The Fundamentals Of Hardware And Operating Systems Computer Science Essay

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You are appointed as the new PC technician for Colombo computer solutions. The company is planning to open a new administrative branch in your city and with appropriate IT infrastructure. The management wishes you to simulate a small IT environment before they undertake a massive IT deployment. You need to perform the following practical tasks that will help you to answer the coursework assignment.

Also known as the backbone of the computer the computer motherboard connects and controls all the parts of the computer. The CPU, hard drives, video cards, memory, sound cards, optical drives, and other expansion cards connect and be a part of the computer through the motherboard directly or via cables. All the parts of the motherboard come in different sizes called form factors. Almost all motherboards have certain types of peripherals that are compatible with them. Some popular motherboard manufacturers are; ASUS, Biostar, Gigabyte, Intel, ABIT, MSI, AOpen. The internal components of the computer connect to the front of the motherboard. The CPU is housed in a single slot, while the memory modules can be connected to one or more of multiple slots. Also the hard drives, floppy drive, and optical drive are connected to other ports via ribbon cables. The power, LED lights, and the reset buttons function by connecting to the motherboard through small wires that run from the front of the computer case. Video cards, sound cards and other expansion cards connect to the motherboard via peripheral card slots located in the front of the motherboard. The external peripherals such as the keyboard, mouse, speakers, monitor, network cable, phone line, and printer, all connect to the motherboard via ports located on the left side of the computer casing. Three types of motherboards that are available on the market today are:

AT motherboard

ATX motherboard

BTX motherboard

Power supply

The most vital component, needed for the operation of a computer is the power supply. The computer will just be a box filled with metal and plastic. The power supply operated by converting the alternating current (AC) from the mains supply to lower voltage direct current which is needed by the computer. The power supply is easily distinguishable in a personal computer, since it is the metal box attached to the corner of the computer case and has a cooling fan and a power cord receptacle. Power supplies use a technology called switching power supplies to do its magic, by converting the large AC current lower DC current. Digital circuits generally use 3.3 - 5 V and motors which are used to run fans and disk drives generally use 12V. Earlier personal computers had large red toggle switches to turn them on. These switches had the hefty task of controlling 120V to the power supply. Nowadays computer can be turned on simply by the push of a little button, and you can turn it off by clicking an option on a computer menu. This mechanism worked when the operating system sends an order to the power supply to shut down. And so when the computer is turned on the little button which is pushed sends a signal of 5V to the power supply to turn it on. A circuit called VSB has 5V which is available even if the computer is officially off to enable the little push button to work.

Central Processing Unit (CPU)

The brain of the computer, the central processing unit (CPU) is where many processes take place, whether it be calculations, or executing orders. Being the most vital component of computer architecture the CPU necessitates printed circuit boards. A single chip called a micro processor houses the CPU in small workstations and PCs. The CPU comprises of two parts, the control unit and the arithmetic logic unit. Nowadays CPUs comprise of multiple metallic connectors and pins at the base and are very small and square in shape. The CPU is inserted directly into a CPU socket, pin side down on the motherboard. Each motherboard will support only a specific type or range of CPU so you must check the motherboard manufacturer's specification before attempting to replace or upgrade or a CPU. Modern CPU does also have an attached heat sink and a small fan that goes directly on top of the CPU to dissipate heat. Two of the most common CPU manufacturers are AMD and Intel. Some of the different types of CPU's available in the market today are:

Intel dual core

Core 2

Intel quad core

Intel core i5, i7

Memory modules

The state information of a computing system is called memory, since it is always kept active in some physical structure. Since there is a distinction from physical systems, which are quite slow to access, the term memory is often used to describe physical systems which are comparatively fast (that is the RAM). Virtual memory is where memory is kept on a conventionally large storage system. The connector and board used for the RAM have evolved over years. First came the SIMM.

SIMM - Single in-line Memory Module, has redundant contacts on both sides of this module. This used a 30 pin connector.

DIMM - Dual In-line Memory Module, has separate electrical contacts on either one side of its module. These are mostly used in workstations, personal computers, and servers. This used a 168 or 184 pin connector.

SODIMM - Small Outline In-line Memory Module, used in devices that have space restrictions such as small foot print PCs, notebooks, routers, and high end up gradable printers since they are almost half the size of DIMMs. This had a 144 - 200 pins.

Storage devices

Electronic data can be recorded and stored in devices called data storage devices. These data storage devices can be both non-removable and removable. Storage devices that are non-removable and used with the computer are CD/DVD writers, floppy drive, and the hard disk. Storage devices that are removable include flash drives.

Hard disk drive - The mainstays of mass data storage are the hard drives in computers. The operating system and data are stored in the hard drive. Modern day hard drives have a storage capacities ranging from 100GB to 500 GB and can go up to 1 terabyte.

CD/DVD drive - This device uses optical media such as CDs and DVDs to store data. The normal capacity of a compact disk is around 700MB. And the normal capacity of a DVD is around 4GB.

Flash drive - Being much smaller than a floppy disk a flash drive is integrated with USB 1.1 or 2.0. They are generally removable and can be rewritten.


Floppy drive - An older type of storage device used with the computer system A 5 ¼ inch drive is made up of a magnetic disk encased in vinyl and could store up to 1.2 megabyte of data. While a 3 ½ inch floppy drive used a magnetic disk encased in plastic that could store up to 1.44 megabytes of data.

Tape drive - A tape drive is a device that uses a cartridge or a magnetic tape to store data. And these are commonly used to backup data .Depending on the size of the cartridge they can have capacities from several hundred megabytes to several hundred gigabytes.

Display devices

To begin with a display device is an output device on which, visual, tactile, auditive information is shown. When it comes to computers, monitors are the display devices. There are commonly 3 types of monitors, each using a different technology;

CRT (Cathode Ray Tube)

These monitors generate images using rows of tiny colored dots. The more lines of dots there are per inch the clearer the resolution. So a 1024 x 768 resolution gives a clearer image than an 800 x 600 resolution.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

These monitors are flat paneled. This technology was first used in laptops before evolving to desktop monitors. It is also brighter than CRT monitors. This monitor has 5 layers, a sheet of polarized glass, a backlight, a mask of colored pixels, a second layer of polarized glass sheets and a layer of liquid crystal solution.

OLED (Organic Liquid Crystal Display)

OLED technology uses a light emitting diode in which the used emissive electroluminescent layer situated in between 2 electrodes is an organic compound that emits light when an electric current is passed through it.

Adaptor cards

Also known as an expansion card or an accessory card, adaptor cards are used to add new functionality to a computer, by inserting this printed circuit board into an expansion slot in the motherboard. One computer can hold around 1-7 cards, depending on the form factor. And for a back plane system up to 19 expansion cards can be installed. The edge connector, where the contacts are, fits into the slot. External devices can be fitted to the card using connectors mounted on the bracket. There are many types of expansion cards in the market, below are a few common types;


Network Card

Sound Card

MPEG Decoder

Video capture card

Interface card (ATA / Bluetooth / EIDE / IDE / Parallel / RISC / SCSI /Serial / USB)

Video Card

Peripheral Ports

Ports are a medium that allows external devices like monitor, keyboard, mouse, printer, scanner to get connected to the computer, thus allowing the machine to achieve full functionality. These ports are located at the back of the motherboard and also at the front of the computer case. When a device is connected across a port, it first shares information about it self, before data is actually sent. This process is known as hand shaking. The two main types of bidirectional ports are serial and parallel. Serial ports send data one bit at a time while the parallel port send data several bits at a time. There are several types of ports:



Local area network port

Universal Serial Bus port

Fire wire

Computer cases

Computer cases are usually a type of housing used to protect the inner circuitry and components of a computer system from physical harm and external electromagnetic interference. Generally a computer case is made up of and expansion seat card, a chassis, a front bezel, and components connectable to external systems and apparatus all fitted together with screws. The latest development in this field is that the screws are excluded and hooks are used instead. The shape of a computer case usually takes the form of a tower as it is the most stable design. There are several solid purposes for using computer cases:

The internal components are shielded against external electromagnetic interferences, dust, and ESD.

It provides a protective housing to all the components like motherboard, hard drives, expansion cards, and ROM drives.

The computer case grounds all the other internal components of a system unit electrically. .

Peripheral ports

Being worthless without a keyboard, monitor, mouse, and a computer must have some way to connect external devices. Peripheral ports allow this, by providing a medium to connect these external devices. There are a number of ports and connectors involved in bringing external devices and the computer to contact.

Serial port - Devices like keyboards and mouse, which didn't require high speeds, use this port. This port sends data one bit at time.

Parallel - Parallel ports were used for devices that needed data to be processed much faster, like printers. These ports send data several bits at a time.

Local area network port - Also known as a RJ-45 port, this particular port is used in a network to connect computers to each other and also to use in high speed internet connections such as cable or DSL. The LAN port also uses an Ethernet cable for the connection.

Universal Serial Bus port - An USB cable and connector is needed order to connect to a USB port. Devices that use the USB ports to connect to the computer are keyboards, mouse, digital cameras, printers and so on.

Firewire - Also known as i.LINK, IEEE 1394, this port was developed in the first place to transmit data in between digital devices. Because of the speed at which it transmits data, which is far faster than USB it is the perfect port to transmit audio and video files.

DB connector - Most commonly called D- sub this connector, this connector got its name because of its trapezoidal shape. Most of these connectors have 2 rows of pins. DB9 and DB25 are two of the most common DB connectors. DB connectors are usually named after the amount of pins they hold. Also they are special types of connectors called HD connectors, where the pins are quite smaller and tightly packed than DB connectors. There is also the micro DB connector, with even smaller pins.

RJ - Used with telephone lines and Ethernet cables, RJ connectors comprises of 5o pin miniature ribbons and modular connectors. RJ connectors have common standard designs named as RJ45, RJ11, RJ14, RJ21 and so on.

DIN - Being used mainly for keyboards and other MIDI instruments, DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung) connectors are round in shape and have pins arranged inside it in a regular circular pattern.

Mini-DIN - As the name suggests, being smaller than DIN connectors, Mini DIN connectors are used in s-video connections, PS2 mouse, and keyboards. They are round in shape, but instead of the pins being arranged circularly, in Mini DIN connectors, they are arranged in horizontal rows.


Centronics - These types of connectors were used to connect printers. And there are three types of centronic connectors which are;

Centronics 36 - Here the connector has 18 contacts distributed in two rows. And used specially for printers.

Micro centronics 36 - Being half the size of centronics 36, this connector has 36 pins distributed evenly between two rows. This connector is used for printers, copiers, scanners e .t. c .

Centronics 50 - This connector has 25 pins arranged in 2 rows, held in place by bail locks.

Task 2

Task 2 - 20 Marks

a) List the 3 most popular types of mother boards, their components and their architecture (6 marks)

b) Identify the purpose of CMOS memory in your PC and list out what it contains. Describe how and when it is necessary to change the CMOS parameters (6 marks)

c) You are required to use two different types of Printers and list the following information derived from each printer:

What are the printer technologies, interfaces and options for upgrades available for your printers? (4 marks)

What are the 2 common printer problems which you can expect from our printers, list out remedies for the problems using appropriate references? (4 marks)

(a) Motherboard

Also known as the backbone of the computer the computer motherboard connects and controls all the parts of the computer. All the parts of the motherboard come in different sizes called form factors. Almost all motherboards have certain types of peripherals that are compatible with them. Therefore it is the duty of the manufacturer to let the user know about component capabilities. Some popular motherboard manufacturers are; ASUS, Biostar, Gigabyte, Intel, ABIT, MSI, AOpen. The three most common types of motherboards are:

AT motherboard - Being 11 inches long and 12 inches wide, Full AT motherboards is the first of the two types of AT motherboards. Full AT motherboards had problems with accessing, installing, and troubleshooting some items fixed on the motherboard because the drive bays were hung in front of the motherboard. And also the adapter cards covered the processor when fixed on to the motherboard and so making the processor over heat. And so one fine day Baby AT was born. This was 2/3 smaller than full AT and had plug and play capabilities and SIMM and DIMM connectors.

ATX motherboard - Being 12 inches long and 7.5 inches wide

In 1995, Intel wanted a system board that would be used to support the Pentium II processor and the new AGP slot, so the ATX form factor was built. The ATX board is 7.5 inches wide and 12 inches long and has all the IO ports integrated directly into the board, including USB ports. The ATX board introduced a 100 MHz system bus, whereas older Pentium boards ran at 60/66 MHz and had one AGP slot for video cards. The ATX board also had soft power support, which meant that the system could be shut down by the operating system. The ATX form factor rotated the baby AT components by 90 degrees so that any cards inserted into the bus architectures would not cover the processor and prevent proper cooling.

BTX motherboard

BTX (for Balanced Technology Extended) is a form factor for motherboards, originally slated to be the replacement for the aging ATX motherboard form factor. It has been designed to alleviate some of the issues that arose from using newer technologies (which often demand more power and create more heat) on motherboards compliant with the circa-1996 ATX specification.

Low-profile - With the push for ever-smaller systems, a redesigned backplane that shaves inches off height requirements is a benefit to system integrators and enterprises who use rack mounts or blade servers.

Thermal design - The BTX layout establishes a straighter path of airflow with fewer obstacles, resulting in better overall cooling capabilities. A distinct feature of BTX is the vertical mounting of the motherboard on the left-hand side. This results in the graphics card heat sink or fan facing upwards, rather than in the direction of the adjacent expansion card.

Structural design - The BTX standard specifies different locations for hardware mounting points, thereby reducing latency between devices, and also reduces the physical strain imposed on the motherboard by heat sinks, capacitors and other components dealing with electrical and thermal regulation. For example, the Northbridge and Southbridge chips are located near each other and to the hardware they control.

(b) CMOS

CMOS, short for Complementary Metal Oxide Semiconductor Is an MOS technology in which both P-channel and N-channel devices are fabricated on the same die CMOS is a widely used type of semiconductor. CMOS semiconductors use both NMOS (negative polarity) and PMOS (positive polarity) circuits. Since only one of the circuit types is on at any given time, CMOS chips require less power than chips using just one type of transistor. This makes them particularly attractive for use in battery-powered devices, such portable computers. Personal computers also contain a small amount of battery-powered CMOS memory to hold the date, time, and system setup parameters. CMOS topology is very attractive also because circuitry logic synthesis is made automatically. So, you derive logical equation of digital circuit and don't bother about optimization and topology. It is also a good idea to adopt CMOS topology because there will never be an high impedance node, so you gain robustness and noise margin is always maximum.

(c) (i) Printers

Inkjet printer

Being the most common printer available, inkjet printers create a printed page by propelling drops of ionized ink of varied sizes on it. This effect is achieved by magnetized plated inside the printer which directs the drops' path according to the desired pattern. A standard inkjet printer presents a resolution of 300 dots per inch. High quality images colored and black and white with different resolutions can be produced with an inkjet printer.

Laser printer

Having the capability of rapidly producing high quality images and text on plain paper, laser printers use the xerographic printing process like multifunction printers and digital photocopiers. The thing that differs between analog photocopier images and laser images is that laser images are created by the direct scanning of a laser beam across the printers' photoreceptor.

(ii) Two Common problems associated with printers

Problem - Clogging of the printer head (this is the part which distributes the ink from the cartridge of ink onto the paper which is to be printed). This print head consists of small holes that usually tend to clot after repeated use of the printer. This clogging problem usually results in long white lines that go through the printed text and images.

Solution - The usual remedy for this situation is to wipe the ink clogged holes in the print head with some rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab. Then wipe it dry, with a clean dry tissue. At last take a test print, just to be sure that the problem isn't persisting.

Problem - Paper jams in the printer, usually caused by dust and debris gathered in the rubber rollers after long printing sessions.

Solution - Carefully, open the printer up. Usually compressed air works. But the better solution is to gently rub alcohol to dissolve the more persistent gunk.

Task 3

Task 3 - 20 Marks

For this task and subsequent tasks you need to set up a small Windows XP network, using at least 3 computers. Produce a report with appropriate screen capture evidencing your practical work and covering the following information:

a) Identify the types of network cables their characteristics and the connectors which you will use for the network. (5 marks)

b) Research and list five different technologies available for Internet connectivity for your network and list their strengths and weaknesses. (10 marks)

c) List the 5 Networking capabilities of Windows XP (5 marks)

(a) Network cables

Coaxial cable

Coaxial cables are electrical cables that are made up of and inner conducting cable, surrounded by a flexible insulating layer, surrounded by again a conducting shield, surrounded by a plastic jacket. These cables are used as a transmission line for the radio frequency signals to travel, to use in applications such as the internet. The connector used to terminate this cable is the BNC connector. Every layer of this cable got connected to the network using BNC T connector, ending in a 50ohm terminator. The maximum length for this type of cable is 600 feet.

Ethernet cables

Devices such as routers, modems, adapters use Ethernet cables to connect to networks. They are terminated by RJ-45 connectors. They use Ethernet protocol to transmit data.

UTP cables

UTP (unshielded twisted pair) cables are made of two conductor wires which are twisted together for the purpose of cancelling out any external effects such as electro magnetic radiation. Many telephone systems and Ethernet networks use this type of cabling. A 25 standard color code is used to group UTP into sets of 25 pairs.

Cat5 cables

Commonly known as EIA/TIA Cat5 cables are Ethernet network cables. This is the most popularly used twisted pair cable. This cable has fast Ethernet conducting speeds up to 100Mbps. Made up of four pairs of copper cables; Cat5 cables run up to 100m in length. There are two main types of solid and stranded. RJ45 connectors are used and there are three types of configurations of pin out which are used, which are; cross over, straight through and rollover.

Fiber optics

These cables have replaced the copper conducting wiring by a plastic or glass transfer medium. These cables are terminated by a fiber connector. There are two categories of these cables, single mode and multi mode. Fiber optics can be used for internet connectivity.

(b) Types of internet connectivity


This type of connection uses a modem that is connected to a computer and dials in the connection using a phone line. Speed of this connection ranges from 2400 bps to 56Kbps.


Cheapest method of connection

Safest method of connection because of the rotation of IP addresses.


Very slow, low quality, connection lost at times

Good enough to read text documents, not images.

Requires phone line


ADSL (Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line) is regarded as broadband internet. A phone network is necessary to provide the broadband connection. Speeds go from 128Kbps to 8Mbps.


High speeds

Always connected


Download speeds are faster than upload speeds making it unsuitable for users who send heavy multimedia over the internet.

If the traffic on the phone line is high, connection slows down.


The cable connection is achieved through cable TV lines. By sharing the coaxial cables used for the TV without affecting the TVs' performance in any way. This is also known as a shared medium. Speeds can go up to 27Mbps


No phone line required

Very high speeds

Distance from the home cable connection does not affect the connection speed.



Less secure, since cable lines are shared.

Wireless Internet

Wireless technology achieves the connection using radio frequencies, and is always connected. A wireless router and a network adapter are needed.


No cables required, thus very mobile.

Workstations are easier to add and move.


There might be interferences from external devices.

All geographic areas are not covered.


As the size of a Wireless Local Area Network increases data transfer rate decreases.



Also known as Internet over Satellite (IoS), here the connection is achieved by satellites. Signals from the earth get reflected from the satellite and bounces back to another location on earth. Speeds can range from 492 - 512 Kbps.


A high bandwidth is available

A large geographic area is covered


The initial cost is too expensive.

Can be vulnerable to signal interruptions.

Can be slower since the signal has to travel great distances.

(c) Networking capabilities of Windows XP

Remote desktop

Remote desktop allows us to access a windows XP computer from another computer elsewhere on the home network or by the use of the internet. Thus if the user is at home, he can access the session on his computer at work. And if we have a home network, we can share our applications and files throughout all the computers using the remote desktop facility. Even if we are travelling, remote desktop enables us to access our home computer using an internet kiosk for the purpose of checking put emails or use other applications. This service requires user names and passwords, and encrypts all communications thus given more protection from network attacks.

Internet information services (IIS)

This facility allows a user to turn his computer into a web server. The IIS in Windows professional OS allows almost up to 10 users to connect to the website you created at one time. The IIS has programmatic features like active server pages, which allows users to make and set out scalable, flexible web sites.

Offline files and folders

This facility allows a user to work with his files and folders which are available at his office's network's shared folder. This facility automatically creates a copy of shared folders on your own computer so when you disconnect from the office network you can still work with the files available in the office network. These files are updated automatically the next time you connect to the office network.

Domains and active directory

This utility gives the user the capability of joining a domain and accessing their shared resources.

Wireless networking

With its growing popularity in coffee shops, airports, offices, and homes, wireless networking gives the user the facility of connecting to computers at home or office using radio signals and infra red signals.

Task 4

Task 4 - 30 Marks

For this task you need to do a fresh install of Windows XP (or later operating system permitted by your tutor) on a computer. Prepare a report evidencing your practical work covering the following questions:

a) List out the names, locations, purposes and contents of any 10 Windows XP (or later versions permitted) system files. (10 marks)

b) Use the following tools in Windows such as Microsoft Management Console (MMC), Event Viewer and Task Manager on the system. List out the practical uses of these tools. (10 marks)

c) Install two new devices after you have installed the Operating system and list out the procedures which you used for adding and configuring the device drivers. (10 marks)

System files

These files are created and maintained by the operating system and are necessary for the system to perform its many functions. System files are used by many commands and subroutines to perform operations. These files can only be changed by a user with root authority.


Location - C:\WINDOWS\system32

Purpose - The desktop, taskbar, and user interface features, is the user shell we see. Not being vital to the running of the machine this process can be stopped and restarted by the use of the task manager. And this does not pose any threat on other applications. If this file is deleted, your desktop will not show up on start up.


Location - C:\WINDOWS\system32

Purpose - The location of one or more operating systems installed in the machine are contained within this document. Entries giving boot options such as recovery console and safe mode are also there the file boot.ini.


Location - C:\WINDOWS\system32

Purpose - This file is in control of the keyboard. This file contains all the necessary details for the running of the keyboard.


Location - C:\WINDOWS\system32

Purpose - Created when the computer goes into the hibernation mode, this file contains information for the system to use when it is back on.


Location -

Purpose - This file is contains text like entries that control the appearance of the desktop, windows, the colors used in windows, and also file associations and other internal aspects of the windows graphical user interface.


Location - C:\WINDOWS

Purpose -


Location - C:\

Purpose - This file is vital as it is needed to boot up the machine.


Location - C:\WINDOWS\system32

Purpose - This file is responsible for all the system dispatch stubs to executive functions and internal support functions


Location - C:\WINDOWS\system32

Purpose -


Location -

Purpose -

Microsoft management console

The main purpose of Microsoft management console (MMC) is provide the user with a central location on which he can use any administrative tool to administer networks, services, computers, and any other system components.

Microsoft management console, is an application used to hold snap-ins (a snap in is defined as an ActiveX module, which is usually used to perform a specific function) and allow for them to be functional.

A remote computer can be controlled using a console. This can be done using a command line prompt command, consolename.msc / computer=computername.

You can also use this to export data to use in a different format.

There are 4 modes in Microsoft management console

Task manager

This application is used to take glance into the processes, memory, threads, and applications which are currently executing in the system. Using task manager one can, tweak the system at run time, troubleshoot, and monitor the system. This application can be opened by pressing CTRL +ALT+DEL. There are tabs in the task manager application which we can use to perform certain tasks.

Application tab - This shows all the applications that are currently running and what their status is. This is used also to kill applications at once when they are not responding.

Processes - This particular tab shows all the applications and parameters running in the system and is also used to monitor processor usage, memory usage, paging.

Performance - This tab lets the user monitor memory usage and the overall processor.

Event viewer

This application is used to keep track of all the events that occurred in a computer local or remote and this maybe helpful to get to the root of a problem that may have occurred in the system. This application can be opened by opening the control panel and selecting the option performance and maintenance and then administrative tools and computer management or else you can select the event viewer option in the MMC. The event viewer keeps 3 types of logs.

Application logs - This log has record of the applications and programs that ran on a computer

System logs- This log consist of logs created whenever a user does something on the computer, like opening, closing, deleting files and even attempted log ins. Only the administrator can change which events can be logged in this file and which are not.

Security logs - This log holds details of the actions of the Windows XP components.

Windows vista ultimate installation

The first step when installing an operating system is to insert the disk containing the operating system into the CD/DVD drive and restart the machine. When the keys Del or F1 are pressed it takes you to the BIOS setup. When the computer is booting up, it automatically detects the disk and loads and installs the necessary files.

Once some of the files necessary are loaded and installed, a user interface will appear. On which the user has to select the language in which the installation has to take place, the date and time, the currency, and the method of input. And click next to proceed.

On this user interface, the option install now has to be clicked to begin the installation of the new OS.

When this "collecting information" interface appears we have to enter the product key of the OS and click next to get a user agreement to which the user has to agree to proceed.

The user must then select the preferred installation type. In this case custom installation is selected. And then the location at which the OS is to be installed should be selected by the user.

And now the installing of the OS has begun. Files are being copied now, and the system is liable to restart a couple of times.

This interface shows which features are being installed. The green tick marks at the front indicates that those features are installed.

Windows is just finishing installation.

The machine reboots a couple of times to finish installation procedures.

Finally the installation is complete. This user interface requires the user to enter a user name and password for a user account.

In this window, select the second option (install important updates for windows only), as this is appropriate and keeps the OS up to date.

Use this user interface to enter the current date and time, as required by the user.

Finally, all the installation procedures are complete. Now the user has to click button start to log on to the system and start working.

Device installation

Installation of a printer

To install a printer to the computer one must first connect the printer to the computer. Then the user must go to the control panel, and click the option add printer to get this window. In this case "Add a local printer" is clicked.

Select the needed printer port from this interface.

In this window select the printer you want to install. And click next to continue.

In the window which appears next the user should select the preferred option. In this case the second option is selected.

And now the installation of the printer begins.

And at last the printer is fully installed into the computer.

The window that appears next shows that the installed printer is selected and ready to use.

The window below shows that the device manager has listed the freshly installed printer.

Installation of a network card

When installing a network interface card, the first step is to go to the control panel. In the control panel there is an option called hardware menu. Click that option.

When this is clicked the computer will automatically search for the hardware devices connected to the computer.

So the computer will come across the freshly connected network adapter and display it. On this menu click the option next to continue installing the network card.

After installing the network card the computer shows this interface. On this click finish to finish the installation process.

Task 5

Task 5 - 10 Marks

Research your hardware and OS software and prepare a report:

a) Listing the meaning of common error codes and start-up messages from the boot sequence. (5 marks)


b) List the common Windows XP diagnostic utilities and tools, describing the usage of each of these. (5 marks)

POST error codes

At the click of the start button on a CPU, a computer starts to boot up. During this booting process of the computer a number of tests called POST(Power On Self Test) is performed, to make sure that all the components necessary for the functioning of the computer are working properly. In most computers, one beep at start up indicates that the machine is functioning properly. If by any chance there is a problem, the computer will indicate this by beeping out a code or will not beep at all.

IBM BIOS beep codes

Beep Sound


1 short beep

Normal POST - system is ok

2 short beeps

POST Error - error code shown on screen

No beep

Power supply or system board problem

Continuous beep

Power supply, system board, or keyboard problem

Repeating short beeps

Power supply or system board problem

1 long, 1 short beep

System board problem

1 long, 2 short beeps

Display adapter problem (MDA, CGA)

1 long, 3 short beeps

Enhanced  Graphics Adapter (EGA)

3 long beeps

3270 keyboard card

AMI BIOS beep codes

AWARD BIOS beep codes

Numerical error codes

At some situations if the monitor is functioning properly, the machine gives this error not as a beep code but as a message displaying a numerical error code. But if by any chance the monitor too has failed the user will have a tough time trying to figure out what the error is.

Windows diagnostic tools

Systems restore

Changes to a system can be made knowingly or unknowingly by people. These changes can be both satisfying and at times unsatisfying. So a way to reverse these changes is vital in a computer system. The systems restore utility available in windows helps in reversing the changes done on a system like the rolling back of registry keys, system files, installed programs and so on. A restore point can be created by the user himself or an already existing restore can be used.

Disk defragmenter

When some files are stored or deleted from the hard disk they are fragmented or noncontiguous. This fragmentation can slow down the performance of the hard disk as it has to move its head to different parts to locate all the pieces of the file. So the disk fragmentation utility helps to reorganize all these dispersed pieces properly thus increasing the performance and reliability of the system.

Disk cleanup

Regular maintenance of a computer system is as necessary as a human maintains good health. The disk clean up utility helps in this task by searching for and removing all the unnecessary files in the hard disk and compressing unused files. This will free considerate amounts of disk space on the hard disk sometimes.

Device manager

The device manager utility gives the user a platform to view and configure all the hardware devices installed on a computer. And also the way in which the hardware interacts with the computer's micro processor.

System information

The system information utility helps the user by giving the user a platform to view the system configuration information. Thus when a problem occurs with the system the support technician can view the system information easily to help resolve the problem.

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