The firmware located in a PC, commonly called the BIOS, is responsible for bringing all of the system hardware to a state at which it is ready to boot an operating system. Systems vary, but this process usually includes system initialization, the testing of memory and other devices, and ultimately locating an operating system from among several storage devices. In addition, the BIOS provides a low-level system configuration interface, allowing the user to choose such things as boot devices and resource assignments. Quite a few BIOS firmware vendors provide customized versions of their products for various PC system architectures. Exams do require an understanding of the basics. For example, a laptop BIOS may differ significantly from a desktop system of similar capability from the same manufacturer. Due to these variations, it’s impossible to test specifics, but the LPIC Level 1 exams do require an understanding of the basics.
At boot time, most PCs display a method of entering the BIOS configuration utility, usually by entering a specific keystroke during startup. Once the utility is started, a menu-based screen in which system settings can be configured appears. Depending on the BIOS vendor, these will include settings for disks, memory behavior, on-board ports (such as serial and parallel ports), and the clock, as well as many others.