A configuration describes a specific adaptation of programs and / or hardware components of a computer to the existing system, as well as the system itself in its composition. A configuration consists of one or more settings and can therefore be understood as a summary (configuration settings) of these.
A hardware configuration is a specific combination of the components of a PC . So there is a configuration such. B. from a certain motherboard , a processor type , a certain graphics card and a certain hard drive . One can then, for example, configure the computer system in software so that it prints on a specific printer by installing a device driver .
The main problem with software configuration is that all processes in principle “forget” their configuration when they are terminated, including all electronic devices when they are switched off. Therefore there are a myriad of mechanisms to secure the configuration.
- This applies, for example, to starting up the computer, which is why it also means booting : the device can read configurations from non-volatile memories, but it must know how to read this memory. A start-up process is therefore always a process that continues from one configuration to the next. The initial memory that a standard desktop reads out is the BIOS , which is placed in its own small, battery-operated memory (usually an EPROM . Modern devices also use firmware based on flash memories ). There it can be read out in which memory areas the driver and its settings for the boot data carrier can be found, where the boot sector of a hard disk can be found, where the operating system can be read, and so on.
- The problem continues at a higher level, because the operating system also has to read its configuration (in Windows systems, for example, from the registry , in Unix- based systems from the configuration folders in the root directory ), and application software also requires default settings when it starts up, which are also in the Windows system Registry or in program-specific initialization files or databases .
Typical basic configurations (default configuration, presetting ) that can be used for general operation have become established. Based on this, a user can make his own system compositions and settings (user-defined configuration) , a process that is called tuning (actually: ' tuning a musical instrument') in analogy to the fine-tuning of old radio receivers . A default configuration that can be used when the settings cause problems (incorrect configuration) is called a fail-safe configuration ('fail-safe configuration').
Configuration is a central aspect of IT security . So that gives Federal Office for Information Security in the management report for 2005 that the complex "accidental misconfiguration / human error " is involved about 30% of the type of security breaches or attack on commercial IT systems, while the exploitation of the vulnerability almost 60% of the operating system or software is involved (the term 'weak point' includes real software errors as well as poor setup configuration).