OS X acting strangly..

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by jrsx, Feb 23, 2014.

  1. jrsx macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #1
    Well, today I tried to boot into a Kubuntu 12.04 PPC liveCD, and for some reason, it wouldn't boot. I got a bunch of errors while booting, I can't remember exactly what they said, and then my Hard drive shut off. Upon reboot, OS X loaded a blue screen with a cursor, but nothing else. I rebooted again, and everything was acting strangely. First, it forgot my wireless networks passwords, then, my computers clock was set way back, and the date was messed up. Anyone know what happened here? Also, a lot of hard drive activity has occured since then, more than usual it seems.
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #2
    How old is your hard drive?

    It could be failing, which is why I ask.
     
  3. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #3
    I concur that the hard drive could be failing. Because the date and time were lost, your PRAM battery may be starting to fail as well.
     
  4. jrsx thread starter macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #4
    My HDD is the stock HDD from 2005. I don't really doubt that it's failing. The PRAM battery seems to be fine, though. I don't think that's failing at all.
     
  5. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #5
    If this is your iBook, then it doesn't have a PRAM battery. It uses the main battery keep the PRAM contents and a 30 second backup capacitor if the main battery is removed.
     
  6. jrsx thread starter macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #6
    30 second? When I've had my iBook apart it's kept the time for about 15 minutes (without battery in, of course)!
    Yes, this link seems to agree that iBook G4s don't have PRAM batteries.
     
  7. eyoungren macrumors P6

    eyoungren

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    #7
    Open Disk Utility and check the S.M.A.R.T status of your drive. If it tells you it's failing then you'll know.
     
  8. jrsx thread starter macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #8
    According to disk utility, the SMART status is verified.
     
  9. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #9
    A hard drive can still be failing with a verified good SMART status.
     
  10. jrsx thread starter macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #10
    So I've heard - I've also tested it with the Apple Hardware test (full surface scan), and it also said it is verified. But, being an old hard drive that's seen a lot of wear and tear, I wouldn't be at all surprised if it was failing. This still doesn't really explain why OS X forgot my wifi networks and date and time.
     
  11. iamMacPerson macrumors 68030

    iamMacPerson

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    #11
    Maybe the battery drained since the last time you used it? I know Leopard is a PITA to reconnect to WiFi if it losses PRAM power or the SMC/PRAM is reset. Drives me up the wall every time. 10.4 and older and 10.6 and newer don't suffer this problem. Just 10.5.
     
  12. Intell macrumors P6

    Intell

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    #12
    Did you force off the machine via the power button when it was stuck at the blue screen? That may have disrupted the clock's time enough for it to reset.
     
  13. jrsx thread starter macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #13
    First, I clicked the power button to see if a window with the restart, sleep, and shut down buttons appeared, but it did not. Then I just forced it off by holding down the power button for 4 seconds. That may have done it.
     
  14. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I think that your PRAM is corrupted, which may have happened when you booted into another OS.

    Hold Open-Apple + Option + P + R when starting, and keep holding it until the system resets two, or three times. This 'PRAM Zap' will clear your PRAM settings, and once you reset the clock, you should be back in business.

    The clock set to a bad date can cause some odd behaviour in OSX, but you want to completely fluch your PRAM before doing anything further.
     
  15. jrsx thread starter macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #15
    Well today.....

    .....I put a DVD into the combo drive, and it would not spin. At first I thought the drive was dead, but CD drives usually spit the CD out if it is dead. So then I put the iBook to sleep, but no sleep light appeared. I opened it to discover that it was not on. I tried to turn it on, but to no affect. I took the battery out, and unplugged it for a couple of seconds, and tried again. This time it booted, but again into a blue screen with a cursor. I had to force restart, and when I booted again, it was indexing my HDD. I restarted and zapped the PRAM, and it's working fine now, but does anyone know what is causing all of this?
    Also, how many times can you safely reset the PRAM on a computer before you kill it? :D
     
  16. AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

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    #16
    When you loaded Kubuntu, it changed PRAM values to some outside of normal range for OSX, corrupting the PRAM. All of these symptoms are red flags for PRAM corruption.

    PRAM holds settings for sleep, power monitoring, trackpad settings, time and date, power cycle, startup disc, and other variables. Thus, if it is corrupted, your system will act as if it is having a nervous breakdown.

    Often, if your system takes a long time to start, it is just a PRAM problem, and startup disc cycling.

    If you want Ubuntu for PowerPC, I suggest Ubuntu 10.04 LTE. The 12.04 release is not designed for this kind of system, and is pretty terrible on most older hardware, and the newer kernel doesn't have the right drivers and kexts for older portable systems. Most of the problems come from newer graphics drivers, and wireless drivers, but the mouse drivers in 12.04 also differ from those in 10.04 LTE: I was unable to use a built-in trackpad on a Dell 910 with 12.04.

    The fact that it would not boot, and kernel panicked, says that it would not run on your hardware, and it changed, or scrambled, PRAM values when you tried to use it, as I have said before. That's what caused it.

    As to how many times you can reset the PRAM: Essentially, as often as needed. Resetting it doesn't harm anything, and although the old technique usually called for a triple kick in the trousers, newer systems usually suffice with one or two. The only downside is re-establishing some of your preferences, each time you reset the PRAM, but it is often wise to reset it at least annually to fix bitrot, and general corruption over time.
     
  17. jrsx thread starter macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #17
    Thank you!! :D
    I figured it might have led down to either the hard disk or PRAM.
    Do you think that's also what caused my system to shut down after I put the CD in the combo drive?
    How does one deal with a corrupted PRAM? I reset it already, should that fix it theoretically?
     
  18. AmestrisXServe, Feb 25, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014

    AmestrisXServe macrumors 6502

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    #18
    I would think that it shut down due to a kernel panic, but I don't have all the details. From what I read, it started to load, and then panicked, which could lead to a shutdown sequence initiated by the kernel.

    PRAM is (physically) 'poor mans' NVRAM': it is Battery-backed RAM (BBR), and sending the open-apple + option + P + R command tells the firmware to clear its contents. You clear corrupted PRAM just as you did to resolve this, and in no other manner. The actual components (i.e. the physical RAM ICs) aren't corrupted: Only the memory record is corrupted.

    Real NVRAM generally falls into two categories: Bubble Memory (if anyone remembers this), and NAND memory, which may be on newer models of Apple HW, but is not used on any PowerPC model.

    Essentially, you have SRAM, or DRAM, or SDRAM, that has a battery for power when the system is off, and relies on main power when the system is on; else it would quickly kill the battery. Thus, the more often the system is running, the less you use your battery, and conversely, the less-often that your system is running, the more you rely on the backup battery.

    Most systems use a flat cell battery, similar to those used in watches, and clocks. Some systems have a cylindrical battery module, and a few have a battery that is soldered into position (usually not Apple systems). The original Mac, through the Mac Plus, used a AA battery, behind a cover, on the rear of the unit, behind the monitor, that you could access without opening the system.

    PRAM has been around that long, and is essentially a successor to the RTC cards in the Apple II days. The //gs used a form of PRAM that held system settings, for slot definitions and arrangements, screen colour settings, etc..

    As the systems evolved, more and more settings were allocated to PRAM, with the following being typical, although possibly not an absolute list:

    32-bit addressing (Classic, System 7-specific for M680x0 systems).
    Alarm clock setting (Classic only; not OSX).
    AppleTalk settings (may be Classic-only).
    Application font (Classic only; not OSX)
    Autokey rate and delay.
    Battery/Power management scheme (for laptops).
    Caret blink rate (may be Classic-only).
    Charmap settings.
    Desktop pattern (Classic only; not OSX)
    Disk cache (An important setting, that if corrupted causes all sorts of mayhem.)
    DVD region settings (stored for universal application access; you cannot change the value).
    Highlight colour (Classic only; not OSX)
    Lockdown firmware password (not all models).
    Menu blink count (Classic only; not OSX).
    Monitor configuration and display settings (Classic only; not OSX)
    Mouse and trackpad settings, including click rate, tracking, acceleration, etc..
    Network settings (Classic only; not OSX)
    RAM disk (Classic primarily; RAM Disks in OSX are handled differently)
    Recent kernel panic logs.
    Screen resolution and colour depth.
    Serial printer settings (may be Classic-only).
    Serial-Port configurations and settings (may be Classic-only).
    Sound input settings.
    Speaker output volume.
    Startup disk (a very important setting).
    System sounds (Classic only; not OSX)
    Time, date, timezone, and region settings.
    Virtual memory (Classic only; not OSX).


    The actual PRAM values differ based on the model of Macintosh, so some or many of these may not apply to a specific case.

    Another command, similar to open-apple + option + P + R is the command to reset NVRAM, and is reset with open-apple + option + N + V. This too, may be model-specific, and not all Mac models can execute this command.

    NVRAM holds more low-level information, such as:
    Boot beep, error beep
    Open Firmware
    POST (Power-on Self Test)
    ROM diagnostics

    Tied to PRAM, it stores the values for:
    aapl,tdm-units
    ASVP
    auto-boot
    boot-args
    boot-command
    boot-device
    boot-screen
    boot-script
    boot-volume
    console-screen
    default-client-ip
    default-gateway-ip
    default-mac-address
    default-router-ip
    default-server-ip
    default-subnet-mask
    diag-device
    diag-file
    diag-switch
    fcode-debug
    input-device
    input-device-1
    little-endian
    load-base
    logger-base
    mouse-device
    oem-banner
    output-device
    output-device-1
    pci-probe-mask
    playform-uuid
    prev-lang
    ram-size
    real-base
    real-size
    screen-#columns
    screen-#rows
    scroll-lock
    selftext-#megs
    skip-netboot
    use-generic
    use-nvramrc
    virt-base
    virt-size


    Some systems may store other values, and these are valid for NWR (Open-Firmware) Macs. OWR Macs, from the Platinum G3 desktop, and Platinum G3 tower systems, back to the original Macintosh, do not have these NVRAM-specific settings, and rely on PRAM settings.

    Resetting PRAM usually also resets NVRAM, but I believe that resetting NVRAM only using the open-apple + option + N + V command does not always affect PRAM. (See this article on NVRAM

    While it is possible in theory to have faulty PRAM chips, in thirty years of repairing Mac HW, I have never once seen that problem. I have had to replace my share of batteries, which is wise to do every so often (e.g. five-year to ten-year intervals in my case).

    For Ubuntu on PowerPC, you may want to read this FAQ.

    Note that I disagree with using 12.04, from various personal experiences of it panicking, or drivers not working. 10.04 LTE is really the widest, best-supported Linux PPC flavour; YDL 7 would be my second choice.
     
  19. jrsx thread starter macrumors 65816

    jrsx

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    #19
    Okay, I think clearing my PRAM fixed it. Thanks! The only strange thing that's happened since is sound and mic drivers not working, but I think that's a different matter fixed by rebooting. As far as I am concerned, this issue is resolved!
     

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