Gigabyte BIOS

Ok, the first piece of crap software that I’m going to talk about is the BIOS on my Gigabyte “GA-8IPE775 Pro” motherboard.

What’s crap about this particular piece of software? Well, initially I didn’t think there was anything particularly crap about it, but I was wrong. See, the board has an onboard sound chip (AC’97) which isn’t particularly fancy but which can at least perform the basic task normally put to it, that is, to produce sound (which is actually transmitted down the cable plugged in to the speaker jack, you know how it goes).

However I wanted to use Skype* and what’s more I wanted the “ring” sound to come through the speakers whereas the voice (incoming and outgoing) to be handled via a headset. This required a second sound card to be installed to handle the headset – no wories, I happened to have a Creative sound card based on the ES1370 chip lying around (well, I think lazz might have given it to me at some point). So I plonked it in a spare PCI slot.

Upon booting up, I was slightly pissed off to discover that all trace of the onboard sound controller had disappeared. Windows device manager denied all knowledge and “lspci” under linux no longer showed the device at all. Bugger. It took me narely a minute to figure that the BIOS might be responsible, so I rebooted and went in to the BIOS setup. There you have all these nice options to disable onboard peripherals such as the IDE controller and, indeed, the audio controller. In fact, I noticed, there are two possible settings for the audio controller: “disabled” and “auto”. It was at this point that I began to get pissed off.

Basically, it emerged, the BIOS wasn’t going let me have the onboard sound as well as another sound card. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And crap.

Fortunately being one of those elite hacker types I was able to hack LILO to re-enable to onboard controller before booting the operating system, after downloading the chipset datasheet from Intel’s web site (good job Intel, very impressed by the level of documentation which is freely available).

So the end result is ok, but it would have saved me a lot of time if the BIOS had just had a third setting to allow me to enable the AC’97 regardless of whether another sound card was plugged in.

* Skype: Surely the topic of a future post

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