The BIOS (Basic Input/Output System) is used to find the device on which the operating system is located and starts it up. It's also used for the initial hardware configuration and low-level hardware access.
The appearance of plug'n'play devices and their widespread use means that all modern BIOSes can initialize these devices. In order for Linux to recognize plug'n'play devices, your BIOS must be configured to initialize them.
Changing your BIOS' settings is usually performed by holding down the Del key (some BIOSes may use the F1, F2, F10 or Esc keys instead) right after the computer is switched on. Unfortunately, there are so many types of BIOSes, you will need to look for the appropriate option yourself. It's often called (or ). Set this option to No and the BIOS will then initialize any plug'n'play devices, which helps Linux to recognize them.
If you want to use a parallel printer connected locally to your machine, make sure the parallel port mode is set to ECP+EPP (or at least to one of ECP or EPP) and not to SPP, unless you have a really old printer. If the parallel port is not set this way you might still be able to print, but your printer will not be detected automatically and you will have to configure it manually. Also make sure the printer is properly connected to your machine and powered on beforehand.