15" Powerbook won't boot

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by Jezza, Jun 5, 2006.

  1. Jezza macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2005
    I've had my Powerbook for two years (an old G4 865Hz).

    I run Panther on it 10 hours a day, 5 days a week. I have 1GB RAM and a 30GB HD, with 7GB of free space.

    I regularly defrag the disk with iDefrag.

    I run Dreamweaver, Flash, Safari, IE, Curator, and TextWrangler along with iCal, iPhoto and Address Book. Most of these apps startup at boot time.

    As of this afternoon, not any more; I got the beach ball icon. I had no option other than to do a hard shutdown (finger held down on the power button for 6 secs). Now that I think of it, I was bare-footed on our kitchen tiles the last time I touched the mouse prior to the beachball icon.

    The machine POSTs on startup - that is, it chimes merrily - then I get a black screen, then a flash/flicker, then the dreaded folder with a question mark.

    I have Applejack installed, but I can't access it as I cannot get into single user mode.

    I have reset the PRAM adfinitum.

    I have tried the Shift-Ctrl-Option-Power combo to no effect.

    I can boot from my emergency OS9 CD, but my Macintosh HD does not appear on the desktop; when I run Norton Utils from the CD, and instruct it to Show Missing Disk, nada. Nothing happens.

    I have an external 40GB Firewire drive with a system on it, but it refuses to become the startup disk even though I selected it to be just that via the Ctrl Panel on OS9 bootup disk.

    To make matters even more frustrating, I cannot find my original Mac OS X disks anywhere; a friend of mine will be lending me his Panther DVD tomorrow all being well.

    Is there a way to retrieve my files off the problematic internal HD?

    Anyone out there have any tips and tricks to coax the disk back into play?

    Much obliged,


  2. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    It doesn't sound good. I know someone else has suggested to try target mode to get stuff off of a breaking hd. You could try that.
  3. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Flashing ? mark, usually means a corrupted drive -- could be minor to major.

    Not showing the drive when you boot off the CD is a bit worse, if it doesn't respond to Disk Utility or show up in the System Profiler -- it could possibly be a dead drive.
  4. Jezza thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2005
    If the disk is unbootable is it completely dead or will I be able to pull data off it if I put it in an external case and attach it to a different Mac?
  5. Sun Baked macrumors G5

    Sun Baked

    May 19, 2002
    Even if the disk is corrupted and unbootable, you can usually see it with disk utility, system profiler, and a bunch of other programs -- even if it won't mount.

    Once the machine stops seeing it, chances of it being dead go way up.

    Won't matter if it is in the machine or an external case.


    Usually corrupted drives made it hard to even boot from the CD, these cases moving to an external case works -- because the corrupted drive halted the boot.

    Since you can boot the machine, and still fail to see the drive (try Disk Utility), likelyhood of dead drive is much higher -- and chances of sticking in an external case and working are lower.
  6. gekko513 macrumors 603


    Oct 16, 2003
    Most likely it'll be just as dead if you put it in an external case. If it isn't, it could suggest there's something wrong with the PowerBook itself (motherboard, cables, etc).

    If the hard disk is dead, it can be the electronics or mechanics of the disk or it can be the platters themselves that cause it. If it's the electronics or mechanics, it can work to actually buy a new identical hard disk and move the platters over from the old to the new. This isn't an easy procedure and the difficulty and success rate will vary between brands, I suppose, but a colleague of mine did it with a 3.5" drive. I forgot to ask him if it succeeded, though.
  7. Jezza thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2005
    A disk can go, just like that, without a warning, a hiccup or something?

    I neither suffered from abnormal noises nor horrendous goings on.

    I will say this though, the weather today hit 33 Celcius. I'm wondering if the heat had anything to do with all this.

    I can't believe I can't recoup my files from the disk, it was in perfect good nick until this afternoon.
  8. Jezza thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2005
    So when I tried booting my 'book this morning, up popped OS X Panther as if nothing had happened the day before.

    I attached my Firewire disk and made a backup...and everything went smoothly. I ran Main Menu to repair wonky permissions, rebooted, repaired the disk with AppleJack in single user mode, then booted in safe mode where I made OS 9 the startup system; I then used Norton to nuke the remaining bugs from the hard drive.

    An hour later I was back in Panther, working as usual, only this time I propped the laptop with a couple of books for added ventilation. I live in the Middle East where scorching weather is the norm for 6 months in the year; my 'book probably pooped when the mercury went beyond the endurance of Apple's factory barometer.

    Well, that's my story and I'm sticking with it!

    Thanks to one and all for your tips and theories,

    Jezza (very happily back on the 15" Powerbook) :)
  9. Jezza thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2005
    Darn it, my Powerbook won't boot again. Same as before. This time, however, I remembered to be aware of the last thing I did before the problem kicked in.

    I left the Powerbook alone for 20 minutes while I went to work in a different room. When I came back, the GUI was stuck, the cursor moved for a few seconds (whatever I clicked was useless of course, as the GUI was frozen) and then the whole system froze, mouse and all. I had no other option but to do a hard shutdown (a 6 sec hold on the Power button). When I tried rebooting I got - and still get - the maddenning folder/question-mark icon.

    And the titanium strip above the keyboard was mad hot. I can't boot off my firewire drive, I can't boot from my Norton SystemWorks disk, and I can't get any work done. I feel like booting the thing out of my life.

    When the thing has cooled down I'm going to:

    1. Remove the battery
    2. Set the Energy Saver to Reduced
    3. Backup
    4. Seriously think about returning to Mac OS 9

    Why does my Powerbook get too hot even though the temperature in the room is nice and cool?

    Has anyone on this forum experienced something similar?

    Thanks for your time,

  10. madagi macrumors member

    May 6, 2005
    Hanover, PA
    Me too...

    I'm having the exact same problem as you with a 12" G4 PowerBook I bought off eBay about a week ago. The thing is finicky. It will boot and work perfectly sometimes. Other times it starts up with the same screen you're describing. The solution (for me) thus far has been to just power off and back on until it eventually works.

    Here's what I've done (and none of it has helped):

    - Reset the PRAM. (multiple times)
    - Ran Disk Utility from both within the OS and from the rescue CD. Fixed permissions and verified the hard disk. (multiple times)
    - Formatted the hard drive and did a fresh install as well as all available updates from Software Update.
    - Bought a brand new battery, made sure it was fully charged and tried booting both with the AC adapter plugged in and also running soley on battery.
    - Made sure (once it booted) to select OS X as the primary startup disk.

    I'm thinking it's a faulty/failing hard drive. I'm gonna take it to Apple tomorrow and hope they can either confirm that or tell me what actually is wrong with it. I'm pissed. The original owner said nothing about this in the eBay listing and after e-mailing him he swears it's never had the problem while he had it.

    PS: I've been reading lots of threads over at the Apple discussion forums and it seems to me that a lot of people have this problem and there's never an actual solution in the threads. I know that doesn't help but you asked if anyone else has had this problem.
  11. Jezza thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 19, 2005
    Glad to hear it works for you; I'm still waiting for my Powerbook to boot.

    Been there, done that too. What a waste of time.

    I think you are right on the mark there, though why the disk is faulty beats me (I've got older equipment - a Thinkpad and Desktop PC - whose hardware just keeps on working). I also think that the problem is Mac OS X related (or maybe just Panther specific); the machine gets way too hot. Less so when running Classic OS 9.

    Good luck! I'm interested to hear what they come up with.

    I bet you are. Damned right too. This is not what we expected from our Apple Powerbooks.

    Thanks for posting a reply,


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