View Full Version : How to recover from firmware update failure?
Jan 16, 2006, 02:14 PM
I received a call today from work (it's a holiday for me) concerning a problem with a 17" PowerBook. The caller reported that the user's laptop was locked up and to help them, held down the power button to force a restart. Unfortunately, they held the power button down until the firmware update tone came on. Of course, there was no firmware software to be installed, so they shut the Mac down and tried again. Now, every time they press the power button to restart, it returns to firmware installer mode.
How do I cancel this firmware update cycle? I've tried having the caller remove the battery, power cable, and holding down the power button for 5 seconds, but that didn't help. I'll be working on this laptop tomorrow, so I'm wondering how to proceed. I'm not even sure I'll be able to startup the PowerBook from an external hard drive, since something in the hardware seems poised to execute.
This is a 2-year old 17" PowerBook running Panther 10.3.9.
Thanks in advance for any ideas.
Jan 16, 2006, 02:21 PM
Are you sure its not booting into Single User Mode?
Otherwise, try resetting the NVRAM
Jan 16, 2006, 02:38 PM
No, I'm not sure. I'm relying on some comments from a non-geek Mac user who was trying to help someone else out at work. I'll get my hands on the laptop in the morning when I return to work. Thanks for the feedback.
Jan 17, 2006, 04:16 PM
No, it wasn't in Single User Mode.
The PowerBook kernel panicks whenever it's booted from a hard drive, either the internal or an external FireWire drive. It boots from Apple's OS X installer disks just fine. So, I did so and ran Disk Utility/Repair Volume and Repair Permissions. It said all was fine. Then I rebooted and ran Apple's Hardware Test 2.5, and again it found everything was OK. So, I booted into Open Firmware (cmd-opt-O-F) and entered reset-nvram and reset-all, with no effect. I then tried zapping the PRAM (cmd-opt-P-R), again with no effect.
I was successful in booting the laptop into Target FireWire mode, so I transferred the users apps/data/account over to another Mac, reformatted the laptop's hard drive, and reinstalled MacOS X 10.4. Upon reboot, the Mac again kernel panicked. So, I rebooted into Safe Mode (cmd-S) and finished the installation process for MacOS X 10.4, logged in, and went to the Desktop to assure everything had transferred successfully. All appeared well, so I rebooted, and again the Mac kernel panicked.
At this point it's clear that something is preventing the ATA/FireWire bus from booting any hard drive. When I asked the caller yesterday to hold the power button down and force a reboot, they held it down all the way to the firmware update tone, which I'm now suspecting may have locked up something on the logic board. Of course, it's also possible that yesterday something else failed on the logic board that the hardware test didn't discover, but I've run out of ideas.
So, I called AppleCare, reiterated all of the above, and they opened a ticket for the laptop. I'll be taking it in tomorrow, so we'll see what they do to fix it.
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