OS 9 Question Mark Icon

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Yevri, Nov 28, 2005.

  1. Yevri macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    Hi All,

    I have a G4 OS 9 with two monitors and external FireWire HD hooked up. It won't boot up - instead I get the question mark icon. From what I've read on the web, I need to get my OS 9 CD to boot up and then bless my system folder. Problem is, I can't find my OS 9 CD (it's been a very long time and a move to a new house since I've needed it).

    What options do I have?

    Note: I also have a G5 running Panther 10.3 and an iBook G4 running Panther 10.3 (as well as a Power Mac 7100/66 running OS 8.x). All machines (except 7100) are on my network and are have Firewire.

    More detail:
    Two things happened differently this week: 1. I moved my machine to a school to record a children's choir, but returned home and it worked fine, and 2. I allowed my son to install and play this Backyard Football game from CD-ROM - and the machine crashed with that game playing. I also noticed that the game, which was left in the CD-ROM drive once on boot up, actually launched during boot up, before the desktop came up.
  2. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    there could be a few different things going on, all of whcih require an OS CD to boot from. There's no other option.

    The first thing to do is get a CD. After that, boot from it and run disk first aid. if this machine used to work and now doesn't, you could have a corrupted directory, which will show up on disk first aid as an error it can't fix. in that case you'd have to reformat, or use diskwarrior if you didn't want to lose any data.

    If that's not the case (but it probably is if the machine worked fine before, system folders don't often just get unblessed), then you can just rebless or reinstall OS 9 through a clean install.

    Getting an OS 9 CD shouldn't be too difficult if you look around. Probably find them fairly cheap. jsut make sure you get a retail CD, and not a Cd that came with a different machine. those won't work.

    edit, it just occured to me that you could try using the machien is firewire disk target mode with another of your machines and using disk first aid on it then. If you can do that, it might give you some insight into the problem.
  3. strider42 macrumors 65816


    Feb 1, 2002
    One last thing is to simply let it sit there for a moment. The ? can mean its just looking for the system folder. Give it 10 minutes and it might find it. If it does, then you can just select teh drive again in the startup disk control panel.
  4. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    Thanks for the help. I've let this sit for almost an hour and it never moves on from the blinking ? icon. So I htink I need to do something.

    I will try the firewire first. I wasn't sure that would work since my other machine is OS X. When you say that I can't use a CD from another OS 9 machine, does that mean I can't use one of their factory CDs or just don't try to use one that is copied from their machine?
  5. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    I've had this problem on my G3 tower when the system can't determine which drive it is supposed to boot from.

    Without a HD controller card this was an issue with some OS9 machines.

    In my case it was getting confused between my 120 GB IDE Drive and my original 8.5 SCSI.

    The only way I could solve the problem was by disconnecting the SCSI cable from the SCSI HD
    and actually pulling the SCSI PCI card.

    Try starting up without the external firewire drive connected.

    You need to get to the point where you can RE-select your startup disc.

    Then when doing so, rather than hitting restart
    Lock the selected boot volume and shut down.
    Then start back up and cross your fingers.

    Just one other thought, When was the last time you replaced your PRAM battery.
    The small purple one on your motherboard?
  6. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    I've never replaced the PRAM battery. Tried zapping PRAM today. No luck there. I also tried starting it up without the external Firewire drive, but still the same.
  7. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    I have never worked with an external drive so I'm not sure if you could try
    the reverse using your panther CD to boot from the F/W drive.

    Even if you have to disconnect the internal drive cable to make it work.

    If you can get it to boot from the external, then you're part way there.

    What I had to do was boot from the IDE. get everything up again,then selected the OS9 volume lock and shut down

    THEN connect the other internal drive before staring back up.

    This also required massive quantities of coffee and Tylenol

    I feel your pain totally.
  8. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    It's one of the problems with the Open-Firmware machines and fragging the boot volume.

    Since part of the boot process is immediately picked up off the selected boot volume, before moving onto a CD or something else -- it sucks up bad data and immediately stalls.

    What you did was one way around it.

    Sometimes when the battery is dead (or by pulling it) unplugging the machine hitting that logic board reset buttun, and then immediately booting from the CD works without yanking the drive. Sometimes... it's easier to just unplug the bad drive on the powermac and select a new boot volume manually.
  9. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    Thanks for the help, guys.

    I failed to mention that i's a 20 GB internal that is partitioned. I now have it mounted on my G5 via firewire and I can see each partition.

    Now what do I do?
  10. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    If you can get your system up on the F/W drive at all, then you may want to select the F/W drive as your boot volume, then lock and shut down.
    Once you start back up from the firewire drive, then your OS9
    volume may not be showing on your desktop.

    FINE. lock the startup disk to your firewire drive again and shut down
    then reconnect the cable to your internal drive and see if you get the system back up with the internal drive showing again.

    Sorry for the confusion.

    THe benefit of the OS9 CD is that it included a startup disc utility
    to help you get back op and running.

    You DO NOT want to repair your OS9 volume with the Panther disk utility CD,
    that would totally fragment the OS9 volume.

    Best of luck!
  11. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    IF you can select the OS X volume as your startup disc lock it and try starting back up.

    What we're trying to do is to make sure that your system knows which drive to boot from.

    THat's why we need to get to where you can select your boot volume.

    If you have your internal partitoned to OSX and OS9 but you do not
    have the OS9 CD, then you have to try starting up on your OSX volume.

    It's hard doing this without seeing what's going on there, but hopefully
    we can get some progress.
  12. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    I never got the firewire drive up - just my OS 9 HD mounted onto my OSX G5 desktop via firewire. I can see the partitions, all my data and apps, the system folder, etc. In addition, on one of my partitions, I have a backup of the system folder (a pretty old backup). I also have Disk Warrior on that machine. Could that help? Should I copy those files over to OSX machine and burn a CD, then try to boot up with the Disk Warrior CD? Can I do that with the System FOlder on a CD? Probably not.
  13. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    I think you posted while i was typing my reply. I don't have an OSX volume on my G4 machine, just OS 9. So what other ways can I use to get my system to know which drive volume to boot from?

    I currently don't have the external HD on there either. Should I unmount these volumes from my G5 and hook the external HD to the G4 and copy something to it so I can boot up on the external?
  14. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    If all else fails, at least you can retrieve your data and save it to your G5.

    If your G4 is strickly OS9, you may still have to find an OS 9 CD
    to completely repair the volume.

    I hope this hasn't worsened your situation.

    Unfortunatley, my kids are screaming that they need online to do their homework so I have to scoot for now.

    I'll be back later and hope that you've made some progress.

    xing fingers
  15. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    My kids are really being pests argggh!

    YES no matter what back up as much data as you can.

    If your volumes are fully mounted that means the HD is probably O.K

    We just want your G4 to know which volume it needs to boot from.

    We don't want to confuse your G5 in the process.

    I feel terrible having to leave at this moment but I'm getting blasted from
    the peanut gallery because they have projects to work on and all we have is one dialup connection.

    I'll be back later tonight and wish you the best
  16. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Just drag the Finder or System apps out of the System Folder on that your volume, you may also want to drag the MacOSROM file out while you got it hooked to the G5.

    You may want to add a few letters to it aka "xxMacOSROM" "xFinder" to make sure that the computer doesn't even look at that boot volume until you fix it.

    If you got a backup volume one one of the partitions, good chance that the machine will boot from that if it cannot find anything else.
  17. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    No problem, I had to go get the kids in bed too. I appreciate the help from you guys.

    On my G4 OS9 machine (that won't boot up), I have a partition with a backup of the system folder (it hasn't found that any of the times I tried to boot). So am I essentially remming out the finder and Mac OS ROM on my HD partition hoping that it'll find the backup system folder on the other partition of the G4 HD?

    I have two apps on the G4 that might be helpful. Tech Tool Pro and Disk Warrior. I just burned CDs of them and tried to boot with them but with no luck.

    What next? Once it boots up with something, what do I do?
  18. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    I just finally got my oldest off line.

    Assuming you have copied everything critical and have that all reasonably

    Click open your normal OS9 boot volume on your G4

    go to : OS9 System Folder/Control Panels/Startup Disk

    You may get an error message saying that you can not
    access the OS 9 startup disk while using OSX, if so
    then open your system prefs/ startup disk and hope that
    your OS 9 boot volume shows in the menu.

    Select it and lock it.

    This next step is totally a trial thing.

    Shut down the G4 leaving the G5 up

    Disconnect the G5 from the G4 ethernet
    and reset the G5's startup disk back to the G5's normal boot volume
    and lock it just to be sure.

    Try starting the G4 again with nothing else connected.

    If this doesn't work you'll need an OS 9 CD
    or someone smarter than me that knows how
    to start-up the OS9 Boot volume by script.
  19. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    You should be able to find and run those System Folders on the G5 using Classic -- if it is a 9.1 - 9.2.x system, or something like that.

    You should also be able to rebless a OS 9 folder under OS X -- if it shows a normal folder icon..

    Usually drag out the System/Finder apps and drop them on the Desktop, then move them back into the folder, and the icon should change on the folder.

    What you were trying to do with dragging System/Finder/MacOSROM files out of the normal boot folder and rename them was debless that folder and force the machine to seek an alternate blessed system folder.

    You might play around with the drive on the G5 and see if you can boot that drive under classic.

    If it boots under classic, it probably should boot the G4 -- it just adds a couple extra classic support files. Change the names back and drop them back in the folder.

    Edit: of course there could be a problem DW needs to fix, that is causing all the problems.
  20. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    I've tried a few things. One was to run Tech Tool Pro from my G5 OS X machine in classic mode, checking the HD of the G4 OS 9 machine. It found and corrected a bunch of files, but I still couldn't boot up after that.

    I have copied my backup system folder from my G4 HD partition to my external Firewire HD, remmed out all other system folders, finders, etc. and tried booting that way. No luck.

    Then I tried using the backup System Folder on my partition without the external HD connected, but nothing.

    Then I copied the backup System Folder to the partition where the System Folder resides. No luck.

    I guess I will get an OS 9 CD somewhere tomorrow and try that.
  21. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    Thanks for getting back to me, guys.

    I locked the startup disk, but that didn't help.

    How do I "boot the drive under classic" - what do I click on to do that?

    Also, the folders and files already show the correct icons, but I took them to the desktop and back again anyway. Then I unmounted the G4 volumes and restarted the G4 and that didn't help.
  22. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    It's nearly 2am here and I need to get up by 5:30, so I guess I'm giving up for the night. Thanks for the help.
  23. paxtonandrew macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2004
    I Come From A Land Down Under
    It has been a while since I posted here, however I think I may have a solution.

    When you see the Questionmark icon, press and hold C, as if you are starting up from a C.D, and this forces the computer to find the Hard Drive, and therefore the OS. This may be the solution you are looking for.

  24. FFTT macrumors 68030


    Apr 17, 2004
    A Stoned Throw From Ground Zero
    I don't think you would be booting under classic mode from the G5
    because you were trying to boot an actual OS 9 volume on the G4.

    If you have OS 9 installed on your G5 then you could start the G5
    in classic and THEN attempt to work on the G4's startup disk.

    If you have absolutely essential OS 9 Applications you must use, then
    you probably should have a Bootable OS 9 CD anyway.

    If you can live witout those applications or run them in classic, then
    you could just wipe the G4's drive and bring it up to date as much as possible.

    After using OS X since it came out, I barely do anything on my G3 in OS 9 anymore. I run Jaguar 10.2.8 and leave it there.

    Once in a while I drag out Star Wars Racer and that's about it.

    Don't forget to pick up a new battery.

    Rest well we've all been there.
  25. Yevri thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2005
    I tried holding down the C key on boot up with no CD in the drive, but no luck.

    I have one application that I need to use in OS 9 on that machine - Pro Tools. I have an older Pro Tools card that works with the Digi 001 - can't run in OSX. THat's the only reason I haven't installed OSX and been done with it.

    I'm recording a children's choir this afternoon, so the timing is really bad. I've considered upgrading to a newer Pro Tools system, but the $1200 price tag and having to install and learn the new interface, etc. before this afternoon made me try to fix this problem. Had I known I'd spend all last night on it, I may have gone that route!

    I'll get the OS 9 CD today and try that.

    2 things:

    1. Where do I buy a battery for my PRAM?
    2. Is there a place online where I could just download the OS 9 CD files and burn them to CD (instead of having to drive across town to try to get it from a friend of mine)?

    Thanks again for your advice.

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