G4 Powerbook, HDD swap / external boot?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by ghostly606, Jan 10, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #1
    The motherboard on my 17" G4 Powerbook (10.5.8) has died and I have been quoted £400GBP for a replacement. I am considering buying a smaller laptop (15" G4 Powerbook) and swapping the HDD from the original to the new one - is it as straightforward as this or do I need to take other things into account?

    Alternatively, can I use the old HDD as an external HDD to boot from or even simply for storage?

    Thanks,
    g
     
  2. macrumors 603

    justperry

    #2
    Yes, you should be able to swap it and it is also possible to boot from if you put it in an external casing.
    You could put in an external case and then just use Carbon Copy Cloner to copy over to the internal.

    Or, you may find a Logic board for the 17" on Ebay.
     
  3. macrumors 6502a

    ybz90

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #3
    I'm sure you have your reasons, but as always, one must ask why not upgrade now to an Intel Mac?

    Alternately, if you're up for it, you can replace the logic board yourself (and use this opportunity to redo the thermal paste on the heatsink; Apple's stock paste solution is utter garbage). It's one of the "harder" upgrades in that you have take almost everything out to replace it, but if you've done any work like this before, it's really not bad at all. In fact, the other day, I just completely rebuilt a 15" which is humming along just fine right now.

    A working logic board from eBay will probably run you less than a complete 15" incher or you could perhaps even find a broken screen 17" and cannibalize its board (and have spares of other parts, or just part it out).
     
  4. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #4
    Hi,

    Thanks both for your replies.

    Re: Intel Mac - I would dearly love to be able to afford an intel mac but unfortunately I do not have the funds to buy one.

    I have decided to buy a smaller powerbook on ebay, keep my hard drive and sell off the 17 inch for spares. This should limit my outlay to less than £50 (considerably less hopefully) and I have a clean install machine, an extra hard drive, a better battery and a more portable laptop out of it.

    Cheers,
    g
     
  5. macrumors regular

    Philscbx

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Location:
    Mpls Mn
    #5
    Maybe I missed something - This PowerPC is now roughly 6-8 years old.
    My PowerBook 15" is Feb 05 vintage - still works - but very painfully slow even maxed out with RAM.
    The Wifi antenna is the worst in the industry.

    The batteries are not the best either - I purchased two extra plus the dual charger from OWC -
    that's supposed to restore them - I don't think that actually happened either, but it looks cool.

    The one thing is the Hard Drive -
    At about 5 years old - Drives are getting near the problem zone.
    Hopefully this isn't going to be an issue in the one purchased.
    Unless previous owner replaced it already.

    I had a chat with OWC to show me what SSD would work in this old guy.
    I haven't jumped at the deal yet - but it's way over due to happen.

    My main purpose is to not have to travel across town with gear -
    Leave the MBP at the shop - and keep old Guy at home to just surf and minor image stuff.

    Good Luck -
    Update when possible how it works out.
    Hopefully someone has a flawless deal for You.
    If I dig out my extra batteries and they test out fair - I could make a deal for Ya.
    I still recall the coolest feature - Lighted Keys - Years ahead of anyone.
     
  6. macrumors 6502a

    seveej

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #6
    Sounds like a plan. Depending on which drive (your 17" or the one in the 15") is better (bigger, faster, newer), you will either need to open up one or both machines.
    * if you intend to move the drive, ifixit has all the details
    * if you keep the 15" drive, you'll need to take out the 17" drive, put it in an external FireWire enclosure, boot it up from there, and then use superduper or carbon copy cloner to clone the drive.
    Sadly (compared to most later model pro laptops), changing drive on a PowerBook is not entirely without risk of damage to the casing, so I'd try to avoid opening the 15" if there are no weighty reasons to do so.

    RGDS,
     
  7. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #7
    My plan is to retain the 15" drive and have the 17" as an extra boot drive, which I will use for my pro audio / film editing needs, keeping the internal HDD free for iTunes, family photos and general net surfing type stuff for all the family. I already have another external firewire drive that I use for storeage of samples and streaming of audio / video.

    Edit: I meant to ask, can I not have the 17" in a USB enclosure? I may need to hook up this and my existing FireWire drive simultaneously.
     
  8. macrumors 6502a

    ybz90

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #8
    That would work fine, but as a previous poster mentioned, I would be concerned about the longevity of these mechanical PATA drives. They are all out of production and most of them are several years old. Even if they don't have bad sectors yet, they definitely suffer higher failure chance due to old age. You should check the SMART status of your drives just in case.

    I definitely understand the need to keep costs down and I'm not sure what the used market is like in the UK, but could you not seek out a used Intel instead? I see great condition older Intel Macbooks (think of Core 2 Duo vintage) routinely in the $300 or less range, so roughly £150?

    It's definitely a higher outlay to replace your PowerBook but the processor for even earlier white MacBooks is on the order of 3-4x more powerful than the fastest G4 released on a PowerBook (1.67GHz). Plus you get the advantage of more recent software and faster chipsets and buses (the SATA speed will be greatly superior to PATA). I recommend that you at least take a look to see if a good deal can be had for an Intel Mac.
     
  9. macrumors 6502a

    seveej

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #9
    If you intend to clone the OS and stuff from your old machine onto the new, you cannot boot from the new machine's internal drive (as you are basically going to overwrite it). The PowerBook allows booting ony from internal drives (HDD, DVD) and FireWire drives. Thus you either need to place your old machine's HDD in a FireWire enclosure (and boot form it) or boot from your existing FireWire drive (if it has an installed system).

    RGDS,
     
  10. macrumors G3

    eyoungren

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Location:
    Phoenix, AZ USA
    #10
    That may be true. But there are alternatives. A little international hard drive company you may recognize called Western Digital makes the Scorpio Blue, PATA hard drive available in 100, 250 and 320GB sizes. New Egg (newegg.com) also sells new hard drives.

    It's not like PATA hard drive manufacturers have ceased all production and you can not ever find a brand new PATA hard drive and thus have to resort to eBay for nothing but used HDs!

    Logicboards can be found on eBay for at least half of the $300 for an Intel Mac you are talking about. Using the guides at iFixit it's a simple matter to open the Mac up and at a minimum get the HD out. Logicboard replacement is a bit more involved, but you save money.

    It's not impossible to repair the OPs PowerBook yet. I can understand the direction the Intel guys are pushing you in OP, but you should at least be aware of your other options.
     
  11. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #11
    Ah, I didn't realise that, but it makes sense I guess. Where can I get a FireWire enclosure for such a HDD as a quick google search has turned up nothing. I may consider just using my original HDD I guess but it would mean opening up the 15" which I would rather avoid if possible. My existing FireWire drive does not have an installed system.

    Thanks everyone for taking the time to reply. Even the PB I am looking at (£100) is borderline out of my price range and going any higher is just not an option right now, but I definitely don't rule out upgrading to an Intel Mac in the not so distant future once funds permit. FYI, a quick eBay search has highlighted that a Macbook Pro (I really couldn't work on anything smaller than 15") wouldn't come in any less than £400 or so here in the UK (of course deals are probably out there).

    As for fixing the unit, looking at the costs of even faulty 17 inch units, I don't think this is financially practical.
     
  12. macrumors 603

    justperry

    #12
    Fixed that for you.

    My Powerbook G4 15" 1.67 boots from USB, no problem.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #13
    Ah ok, brilliant, thanks!
     
  14. macrumors 6502a

    seveej

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #14
    Interesting.
    It is widely said, that Powerbooks do not support boot from USB, and I've never managed to do it (tested on 17" 1 Ghz Albook and 12" 1,5 Ghz).

    Do you know if there's a list somewhere of the hardware versions which allow it?

    RGDS

    P.S. I just had to google this, and although there are some hacks (involving open firmware to boot a usb dongle containing the installer, I also found some pages covering Boot disk selection at startup (using Alt), but could not find any comprehensive data on the specifics...
     
  15. macrumors 6502a

    ybz90

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #15
    Good points, though repairing the 17" logic board was my first suggestion and the OP did not seem inclined to want to do that.

    Also, booting from USB requires using Open Firmware (ala http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20101011105729488)
     
  16. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #16
    I appreciate the suggestion but repairing the logic board was never an option for me for the following reasons:

    1. Obtaining a new logic board is costly; second hand is obviously cheaper although still doesn't seem as economically attractive as getting a new machine;
    2. I would not be comfortable replacing the logic board myself & getting a local IT engineer to assist would add further cost
    3. I like the idea of replacing my 17" machine with a 15" machine for portability reasons
    4. The battery on my 17" laptop is all but dead and so a replacement machine with some battery life would be beneficial

    Other benefits of getting a new machine have been outlined above - I get another HDD and another boot drive (hopefully!).

    The cost of obtaining a new machine, taking into account selling on my 17" machine for spares is likely to be in the order of £50GBP. Could I get a replacement logic board; fit it; get a replacement battery and buy another 150GB HDD for this? That is not even taking into account the fact that I would actually prefer a 15" machine.

    g
     
  17. macrumors 6502a

    ybz90

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2009
    #17
    Just make sure you get a RevE if you can. It was the most powerful revision (1.67) and also had the 1440x960 display. Compared to some of the other revisions, it's considered to be one of the more robust and reliable ones too. In all likelihood, you'll have to get a new battery regardless but I've had great success with generic aftermarket ones for around $20. Also, if your budget allows, I strongly recommend maximizing the RAM to 2GB.

    What are the specs of your current 17"? If you're after a second drive, then you're right, getting the 15" is probably the best option. I did a quick search online, by no means thorough, but I didn't see any reasonably priced PATA drives at all... I'm not sure they're in production anymore based on the outrageous prices including for WD drives in 2.5" form factor.
     
  18. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #18
    My 17" is (was :( ) 1.67, 2GB with a 110GB HDD. The 15" (which I have now bought :) ) is 1.67, 2GB with a 150GB HDD. It comes with 2 batteries, one of which is practically new apparently.

    Thanks everyone for your input. I will let you know how I get on trying to boot from USB. If that fails I will simply put my old HDD in the machine for now anyway which I assume will just run as before, is that right?

    g
     
  19. macrumors 65816

    rabidz7

    #19
    This is not true at all. It can easily boot from usb.
    http://hints.macworld.com/article.php?story=20060301112336384

    ----------

    To boot from usb follow my method below.
     
  20. macrumors 6502a

    seveej

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2009
    Location:
    Helsinki, Finland
    #20
    Well...
    As the hint you yourself linked points out:
    and
    Also, if you read through the comments to the hint, it seems that many have had trouble with the approach.
    So in any case, it does not seem a surefire thing that any powerbook can boot from USB2.

    Furthermore, considering the nature of that hint, I would not have selected the word "easily".

    So I'd reiterate my original point, that "The PowerBook allows booting from internal drives (HDD, DVD) and FireWire drives". Further we can extend this premise by "Some Powerbooks may also manage to be booted from USB-drives, but in some case it involves hacks and may not always work."

    RGDS,
     
  21. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #21
    rabidz7:

    Thanks for the link.

    seveej:

    I agree, the firewire route would be the preferable route to go down.

    Now, onto my next question:

    My new Powerbook has arrived and is in great condition, really happy with it. It comes with 10.3.9 installed which is unfortunately not much use to me. I have decided to retain the internal HDD on this machine and clone my old internal HDD (which has 10.5.8 installed and all my existing applications and data) using Carbon Copy (the storage size on the new drive is bigger) and retain the old HDD as a back up in case of HDD problems in the future. I have not had a chance yet to try booting from my old drive over USB (I am waiting on some tools to arrive before I can put it in an enclosure) but assuming for now that I cannot boot using USB, my question is this:

    I have an existing third (FireWire) HDD I use for storeage. Is it possible to create a disk image of my old internal HDD, saving this to my FireWire drive, and then boot using this drive? I don't want to wipe the existing data on the FireWire drive, but it can be assumed there is sufficient space available to store the .DMG file.

    Thanks all for your input thus far.

    g
     
  22. macrumors 603

    justperry

    #22
    No, you can not boot of a disk Image, only from a real Volume, so if there were two partitions and had a CCC on the partition you could, not an Image.
     
  23. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #23
    That's great, thanks. If USB doesn't work I will install my old drive in the laptop and carbon copy that way. Was hoping to avoid that. :rolleyes:
     
  24. macrumors 68040

    666sheep

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2009
    Location:
    Poland
    #24
    Get 10.4 Retail DVD image, burn it with Disk Utility, boot PB off of it with FW drive connected, restore .dmg of your old HDD from FW drive to new PB and you're done.
     
  25. ghostly606, Jan 15, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2013

    thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2013
    #25
    Thanks, if I can't boot from the USB directly I'll give that a shot although I don't have a 10.4 DVD image, I have a 10.5 retail DVD but it appears to be damaged (i.e. won't install).

    Edit - I have OS 9 and 10.3 install discs that work fine, so the drive seems ok, the disk is the problem (I hope).
     

Share This Page