Kevin Daniel Allen, kevindanielallen@gmail.com

If you inserted the Ubuntu CD into your drive and restarted your computer but it still loads Windows normally, ignoring the CD, then you need to configure your computer so when you turn it on, it starts reading the contents of the Ubuntu CD instead of reading the hard disk that contains Windows. To have your computer start from the CD, you must configure it to do so from the BIOS setup screen.

Note that this change will NOT damage your computer in any way because the BIOS setup was made for that purpose, so don't worry, you're not doing anything a user is not supposed to do; however, your attention must be tuned to the task when going into the setup screen so you don't change other settings.

Have in mind that if you're doing this in a public computer (like at school or library, etc) then you must leave things as they were when you finish, otherwise the library staff will notice someone changed the boot order. However, if you think the owner of the computer will not notice, then you can keep the changes because without the CD, the computer will start Windows normally (most parents don't read the messages that appear when a computer is booting, however, some parents are technically inclined, so act accordingly and be smarter than them.) Also, act cunningly as an undercover agent and don't let your teachers see you're tweaking with the BIOS screen or they will certainly get suspicious.

The BIOS setup screen looks different from computer to computer that I can't write a definite procedure, but you can adapt it to your computer, so pay attention, read and comprehend the settings on the screen. Most computers have either AWARD or PHOENIX BIOS setup; these are two different makers of BIOS chips and have set their setup screens layout differently; fortunately, you can change the boot order on both. However, the BIOS itself can be protected with a password, so if you are asked for a password on entering the BIOS screen, then you may need to reset the BIOS chip by removing the internal battery (or CMOS jumper) of the computer, and that's not a trivial procedure so it will not be covered in this tutorial. Hopefully, your BIOS setup is not protected by a password.

You will need to restart your computer and work out of Windows, so you may want print these instructions for future reference.

  1. Restart your computer. On the first screen that appears, look for a notice that will let you know the magic key you must press to enter the BIOS setup screen.

    For example, this AWARD BIOS screen shows to hit DEL to enter setup:

    And this Dell BIOS screen shows to enter F2 to enter setup:

  2. Press the “magic key” before the notice disappears. (You have to act quickly or press the PAUSE key on the keyboard so the screen freezes and you have all the time to look for the notice and press the “magic key”. Most of the time the “magic key” is DEL, but sometimes it can be F2 or other. If you can't find it, you can press all the F keys until one works for you. This method is called by trial and error and it's a good way to learn things and gain experience in your life. You will know when you're in the BIOS setup when your screen changes into a blue or gray one with lots of options.

    Inside the BIOS, you will not be able to use your mouse to point and click on the menus; therefore, you have to move over the options using your keyboard (arrow keys). Read the keyboard shortcuts at the bottom of the screen so you know what you can do with your keyboard.

    This screen shows the keyboard shortcuts available in one BIOS version:

  3. Look for the boot sequence options.

    This screen shows the boot sequence options on one machine:

    If your computer has AWARD BIOS, move to the Advanced BIOS Features option and press ENTER. (If you don't have AWARD BIOS, then look for an option that says something like boot order or boot devices sequence.)

  4. Change the boot order using the PAGE UP and PAGE DOWN keys on your keyboard (read the keyboard shortcuts to find out which keys are for your BIOS screen.) The idea is to set the CD-ROM as the first boot device and the HARD DISK DRIVE as the second boot device, so when your computer starts, it looks for what's inside the CD-ROM and if it doesn't find a boot disk, then it will move on the hard drive and start Windows. It doesn't matter what the third boot device is; you can leave it as it is or disabled, just make sure that you set the HDD-0 as any of the devices or your computer will not boot into Windows when the Ubuntu CD is not in the drive. The options on your screen should look like this:

    First Boot Device [CDROM]

    Second Boot Device [HDD-0]

    Third Boot Device [Disabled]

  5. Save the changes, exit the setup and restart your computer. Once you have changed the boot order, look for the keyboard shortcut that will let you save the changes and exit. Most of the time it will be the F10 key on your keyboard. When you're asked: “Save to CMOS and EXIT (Y/N)”:

    you must press the Y letter on your keyboard and your computer will restart and start from the Ubuntu CD bypassing all the blocking software installed on Windows.

In case you're on a public computer and you may get in trouble by making these changes, you can set everything as it was by following the same procedure and setting the HDD-0 (HARD DISK DRIVE) as the first boot device, saving the changes and no one will know about your deeds. If it's your computer, just make sure your mom doesn't find out that you're bypassing the blocking software, i.e., don't leave the Ubuntu CD in the drive! Be smart.

If you have any questions, don't hesitate about sending me an e-mail to kevindanielallen@gmail.com and I'll be happy to help you. The more that they block us, the smarter we get.

Kevin Daniel Allen