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How do I configure BIOS to have a higher boot priority from my disk drive than from my hard drive? If there is no disk, will it boot from my hard drive instead?

Thanks, I am trying to run Ubuntu off of a LiveCD on my Dell Inspiron 1520, which normally runs Windows XP.

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

When you start your computer, you should see during a short laps of time the Dell logo on your screen, and certainly at the top right angle of your screen, the key you need to press to enter BIOS config and/or Boot menu (usually F12 or F11, sometimes Escape).

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Okay, F12 worked! Thanks! – Cyclone Aug 20 '09 at 18:25
Also, F2 is a common one. – Troggy Aug 20 '09 at 19:26

You need to configure this at boot-up, in the BIOS settings. As your computer starts booting, press F2 multiple times till the BIOS settings come up. On some computers you'll have to press F11 instead - normally your computer will tell you as it boots which key you need to use to get into the BIOS settings.

In the BIOS settings, there'll be a section to configure the boot-up sequence. This will normally be:

  1. HDD drive
  2. CD/DVD drive
  3. Network boot

It'll also have instructions on how to change the sequence so CD/DVD drive gets a higher priority. Do that so CD/DVD drive is at #1, which will automatically change HDD drive to #2. Save the settings using the instructions on the screen and exit. If you don't know how to save the settings, press Esc and you should get a prompt asking if you want to save and exit.

Let the computer reboot. It should detect your LiveCD and boot into that.

When you are done, you should change the boot-up sequence back.

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Bios setting are dependent on the motherboard installed, but they will fall down through the options like you want.

You can usually access the bios by hitting the bios key during boot, sometimes they will tell you which one, sometimes it just takes guessing around until it works.

Common keys are F10, F11, F12, ESC, or F2.

I think in your case it's probably F2.

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