Messed up 10.5.8 on older MacBook. Need help!

Discussion in 'MacBook' started by mh1983, Sep 9, 2015.

  1. mh1983 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2015
    #1
    Hi all,

    I'm a long time Windows user but Mac noob through and through. My wife's MacBook stopped working properly ages ago so we chalked it up to a mobo issue at the time.

    Recently I dusted it off and the system turns on properly when plugged in; I think it's just a loose battery connector.

    Anyways, the bigger issue is one I created. I wanted to revive the laptop with an OS that's newer/better supported than 10.5.8 without having to buy something new. So I performed a time machine backup, but also wanted to manually back up her files in case we jump to a different OS such as Windows or a Linux distro.

    I read a few posts about this and was lead to believe that I could simply cut/copy and paste the files/folder structure onto external media. I went ahead with this -- I cut and paste, which is where the mistake began.

    Everything moved over without any warnings. From here, I planned on installing a new OS (Linux Mint at the time). When I rebooted the machine, I realized the error of my ways.

    I got the dreaded question mark box. I suspect I ruined the OS as well as the HDD bootloader. It gets better: I don't have an OSX recovery disk to fix up my mistake.

    I've been trying to fix this with other CDs -- Windows repair, Linux, the ultimate boot CD, hiren's boot CD. Nothing works. The closest I got to a fix was installing Windows 10, but it didn't see the HDD at all, nor could I repartition/reformat.

    I'm stuck. I imagine I need an OSX disc to get anywhere? Very frustrating. My dad found an OS 10.4 set of disks lying around, so one version down. He's shipping them up and I'm hoping I can recover using those.

    Anyone have any suggestions? If the OSX 10.4 discs won't help me, I'm hoping I'm missing something obvious.

    Thanks!
     
  2. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    #2
    What do you mean by "older MacBook"? You'll have to provide something like a product number in order for folks here to help you any further.

    However, given that you are (or "were", I suppose) running 10.5.8, you should be able to just get a retail copy of Snow Leopard (10.6) off eBay and use those.
     
  3. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    #3
    What do you mean by "older MacBook"? You'll have to provide something like a product number in order for folks here to help you any further.

    However, given that you are (or "were", I suppose) running 10.5.8, you should be able to just get a retail copy of Snow Leopard (10.6) off eBay and use those.

    Cool ... double-posted. Internet is awesome.
     
  4. mh1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2015
    #4
    Appreciate your reply!

    Sorry for not including more specifics on the model. The model number appears to be "A1181" (though the last "1" is faded, so it's my best guess). Hope that helps.

    Regarding your suggestion, I considered Snow Leopard, but as mentioned in my OP: "I wanted to revive the laptop with an OS that's newer/better supported than 10.5.8 without having to buy something new."

    I'll have my hands on a 10.4 disc that my dad had lying around. So I'm basically wondering if I can recover my HDD/reformat to a usable partition, and from there hop on to a Win 10 or Linux install.
     
  5. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    #5
    Tough to say if you will be able to use 10.4 install media. If the system you have originally shipped with that version, and your dad also has the same laptop, then chances are good it will work. If one or both of those are not accurate, then chances are not good.

    Honestly, if it were me, I would get 10.6 on eBay ($25-$50 USD incl shipping) and be done with it. As then I would also have a physical copy of a newer OS version.

    If it was an early-2008 MBP, I'd be able to put images of the install discs on my NAS for you, and give you temporary credentials to login and grab them, but those images are specific to the early-2008 MBP model, and will not work for yours.
     
  6. mh1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2015
    #6
    Thanks, duervo. Appreciate the sentiment about sharing images on the NAS and your timely replies.

    I may bite the bullet and go with 10.6 if my next test doesn't work out. In case I didn't specify, I just want to use the 10.4 disc to recover my HDD partition. I've had zero luck with third party boot discs (how locked down can a system be?!) So I figured I'd dance to the tune of Apple.

    So, my hope is:

    1) Recover using OS 10.4 disc(s) (not install)
    2) Install alternate OS (Win10, which, after some tweaking of my original disc, I've been able to make Mac bootable)

    If this is a fool's errand, I'll explore 10.6. Will report back (and open to alternative suggestions!)
     
  7. Fishrrman macrumors G4

    Fishrrman

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2009
    #7
    If the MacBook has a working CD/DVD drive, I'd advise you to find a "universal installer" version of 10.6 and install it.

    I -think- these may still be available from Apple for around $20.
    From ebay, even less.
    Or, perhaps free from "the UN-authorized" places...
     
  8. ApolloBoy macrumors 6502a

    ApolloBoy

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2015
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    #8
    Depending on your MacBook's CPU you can go as high as 10.7 (Lion) for the OS. That'll get you access to iCloud if you use that at all.
     
  9. mh1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Sep 9, 2015
    #9
    I don't necessarily want to go the OSX route in this case for reasons stated above, but thanks for the thoughts!
     
  10. duervo macrumors 68000

    duervo

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2011
    #10
    Macs use their own implementation of EFI to boot*. Most likely your issues with booting a Linux ISO stem from that. That's usually why people used something like rEFIt to get a Mac to boot off a Linux partition or install image.

    Admittedly, I went straight OS X a couple years ago in my MBP. I just run VMs now for the rare time I need to use a different OS. So, it's possible that at the present time, something like rEFIt is no longer needed. However, I haven't seen anything suggesting that in the bit of googling I've done.

    What sucks in your case is that in order to install rEFIt, you need to install it while booted into OS X. So you're probably going to have to get OS X reinstalled somehow. If that's not easily done, and it sounds like you don't want OS X at all, then consider selling that system as is, and using the proceeds to get something that will run Windows or Linux. There are lots of capable, cheap, systems that can do that job.

    *Some may say, "Well, why doesn't Apple stick to industry standards?" TBH, AFAIK, Apple has been using EFI since before the UEFI standard was fully completed by IBM, HP, Intel, etc. So, one could logically argue that it's IBM & Friends that should have borne the burden of keeping things compatible ... but that's a discussion for another bat place, on a another bat channel.
     
  11. Jack Neill macrumors member

    Jack Neill

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2015
    Location:
    San Antonio Texas
    #11
    I agree with the others and say go for SL, if you have a 7/8.1 Windows key around, I say go for that and grab a free copy of 10. My old 2,1 runs W10 Pro better than any of the old cats. But I did drop 4Gb and a SSD in it.
     
  12. mh1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2015
    #12
    Thanks for the reply, Jack. Yes, I'd definitely like to get W10 pro on there, which I have a key for. I can get the install DVD to boot on the Macbook, but the system doesn't see a hard drive partition, nor can I create one. :(
     
  13. mh1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Sep 9, 2015
    #13
    Hi all,

    Finally revisited this. I got a new Snow Leopard install DVD, popped it into the optical drive (holding C), and I get the same oppressive question mark. :( the DVD eventually ejects, usually after three attempts at spinning up.

    Why wouldn't the disc work? Brand new, and a version newer than the OS X that came on the system. At a loss.

     
  14. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #14
    Your 6 or 7 year old DVD drive may just not be reading the DVD properly, and finally gives up and ejects the disk.
    You could try blowing the dust out, with a can-o-air, blowing around in the slot.
    Try the DVD again, but instead of holding the C (which SHOULD work), just hold Option. You should get the available bootable partitions on the screen. On yours, probably only the installer DVD will show up, if the drive will read it at all.
    Select that partition, if it appears, and press enter to boot from it.
    You may just see the DVD simply try again a couple of times, and just eject like before. Could be simply a bad optical drive, not uncommon on the thin slot-loading drives.
    You COULD then try a USB external DVD drive, if you have one available. I have seen several recently that you can get at Amazon and other sites for less than $30 that work fine on a Mac.
    The OTHER tip that I have is to make a copy of the disk image for the Snow Leopard DVD, copy the image (Restore) using Disk Utility on an another Mac, to an 8GB blank partition, or an 8GB USB flash drive. You will end up with a Snow Leopard installer that is both faster to install, and more reliable than the DVD original. Use that copied partition to boot the MacBook. If you have the old files in place, the OS X install will sort things out to some extent, get the system installed and bootable.
     
  15. mh1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2015
    #15
    Thanks for your reply -- great suggestions! Will try the can of air first and then the other avenues you suggested if needed.

    For kicks, I popped in a Win10 install disc (formatted for Mac) and, unexpectedly, it booted right away! The plot thickens...
     
  16. headsh0t95 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Dec 21, 2013
    Location:
    Netherlands
    #16
    If you meant you got Windows 10 to boot:
    Windows 10 can not see any HFS(+) Mac partition as it only supports the FAT(32), NTFS and ExFAT file systems.
    That's a very likely reason for why you don't see any partitions listed. You also can't create them as all unallocated drive space is filled up by those Mac partitions.

    If you meant you got OS X to boot:
    Your hard drive might have failed, as it should at least be detected under Disk Utility. The partition might have been destroyed by your actions, but the whole drive should at least be visible.

    Finally:
    A Snow Leopard DVD should *ALWAYS* boot as it runs on even the very first Intel macs. Only models from Late 2011 and newer are not compatible with Snow Leopard as these require Lion or higher. All A1181 Macbooks fall in the older than 2011 category and should therefore be able to boot the DVD!
     
  17. mh1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2015
    #17
    Hi, thanks for your reply. I did in fact mean Win 10.

    However, I finally made some progress. After extracting an image of Snow Leopard and using Transmac to put it on an external drive, I'm not finally able to boot into the installer view (USB didn't work, but firewire did). Hurrah!

    Unfortunately, no hard drive is detected in the installer, nor Disk Utility. I guess that means the drive is toast? It worked fine before I botched the original OS X. What a pain. :(
     
  18. mh1983 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2015
    #18
    This is starting to feeling like a sinking ship, but I'm stubbornly pressing on for now.

    Are there any boot USB-friendly tools I could use to try to rescue the HDD? Or am I looking at having to actually take it out of the MacBook and possibly replace it at this point?
     
  19. DeltaMac macrumors 604

    DeltaMac

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2003
    Location:
    Delaware
    #19
    I suspect that your hard drive is not helping you much now.
    You said in your OP that you have backed up whatever you need to save, so it will be way easier at this point to just give up on the hard drive, and replace it.
    That's not a difficult task. Just remove the main battery. Loosen screws to remove the L-shaped panel that you find around the sides of the battery compartment. Slide the old hard drive out - it has a pull tab. Transfer the side screws on the old HD to the new one, Slide back in place, reset the little panel, and put the battery back in position. It almost takes less time than reading these few lines. If you PREFER to install Windows, then that's a possibility, as the Win install should see the new hard drive. I don't know about getting drivers installed for the Win10 install on an older Macbook, but that's on you at that point.
    Or, it should also accept the Snow Leopard install now, after replacing the hard drive.
    You can also consider using an SSD instead of a hard drive. You would end up with a MacBook that works better than new with an SSD!
     

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