The BIOS is the Basic Input/Output System built into the motherboard of a computer. It is the very first code to run when a computer is powered on.

The BIOS has a User Interface (UI), which allows a person to configure specific hardware, set the system clock, enable/disable system components/features, select which devices are can be used as a boot device and to set configure various security settings.

What a BIOS is capable of and how a BIOS is configured plays a critical roll in how a computer performs.

When using Kubuntu, accessing the BIOS Information and Features, without exiting the OS can come in handy. Luckily, there are shell commands which can provide us with this info.

I’m going to start with commands to access software packages which come with Kubuntu 10.10

biosdecode – BIOS Information Decoder – parses the BIOS memory and prints information about all structures (or entry points) it knows of.

sudo biosdecode

dmidecode – DMI table decoder – is a tool for dumping a computer’s DMI (some say SMBIOS) table contents in a human-readable format.

sudo dmidecode --type bios

lshw – list hardware – is a small tool to extract detailed information on the hardware configuration of the machine.

sudo lshw

The remaining commands require software packages to be installed, before they can be used with Kubuntu 10.10

hwinfo – probe for hardware – is used to probe for the hardware present in the system.

sudo apt-get install hwinfo
sudo hwinfo --bios | less

gksu – GTK+ frontend for su and sudo – run graphical commands that need root without the need to run an X terminal emulator and using su directly.

sudo apt-get install gksu
gksudo lshw-gtk

I couldn’t get the gksudo lshw-gtk command to work on my machine. The command is suggested by reliable sources all over the web.

hardinfo – shows hardware information in a GTK+ window – parses some files in /proc and displays their information in a user-friendly (GUI) window.

sudo apt-get install hardinfo mesa-utils
sudo hardinfo