iMac G3 333 external hard drive boot question

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by TonyTiger66, May 4, 2017.

  1. TonyTiger66 macrumors newbie


    May 4, 2017
    Canberra, Australia
    I have an iMac G3, 333mhz. It has never been upgraded; it still has just 32mb RAM and a 6GB hard drive.
    It was running OS 8.6.
    It basically gets used as a word processor and music player (Cd only).

    We are very fond of it, but the hard drive has gone down.

    We have other macs (lots!) but I'm scratching my head a bit with this one as I'm a bit useless with non FireWire machines.

    It will boot from the original OS 8.6 install CD. The hard drive makes horrific squealing noises and does not show up at all in disk utility (dead as a dodo after nearly 20 years I would think).

    I have read that I could start this from an external hard drive via USB.

    It seems that neither this, nor for example, my 2003 PPC 17" PowerBook like the any of the external USB 2.5" drives I have.

    These are: two Seagate SATA 2.5", two generic caddies, one with a 160GB Hitachi SATA, one with a 500GB Hitachi SATA.

    I may be overthinking this, but before I go too far:

    Will these machines actually boot from an external HDD? I have done a search here on the forum, and wider internet, but I can't figure out how to stop all the search results being in regard to USB drives/memory sticks. I need info on actual mechanical external hard drives.

    If they can boot, I expect it would be very slow as these are USB 1.1?

    Do I need a USB 1.1 external HD or HD caddy with a drive in? Are my external drives perhaps not working because they're USB 2?

    Would the external drive need to be ATA/IDE (like the original internal one)?

    Is this why my external 2.5" SATA drives aren't working/being seen.

    Any replies or pointers to an existing thread that helps here would be really appreciated.

    I'm new to the forum and, following a long illness (13 years), not as sharp as I could be in terms of searching or explaining.

    I apologise if I have posted in the wrong place.

    Best regards from Canberra, Australia
  2. keysofanxiety macrumors G3


    Nov 23, 2011
    No PPC model can boot into external drives. Certainly my 1.67GHz 2005 PowerBook couldn't.

    As such I think your only recourse is replacing the drive inside your iMac and reinstalling the OS from CD. Legacy Mac OSs can be sourced here:
  3. QSDP-User macrumors regular


    Jan 13, 2015
    California, USA
    68kmla website has this post
    "I actually figured out how to boot iMac G3 from usb flash disk"

    You mention "Disk Utility" in Mac 8.6. Don't you mean "Drive Setup" (no big deal...just label names).

    However, whatever the named disk troubleshooter that is used, it seems like your iMac's HDD is bad.
    Maybe Disk Warrior could fix it if a bad directory was the problem,
    but then again, we're talking a very old original HDD.
    Unfortunately, I'm thinking: bad hard drive replacement.
    Google for HDD replacement instructions for your iMac model.

    I've got a Bondi RevB. I replaced the HDD with a compact Flash drive (IDE to CF adapter).
    Of course there's a caveat for Virtual Memory in OSX (constant re-writing), but I don't really care about that.
  4. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    That is incorrect.

    It is possible to do, but on many PowerPC Macs it requires an Open Firmware command to do it. I've booted my G4 Quicksilver off a USB stick several times and my 17" G4 PowerBooks off USB drives.

    Hell, I even booted my PB off a MicroSD card in a WinMo phone connected to the laptop via USB cable once.

    But as far as being able to select the drive and boot from it in the ordinary ways - then yes, you're right on that.
  5. LightBulbFun macrumors 68000


    Nov 17, 2013
    London UK
    General rule of thumb for PPC macs...

    anything Uninorth can be booted from USB

    OS9 bootable Uninorth Macs can be booted from USB by simply holding down option at boot and selecting the drive

    Macs which are not OS9 native/aka all USB2 macs can only be booted from USB via open firmware commands

    All Uninorth Macs with FireWire can be booted from a FireWire drive by simply holding down option at boot and selecting the drive

    the only PowerPC macs which cannot boot from USB are the PowerMac G3 BW PowerMac G4 Yikes, the PowerBook G3 Lombard and the Tray loading iMacs, these Macs are not Uninorth and do recognise USB mass storage devices properly in open firmware
  6. Cox Orange, May 5, 2017
    Last edited: May 6, 2017

    Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    I am curious, if Mac OS 8 had something like "First Aid" which was included in OS 9. But I don't even remember, if First Aid was able to repair directories like OS X's disk utility can.
    The fact that he says the HDD makes a horrific squealing noise underlines your guess.

    If he had OS X on it, you could see, if Volitan SMART utility finds statistic proof of the death of your HDD, but I guess you have enough symptoms for that.
    Did you already check, if the HDD cable is loose?

    As far as replacements go, as QSDP-USer said, you don't need an IDE drive. An adapter plus a SATA HDD (you might want to look for both 3,5" and 2,5". 2,5" will be running cooler and sometimes quieter) or SATA/mSATA/...-SSD will do. Be aware, that only 128GB will be recognized no matter how big the drive is.

    Edit: and don't buy IDE drives from 2002 that are advertised as "new" for the price of a 5 times bigger used IDE drive from 2011.
    For the benefit of Keysofanxiety, to name one way, that would mean starting up system preferences, choosing the section "boot Volume", waiting a bit and then selecting the preferred drive's icon, locking the doorlock at the bottom before reboot, will assure the Mac will keep this selection every next time until you change the selection again. If not, the selection will be forgotten with the second reboot. I also guess booting off from Firewire drives here is the most famous one besides dual boot from an internal disk.
    --- Post Merged, May 5, 2017 ---
    That's pretty cool!
  7. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    DiskWarrior also runs in OS 9. At least versions prior to 5.0.

    That particular phone allowed the MicroSD card to be used as a drive. By that time, the phone was no longer my primary phone and so I didn't need to use the card I had for it. So, I turned it into an emergency boot device by formatting the SD card as APM and then used Carbon Copy Cloner to move over the smallest boot install I could (it was only an 8GB SD card).

    To test that it worked I used Open Firmware and it started booting. PAINFULLY SLOW though!

    I went out and took care of the weeds in the front yard at that point, which took an hour and a half or so. By the time I got back to the Mac I was at the login screen. :D
  8. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    PS: @TonyTiger66
    if you don't mind dumping serious cash ;) into the iMac you could also upgrade the RAM, while your at replacing the HDD, and (2x256MB are only supported unofficially in the 333MHz iMacs, there are people that say, it didn't work, so it might be hit and miss). Shipping to Australia adds 2,-EUR to the costs. [NOT MY LISTING]
    There is a listing from belgium for a 128MB PC66 so-dimm for 4,50EUR, but you would have to write him for a shipping quote.

    With more RAM you could install Mac OS X 10.3, though I don't know, if this really makes sense for your personal use.

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