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Command-line application that shows BIOS information for very old mainboards, in order to help users understand what's under the hood

editor's review




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What is the first thing that happens when you turn your PC on? What really happens in that short time preceding the information shown on your screen? BIOS happens. Actually, BIOS or the Basic Input/Output System is the first thing that starts to work in there. It is the boot firmware after all, and in order to bring your components to life, you need it.

For computer enthusiasts, BIOS is like a playground for children. Many have seen that blue screen with yellow text and red highlights, but few have ever understood the meaning of it. Those that felt intrigued by this software tool could have spent hours in front of that particular blue screen. Documentation in this case was essential and luckily, the motherboards come packed with a user manual that takes you understand everything there is to know.

BIOS reader for older mainboards

CTBIOS is yet another BIOS reader. Its only problem is time – the year 2000, to be more specific. Any newer mainboards won't allow the program to accurately display the details. Apart from that, the application will look for a nice number of BIOS features and lay them on your screen. It is a command-line based tool, so you won't get struck by an actual interface other than pure white over black.

Examine BIOS information

As soon as you run CTBIOS, the information will automatically get printed in the command-line window. The first two lines refer to the computer ID and type and this is where the form-factor of your PC will get shown (AT / ATX / micro-ATX or mini-ATX are just a few examples). The next two lines will inform you of the mouse support provided by BIOS and thus, the motherboard.

Details about the BIOS memory are split into Main and Extended, while the BIOS creation date is also shown. AMI-BIOS powered mainboards will also get their version printed on the screen. The OEM ID, URL and Chipset lines will set the mainboard's manufacturer and model, while the PnP lists the versions of the Plug and Play interface as well as the DMI (Direct Media Interface – the link between the Intel northbridge and southbridge).


CTBIOS will provide users with parameters to widen the spectrum of its use. We can read the password data stored in the BIOS and details about the DMI and ESCD (Extended System Configuration Data – ISA PnP devices stored information). This tool will surely come in handy for reading the BIOS of motherboards prior to 2001. On the other hand, it is available in German only and does not work for modern mainboards.

CTBIOS was reviewed by Alexandru Pintilie
Last updated on July 24th, 2014
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