks for the help, everyone!
posted by TrueVox at 11:45 PM on April 22, 2006

This sounds like your typical USB keyboard problem. I'm blown away that it happens with a PS2 keyboard too. The BIOS option for USB keyboards usually says something like "USB Keyboard Support via..." and the options are "OS" or "BIOS", if you have this choice, try BIOS.
posted by knave at 12:01 AM on April 23, 2006

On the BIOS thing, I've known some PC's to boot from the HD even if you tell them not to. The basic idea is that they cycle through all the options for booting and then, when they can't boot anything, they figure they'll try the listed hard disk anyway. I find this really frustrating, especially in situations like yours where I can't get it to boot from the CD and it keeps on booting into Windows (even when I tell it not to).

From your comments, I'm wondering if you've ever got it to boot into anything other than windows? If it always boots to the HD and you can't "press any key to boot the CD", then have you ever gotten one of the Live CD's to work?

If not, you might want to crack open the case, UNPLUG the bloody hard drive and then try booting from the CD. At least if you can try another OS you can totally eliminate the possibility that it is windows that is mucking you up.

Also, if you get really stuck, you might want to try posting your question on Experts Exchange (although you do have to pay a fee to post there). A lot more (lonely) computer guys hang out there solving problems just like this one!
posted by ranglin at 12:02 AM on April 23, 2006

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