Help with Powerbook G4

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by weezin, May 5, 2019.

  1. weezin macrumors regular

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    Jul 20, 2012
    #1
    Hey all,

    I picked up a 12" Powerbook G4 a short while ago and am having some issues. I knew that it wasn't "running" when I bought it, so this is on me.

    To start: when I boot it up, I get a blinking folder screen with no option to do anything.

    I've read that is usually because it cannot find an OS in the system. IMG_8045.jpeg

    For that, I bought a Leopard install disk and booted up with it.

    When I do that, the Apple logo comes up for a short while (you can hear the machine accessing the DVD) and then disappears to a blank page with a spinning beach ball in the upper left corner.I left it for about an hour and a half and it just sat there, accessing the DVD with the spinning beach ball. The trackpad doesn't seem to do anything, nor do any other keys.

    One other thing to note is that there isn't any ram installed, save for the 256mb that is on the board. I have a 1GB stick coming soon.

    Any idea what's up here?
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #2
    Which Leopard disk did you get? Does it have a gray background or a space background with a large X on it?

    If it's gray then that is a system-specific disk and your system may not be the one that disk is for.

    If it's the other (a retail copy) then your optical drive might be failing.

    Do you have another PowerPC Mac you can use or an Intel that can run Leopard? If so, you could try Target Disk Mode (TDM) and installing the OS from the second Mac.
     
  3. weezin thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 20, 2012
    #3
    I got the retail copy with the space background.

    I don't have another PowerPC Mac or another Intel Mac that can run Leopard unfortunately.

    I also tried downloading the image of Leopard and following instructions to boot from the USB drive via the Open source firmware, but I couldn't get that to work either.

    I have a feeling that this 12" might be a lost cause without a lot of work.
     
  4. Slix macrumors 65816

    Slix

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    Mar 24, 2010
    #4
    I tried to install 10.3 Panther on a clamshell iBook G3 with only the 64 MB of onboard RAM and it wouldn't get passed part of the installer either. I'd suggest getting the extra RAM and trying the install DVD again.
     
  5. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #5
    Possible.

    I have a 15" PowerBook in the garage that refuses to boot. Drive was replaced before it was given to me and it boots and installs OS X just fine from the optical drive. It's a very odd situation I devoted some time to but never solved.

    Over the years I've learned that PowerPC can still throw some curveballs.

    The 12" is really compact inside so unless you're willing to devote time to replacing an optical drive this may just continue to be a mystery.
     
  6. Raging Dufus macrumors regular

    Raging Dufus

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    #6
    Given the available info, this is probably the right answer. You need more RAM. Leopard should still install w/only 256MB, but it's going to take its sweet time getting there.

    As long as you can hear the DVD drive accessing the disc - i.e., it hasn't "given up" - then Leopard is probably just doing its thing. I've had Leopard installs that I figured were lost causes after a couple of hours of nonstop disc access with little onscreen to show for it...but if I left it alone, left it running all night, usually I'd wake up the next morning to a working Leopard install waiting for me. Come to think of it, I've only run into that situation with PowerBooks for some reason.

    Start it up again, leave it alone and let it do its thing. See how it looks tomorrow.
     
  7. weezin thread starter macrumors regular

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    #7
    Hmmmm, okay. I have a gig coming tomorrow, hopefully that helps!

    Yeah, that could be. I'm going to put a little more effort into it and then probably by done.

    Interesting, okay. I just put the disk back in and am going to let it do it's thing. A gig of Ram comes tomorrow so if it hasn't done anything by then, I'll stick that in and start over. Thanks!
     
  8. B S Magnet macrumors 6502

    B S Magnet

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    #8
    Probably a long shot (and one you already tried at the time): that short, HDD flat cable. Were you able to try with another cable (to no avail)? I don’t know how often those go faulty on Al PBs/iBooks, but having dealt with bad flat cables in other laptops, this was my first thought.

    If it isn’t the cable, I’m guessing it’s a faulty IDE pin on the logic board.
     
  9. ScreenSavers macrumors 6502

    ScreenSavers

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    #9
    Leopard with only 256 mb isn't gonna be nice. Or install fast... And for what it's worth, I've NEVER gotten a G4 Mac to boot off the USB with open firmware, no matter what I try.:)
     
  10. Project Alice, May 5, 2019
    Last edited: May 5, 2019

    Project Alice macrumors 6502a

    Project Alice

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    #10
    It could be the lack of ram. I accidentally started up a Sawtooth G4 that had only 128 or 192MB of ram installed to the Leopard partition of my external FW drive one time. I had wondered why it was taking so long to boot..and when it finally did I had known what I did once I saw the space wallpaper lol
    I would not say this PowerBook is a lost cause at all. Failed optical drive or not. Get an external Firewire drive and clone the DVD to it if you don't want to open up the mac.

    Or if you don't want to spend any trouble, sell it to me lol
    --- Post Merged, May 5, 2019 ---
    I have, but only with linux. I tried booting leopard off USB and it proceeded to go to the "no" symbol as if it was an unsupported mac
     
  11. weezin thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 20, 2012
    #11
    Thanks guys. I'll put the ram in tomorrow and see what happens.

    Interestingly, the keyboard was feeling a little wonky so I started to poke around. As it turns out, the screws holding it down on top under the F keys were missing. I also noticed, that according to the iFixit guide (https://www.ifixit.com/Guide/PowerBook+G4+Aluminum+12-Inch+1-1.5+GHz+Keyboard+Replacement/542), I'm missing the EMI finger that sits under the black screw. Hmmmm...

    EDIT: looks like there might not be an EMI finger in mine according to a forum post I found.
     
  12. amagichnich macrumors 6502

    amagichnich

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    Stuttgart, Germany
    #12
    Theory:
    May as well be a faulty hard drive. 256 MB of memory is definitely not enough, the installer tries to swap out to the hard drive. As there is none (he can work with) the installer just bumps more files into memory with no result.
    Sounds reasonable or total rubbish?
     
  13. YaBe macrumors 6502a

    YaBe

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  14. for this macrumors 6502

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    Nov 18, 2014
    #14
    When the internal HDD went kaput. I had to take it out and install a new one in unless it would not boot even from a DVD installer. Haven't tried booting from the DVD without any HDD though.
     
  15. weezin thread starter macrumors regular

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    #15
    You're probably right, unfortunately!

    Yeah, once I get the added ram, we'll see! Thanks.
     
  16. weezin thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    Well I got the 1gb ram stick today, put it in, and all is well! Leopard installed, no problem.

    Interestingly, there are files on the hard drive and an existing user (who's password I don't know).

    I'm going to see if I can do a fresh install of the OS next.

    Two other problems I've discovered:

    1. The trackpad doesn't seem to work. What could this be?
    2. The keyboard is missing its screws. Any idea what size they are or where I can find that out?

    Thanks!
     
  17. B S Magnet, May 7, 2019
    Last edited: May 7, 2019

    B S Magnet macrumors 6502

    B S Magnet

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    #17
    Hurrah on getting a successful boot!

    It’ll be hard to know definitively what’s up with the trackpad without disassembling the laptop and opening the top case, but it is apparent by missing screws that someone before you (possibly the previous owner) tried to open the case, possibly to take out the hard drive, then just gave up due to its complexity/their impatience.

    This could be due to a disconnected trackpad assembly flat cable which, because they’re already pretty delicate, could have been ripped by accident in the previous attempt to open the case. Hopefully it’s ok. If you do choose to take it apart, the 12" is a fairly challenging laptop to disassemble. You might want to wait until you have, say, a new SSD to put in there to make the disassembly worthwhile and to avoid having to take it apart a second time.

    Have you also determined that the trackpad’s button is also non-functional?
    --- Post Merged, May 7, 2019 ---
    Adding a little bit more:

    I don’t know offhand the screw size for the two corner screws which fasten the keyboard, but as memory serves they’re a common short screw type used on a mess of other ’Book products. I know that isn’t very helpful, but if you have other Mac spare parts lying around, you may be able to determine which kind it is.

    If the end connector for the trackpad assembly isn’t connected, you should be able to check this without a full disassembly. This portion of the PowerBook Medic tutorial addresses where that connector is in relation to the area just underneath the keyboard.
     
  18. weezin thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 20, 2012
    #18
    Yep! I'm happy its working.

    I just watched that Medic tutorial and I will give that connector a look tomorrow. I bet it is something like that (and hopefully not ripped).

    An SSD sure would be nice, but I'm surprised at how snappy this thing is! Not fast by any means, but quicker than I was expecting for sure.

    I'll see if I can figure out the screws. Really appreciate the help!
     
  19. YaBe macrumors 6502a

    YaBe

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    Oct 5, 2017
    #19
    Nice to see it up and running.

    Older computer are great because they never slow down.... as in My G5 has this speed and it will have it forever, so if it is good now it will be as long as it lives, contrary to newer HW wich feels faster as sopon as you get them butupdating to newer version will slow them down.

    Sure you get more functions and features, and those are the one slowing down, but apart from some internet pages, there's very little my G5 cannot do today :D.
     
  20. B S Magnet macrumors 6502

    B S Magnet

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    #20
    You'll be amazed by the difference an SSD makes when booting and when opening applications. Also, writing to it will be snappier overall. It’s nowadays an affordable way to bring new life to legacy hardware. :)
     
  21. B S Magnet macrumors 6502

    B S Magnet

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    #21
    It ain’t an energy miser, but I'm still glad I have the steady G5 at the ready for a whole mess of server and client tasks. :)
     
  22. YaBe macrumors 6502a

    YaBe

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    #22
    Well yes, power consumption is on the high side, but in line with most high end Pc nowadays, it impresses me what this G5 can do today, and as long as files are compatible (using mostly adobce and Office) I do not see the need to update.

    Not having a fully functional internet is a plsu as it limits distractions :D, plus there's that special feeling of having a PPC :D
     
  23. weezin thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 20, 2012
    #23
    Thanks guys! Yes, an SSD might be in its future, depending on how I decide to use it.

    The only bummer now is that the touchpad isn't working at all. Interestingly, it is also not showing up in System Preferences under "Mouse and Keyboard". I took the keyboard off and fiddled with the connector and it seems fine. The ribbon cable was certainly bent, but to my untrained eyes, nothing looked broken.

    Someone has definitely fiddled with taking this apart before as I noticed a few missing screws on the bottom case. I would really love to use this PB as a laptop with the touchpad, so I'm hoping I can find a (relatively easy) fix. Any ideas for next steps?

    [​IMG]
     
  24. pl1984 macrumors 68020

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    Oct 31, 2017
    #24
    My recommendation is to first perform a secure wipe of the hard drive before installing a new OS. That will ensure all previous data is wiped from the drive.
     
  25. weezin thread starter macrumors regular

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    Jul 20, 2012
    #25
    I actually did do that, I just didn't mention it!

    Still trying to figure out this trackpad issue.
     

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25 May 5, 2019