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Chapter 3. Start Me Up: Controlling Wind... > The Boot Process, from Powerup to St...

The Boot Process, from Powerup to Startup

To better help you understand your Windows 98 startup options, let's take a closer look at what happens each time you fire up your machine. Although a computer performs dozens of actions during the boot process, most of them appeal only to wireheads and other hardware hackers. (A wirehead is, broadly speaking, an expert in the hardware aspects of PCs.) For our purposes, we can reduce the entire journey to the following 12-step program:

1.
When you flip the switch on your computer (or press the Restart button, if the machine is already running), the system performs various hardware checks. The system's microprocessor executes the ROM BIOS code, which, among other things, performs the Power-On Self Test (POST). The POST detects and tests memory, ports, and basic devices, such as the video adapter, keyboard, and disk drives. (You hear your floppy disk motors kick in briefly and the drive lights come on.) If the system has a Plug and Play BIOS, the BIOS also enumerates and tests the PnP-compliant devices in the system. If the POST goes well, you hear a single beep.

2.
Now the BIOS code looks for a boot sector on drive A (the drive light illuminates once more). If no disk is in the drive, the BIOS turns its attention to the hard disk and looks for the active (that is, bootable) partition and its boot sector.


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