iMac G5 (late 2005) not starting up (shows an old folder screen)

andrews.matthias

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Original poster
Aug 10, 2017
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I managed to get a free 20” Intel iMac (one of the early white ones, so it must have come out in 2006) because the owner had a problem with it he couldn’t fix and just gave it to me. (The only reason I think it’s an Intel is because it’s thinner than the G5 version)

It turns out the problem was that upon pressing the power button, and hearing the chime, it shows an old, 90s-era folder with a alternating flashing Finder logo and question mark (see second and third photos).

By holding down the eject key while booting up I found it had a Snow Leopard Install DVD in it. Unfortunately, when I boot up the iMac while holding “c”, nothing happens.

Booting up while holding the “option” key (with the DVD inside) just brings me to this weird screen with the fans running at full throttle (see picture 4). I can’t even move the mouse at this point. (I think it’s weird why these buttons look really old... is this normal to Snow Leopard?)

I have been unable to start up in either Recovery mode or Verbose mode, but Target Disk Mode works fine. Starting up while holding “d” or “c” doesn’t change anything. (It just goes to the alternating flashing folder screen). And starting while holding “eject” does eject the DVD.

Also, if it’s been running for more than about five to ten minutes (on the folder screen), the fans turn on at maximum and won’t quieten down.

I just don’t understand what’s wrong with it! Is there anything I can try? I would really like to be able to use this machine... :/

Any and all help would be appreciated, even if just a suggestion to try something out that I haven’t done yet.
 

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OLDCODGER

macrumors 6502a
Jul 27, 2011
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First off, the flashing ? inside a folder means that you have no valid OS installed.

Second, check that the Snow Leopard DVD is the Upgrade version ($20) - not one specific to a machine other than yours.

Third, since the DVD won't even mount, it sounds as if your Superdrive is kaput - a common problem with that item. If this is the case, and you have the correct SL DVD, burn that to a flash drive and install.
 

andrews.matthias

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 10, 2017
6
0
Switzerland
First off, the flashing ? inside a folder means that you have no valid OS installed.

Second, check that the Snow Leopard DVD is the Upgrade version ($20) - not one specific to a machine other than yours.

Third, since the DVD won't even mount, it sounds as if your Superdrive is kaput - a common problem with that item. If this is the case, and you have the correct SL DVD, burn that to a flash drive and install.
The install DVD is the original one that came with the iMac. I have burned the disk to a USB stick and held down the "option" key while starting up the iMac, but I get the same screen as before (the picture with the two buttons and an unmovable mouse cursor).

I don't understand why it doesn't seem to see the DVD or the USB stick...
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
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Your USB is not created correctly (and is not bootable), or it's not showing as a bootable device because the internal hard drive has failed.
A failed hard drive can sometimes block or prevent ANY boot from any device.
You could open the case, disconnect the internal hard drive (or simply replace with a good drive), and try booting again from an external drive or bootable installer.

No white iMac shipped with Snow Leopard, so a Snow Leopard DVD would not be the original disk shipping with a white iMac.

But - your may simply have a G5, and not an intel iMac at all.
You should find a serial number label on the bottom of the stand - that will show the original configuration of your iMac.
There is no discernible difference in the thickness of an early Intel iMac. You can't really tell by the case. The white Intel, and G5 (iSight) iMacs look exactly alike.
 
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OLDCODGER

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The install DVD is the original one that came with the iMac. I have burned the disk to a USB stick and held down the "option" key while starting up the iMac, but I get the same screen as before (the picture with the two buttons and an unmovable mouse cursor).

I don't understand why it doesn't seem to see the DVD or the USB stick...

If your Mac is 2006, it came with Tiger (10.4). Check that the SL DVD is the Genuine Upgrade version, sold through the app store for $20. No other version of SL will work.
 

andrews.matthias

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 10, 2017
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Switzerland
Your USB is not created correctly (and is not bootable), or it's not showing as a bootable device because the internal hard drive has failed.
A failed hard drive can sometimes block or prevent ANY boot from any device.
You could open the case, disconnect the internal hard drive (or simply replace with a good drive), and try booting again from an external drive or bootable installer.

No white iMac shipped with Snow Leopard, so a Snow Leopard DVD would not be the original disk shipping with a white iMac.

But - your may simply have a G5, and not an intel iMac at all.
You should find a serial number label on the bottom of the stand - that will show the original configuration of your iMac.
I know it's an Intel iMac, because I have the last G5 released, and it is quite a bit thicker and the ports are in a different position.

That's true. I guess the SL DVD must not have been the original disk with it - but when I received it, it was already in the drive, so it must have been upgraded to SL at some point.

This is all quite confusing, I suppose I will have to check the hard drive.
[doublepost=1502382455][/doublepost]
If your Mac is 2006, it came with Tiger (10.4). Check that the SL DVD is the Genuine Upgrade version, sold through the app store for $20. No other version of SL will work.
How can I check that? I think it must be, because it looks official, and it was the only Mac the previous owner had.
 

ApfelKuchen

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I guess the SL DVD must not have been the original disk with it - but when I received it, it was already in the drive, so it must have been upgraded to SL at some point.
Be careful of what assumptions you make. It's also possible that the previous owner tried to use a SL disk to boot, even though the Mac hadn't been upgraded to SL. (SL disks can still be purchased from Apple, Tiger disks cannot.)

At first you said this was the original DVD that came with the machine, which turned out to be an assumption. The 2006 iMacs never came with SL.

You seem resistant to locating the serial number and learning with full certainty which iMac model it is. Again, depending upon assumptions is not as reliable as factual knowledge. In this case, it could mean the difference between an early 2006 that runs a maximum of 10.6.8, and a late 2006 that runs a maximum of 10.7.5. Or maybe even learning that it is a G5, even though it looks different than yours.

You have to be careful about what assumptions you make, they often affect the path you take through troubleshooting.
 

DeltaMac

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I'm fairly sure that the ports on the back of an early Intel are the same ports on the back of the iSight G5 iMacs.
(The iSight is the only model with the camera on the front bezel, and the configuration of the inside parts and the ports are quite different from the earlier G5 iMacs. Your iMac has an iSight camera, and is the only reason I mentioned that it still could be a G5 iSight model, if you judge only on appearance.
 

ApfelKuchen

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I'm fairly sure that the ports on the back of an early Intel are the same ports on the back of the iSight G5 iMacs.
(The iSight is the only model with the camera on the front bezel, and the configuration of the inside parts and the ports are quite different from the earlier G5 iMacs. Your iMac has an iSight camera, and is the only reason I mentioned that it still could be a G5 iSight model, if you judge only on appearance.
According to MacTracker, the PowerPC iMacs (including the iSight G5) had a mini-VGA port, the 2006 Intels had a Mini-DVI.
 

andrews.matthias

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 10, 2017
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0
Switzerland
Be careful of what assumptions you make. It's also possible that the previous owner tried to use a SL disk to boot, even though the Mac hadn't been upgraded to SL. (SL disks can still be purchased from Apple, Tiger disks cannot.)

At first you said this was the original DVD that came with the machine, which turned out to be an assumption. The 2006 iMacs never came with SL.

You seem resistant to locating the serial number and learning with full certainty which iMac model it is. Again, depending upon assumptions is not as reliable as factual knowledge. In this case, it could mean the difference between an early 2006 that runs a maximum of 10.6.8, and a late 2006 that runs a maximum of 10.7.5. Or maybe even learning that it is a G5, even though it looks different than yours.

You have to be careful about what assumptions you make, they often affect the path you take through troubleshooting.
I agree it is important not to make assumptions - but the main reason I think it is an Intel iMac is because it is thinner than my G5 by quite a significant amount.

I am not reluctant to locate the serial number and thus find out which model it is! I just wasn’t at home: in about an hour I’ll be able to send it.
[doublepost=1502390835][/doublepost]
Be careful of what assumptions you make. It's also possible that the previous owner tried to use a SL disk to boot, even though the Mac hadn't been upgraded to SL. (SL disks can still be purchased from Apple, Tiger disks cannot.)

At first you said this was the original DVD that came with the machine, which turned out to be an assumption. The 2006 iMacs never came with SL.

You seem resistant to locating the serial number and learning with full certainty which iMac model it is. Again, depending upon assumptions is not as reliable as factual knowledge. In this case, it could mean the difference between an early 2006 that runs a maximum of 10.6.8, and a late 2006 that runs a maximum of 10.7.5. Or maybe even learning that it is a G5, even though it looks different than yours.

You have to be careful about what assumptions you make, they often affect the path you take through troubleshooting.
I am now back with the iMac. I was able to verify that it does not have a mini VGA port, so it can’t be a G5. I don’t know how to find the serial number but I am looking for it.
 

ApfelKuchen

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I agree it is important not to make assumptions - but the main reason I think it is an Intel iMac is because it is thinner than my G5 by quite a significant amount.

I am not reluctant to locate the serial number and thus find out which model it is! I just wasn’t at home: in about an hour I’ll be able to send it.
[doublepost=1502390835][/doublepost]

I am now back with the iMac. I was able to verify that it does not have a mini VGA port, so it can’t be a G5. I don’t know how to find the serial number but I am looking for it.
Look on the underside of the base (the part that normally touches the tabletop). Can't be sure it was there in 2006, but it has been there since at least early 2008 (the oldest iMac I have access to).
 

andrews.matthias

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Original poster
Aug 10, 2017
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The serial number is not on the outside of the iMac anywhere, and the previous owner did not give me the packaging, so I don’t think I’ll be able to find it.

However, due to the ports and the thinness, I believe it is a 2006 Intel iMac
Look on the underside of the base (the part that normally touches the tabletop). Can't be sure it was there in 2006, but it has been there since at least early 2008 (the oldest iMac I have access to).
Well what do you know!
It was on the underside of the stand - I didn’t think to look there.

You were completely right - it does say iMac G5. I was wrong!

I made the false assumption because it was thinner than my other G5, and I mistakenly presumed Apple had thinnend (is that a word?) the “new” Intel iMac, instead of a later model. Also, it had the SL DVD inside it.

This is rather unfortunate - I now have a useless Snow Leopard DVD (that the owner for some very weird reason bought and left in the iMac) and a broken iMac G5, with seemingly no way to fix it...

This is my first thread on macrumors, what should I do about this thread now?
[doublepost=1502391815][/doublepost]
According to MacTracker, the PowerPC iMacs (including the iSight G5) had a mini-VGA port, the 2006 Intels had a Mini-DVI.
I had mistakenly assumed the mini-VGA was a mini-DVI, as I have never actually used either of them before. That was an embarrassing mistake on my part :/
[doublepost=1502391927][/doublepost]I just thought of something - the look of the folder seems quite Mac OS 8/9-ey, is it at all possible that the iMac doesn’t even have Mac OS X on it?
[doublepost=1502392208][/doublepost]PS i renamed the title of the post to accurately reflect which Mac it is. (Got the year off Wikipedia). That was quite embarrassing- I thought I was better at identifying Mac models
 

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ApfelKuchen

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This is my first thread on macrumors, what should I do about this thread now?
Don't worry about it. There are all sorts of things people learn by reading forum posts - troubleshooting tips, specific capabilities of particular models, etc. Other people may have similar questions to yours.

If you're worried about embarrassment... we all embarrass ourselves from time to time. One of the reasons I'm a stickler for facts vs. assumptions is that I've been burned by my own assumptions over the years. As I get older I'm far more likely to reconfirm my recollections of "facts" by revisiting documentation (like Mactracker and manufacturer kbases).
 

andrews.matthias

macrumors newbie
Original poster
Aug 10, 2017
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Switzerland
Don't worry about it. There are all sorts of things people learn by reading forum posts - troubleshooting tips, specific capabilities of particular models, etc. Other people may have similar questions to yours.

If you're worried about embarrassment... we all embarrass ourselves from time to time. One of the reasons I'm a stickler for facts vs. assumptions is that I've been burned by my own assumptions over the years. As I get older I'm far more likely to reconfirm my recollections of "facts" by revisiting documentation (like Mactracker and manufacturer kbases).
Thanks anyway for your patience.
With regards to this thread, should I leave it up or create a new one with the details more accurately reflecting the current situation?

It would be a shame if this late 2005 iMac G5 were to stay unusable, as it was the last PowerPC desktop to be made by Apple, and could serve as an interesting test of the PowerPC’s abilities if I got it up and running again.

My other iMac G5 was the first model to be released, so it would also be interesting to compare the first and last versions of what was once the fastest all-in-one of all time.
 

ApfelKuchen

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2012
3,496
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Between the coasts
Thanks anyway for your patience.
With regards to this thread, should I leave it up or create a new one with the details more accurately reflecting the current situation?

It would be a shame if this late 2005 iMac G5 were to stay unusable, as it was the last PowerPC desktop to be made by Apple, and could serve as an interesting test of the PowerPC’s abilities if I got it up and running again.

My other iMac G5 was the first model to be released, so it would also be interesting to compare the first and last versions of what was once the fastest all-in-one of all time.
There's a separate forum for PowerPC-based Macs, you might consider starting a fresh discussion there.
 

DeltaMac

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One thing about the iMacs that can lead to this confusion: The early G5s had a removeable back, and were noticeably thicker.
The last G5 iMacs added the iSight camera on the front bezel - and redesigned the case so access is through the front. So, more challenging to get inside. The intel iMacs kept that same case design for a couple of years (until the release of the aluminum/black iMacs)
As you have discovered, the white Intel imacs are nearly identical in appearance to the G5 (iSight) iMac (until the release of the 24-inch iMac, anyway :D )
FWIW - your iSight iMac can have slightly more RAM installed (2.5GB maximum), as there is 512MB built-in RAM, adding 2GB in the single slot. (And, it can boot without RAM in the slot because of that built-in RAM - good for testing in some situations)
The simple screen icons do NOT indicate that you might have Classic Mac OS installed, as it can't boot to OS 9, for example. It will support the Classic environment, if you want to run Tiger on that G5 iMac.
I'm pretty sure all you are seeing is the icons provided in firmware, showing you the flashing folder icons. That just indicates that your iMac can't find a bootable system.

So, all you need is a standard install of Tiger (higher than OS X 10.4.2), or Leopard OS X 10.5
You can download an installer image for Tiger OS X 10.4.6 from www.macintoshgarden.org (scroll down to find the Tiger_4_6.dmg )
 

OLDCODGER

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Jul 27, 2011
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Although it is now moot, the Upgrade SL DVD has a nice picture of a snow leopard on its face, while machine specific releases are usually grey-faced.
 

oldosfan

macrumors newbie
Dec 14, 2017
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For everyone else here that's confused by this jumble of threads, old folder icons == new world ROM == ppc mac

The intel folder icons look very different.

I had the exact opposite issue once, confusing an Intel for a G5
 

Slix

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Mar 24, 2010
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Since it is a G5, you can always unscrew the back (from the speaker grills) and see what the internal drive and RAM look like before trying to find a bootable installer. It might save some time, since you might not even have a drive in there, if there's no OS that the Mac recognizes anyway.
 

DeltaMac

macrumors G4
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OP has an iSight iMac G5, which, due to major changes internally, does not have a removable back. It is very similar construction to the white intel iMacs, with the same access by removing the front bezel. Much trickier to get into, compared to that removable back on an older iMac G5.
And, the RAM is accessible without going inside at all, just a narrow door to remove on the bottom of the case.

(And, the OP likely has moved on, 4 months after posting. :D )
 
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