PowerBook G4 Boot/Install Issues

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by brettroby, Aug 28, 2016.

  1. brettroby macrumors newbie

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    #1
    Hello,

    Longtime browser, first-time poster!

    I have an ancient 15" PowerBook G4 that I recently put up for sale on Craigslist along with a few other old Macs in order to clear space at the office and just get rid of old stuff. The buyers took them off of my hands, and then tried reinstalling an OS on the PowerBook. They couldn't get it to go, which I thought was peculiar because the system was working when I gave it to them. I decided to be a nice guy and take the thing back and feed my tinkerer urge.

    Now, I've performed dozens or hundreds of Mac OS X installs before, in all walks of Mac from early G3 machines to the most modern Xeon and i7. This one simply has me stumped. I fear it's something incredibly basic that I'm just missing. Let me try and break it down succinctly, although I sense that it will not end up being succinct...

    OK, so first things first: I have a couple of known working hard drives. The issue is persistent on any hard drive I try. I have a couple of known working (and compatible) installation discs. The issue is persistent on any disc I try. I have the original, authentic media. I also have several installation ISOs on an external FireWire drive.

    What happens when I attempt to install from optical drive is that the system gets to the white Apple logo screen with the pinwheel, but then all of a sudden the pinwheel stops and we go into freeze mode. There's no escaping this, and this exact thing occurs with any combination of hard drive and installation media.

    When I try to install from an external FireWire drive, the boot selection screen does not have any options whatsoever — no external (or any) sources can be seen. My external FireWire drive is a LaCie and it has several compatible OS installers restored to it. Nary an option shows on the PowerBook G4 boot selection screen — and yes, I have 10.5 and 10.4 on there. I found it quite strange that these didn't appear.

    I also tried booting and doing stuff in Target Disk mode. Absolutely zero luck there. Dead-end street to say the least with that one.

    This is where it gets weird as heck.

    Just for kicks and giggles, I removed the hard drive and then saw if the installation could get past the white Apple logo screen without the hard drive installed. Sure enough, it did! It rifled straight past that screen and into the traditional installation process screen with which we're all familiar. Problem: now there is no hard drive in the machine so I can't perform the install! I have tried installing the hard drive once we are in the installation mode, both inside the actual system and as an external USB drive. No luck there. Not really surprised by that, though.

    I have reset the PRAM a number of times, left the machine unplugged and then plugged it back in, removed the removable battery; pretty much all the basic stuff that one does when a computer is acting up. I just can't figure this out.

    My next guess is to completely replace the PRAM battery, as it's the original and therefore quite old.

    At I type this post, I am currently performing an installation from one Mac (Mac Pro) to the hard drive I intend to use for the OS for the PowerBook G4. I'm doing the installation via standard installation but with the caveat that the target hard drive is actually connected to a USB/IDE adapter and the hard drive is not physically in the computer. The installation is going great and I've only got a few minutes to go. I have a bad feeling that when it is done, the PowerBook G4 still won't boot. Of course this is just a feeling so I won't know until I try it.

    What's really weird is that when I break this all down, it seems like the inability to boot and perform an installation only occurs when there is a hard drive installed in the PowerBook G4. I simply do not understand that. The last time I used this computer, it was being used to drive a 30" aluminum Apple Cinema Display for a trade show, where it ran PowerPoints and other video to demonstrate product for our company. This was a few years ago, but the computer worked great at that time for this purpose — even though it was old then. I hadn't turned it on since then, though.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #2
    You might have a bad hard drive ribbon cable. I'd replace that and see what happens. They aren't expensive.
     
  3. brettroby thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #3
    Thanks for the quick reply. I suppose I could give that a shot. It seems like that could be a likely source of the problem.

    I am now getting the question mark Finder folder upon boot, after performing the installation on the hard drive. That seems strange because I wasn't getting that before.

    What do you think about replacing the PRAM battery?
     
  4. DeltaMac macrumors G3

    DeltaMac

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    #4
    I don't think that you can make an OS X install from a MacPro that will boot a PowerPC Mac. You can't install from a MacPro, unless the drive is formatted GUID, and you can't boot a PowerPC Mac from a GUID formatted drive. You will get the flashing (?)

    Is your PowerBook really old (Titanium G4)? I have blown out a couple of external Firewire drives on those over the years. Still have one G4 Titanium here, which I finally downgraded from Leopard to Tiger. It would commonly overheat for me, and just a little flaky on Leopard. Tiger is a much better "fit", at least in my experience.
     
  5. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #5
    Don't think the PRAM battery has any part of this. But if you were not careful how you formatted the drive it could be GUID. For PowerPC Macs it needs to be APM. That would be why the Mac flashes the question mark folder.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 28, 2016 ---
    I've installed Leopard from my MBP on an APM formatted USB stick. My Quicksilver booted off it.

    A later version of Tiger and all Leopard installs from a retail disk are universal. Both PowerPC and Intel are installed at the same time and the computer uses the appropriate one.
     
  6. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

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    #6
    Offtopic, but .. I re-installed my PowerBook G4 last night and everything went smooth, I actually found my two install disks. BUT .. the wifi it finds during install it can't find during normal use. And if it does connect it says out of range. Even though it's right there next to it. But during installation it had no issues connecting to Apple for the registration and other stuff. Very odd. I've spent hours on this and can't figure it out - Airport wont even list any of the 25+ wifi spots I normally see.

    Saw this thread and I am thinking .. glad it's the only issue I got, I didn't expect to breathe some fresh air/life into the 2005 powerbook.
     
  7. brettroby thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #7
    Thanks for your reply. I formatted the drive last night via USB adapter, and I am pretty certain I formatted it as it should be, but as I type this now I didn't go through all of the little checks and so you could be right that it isn't in the right format in terms of non-GUID because the computer I used to perform the format is an El Capitan system (MacBook Pro). Should I try to do that again?

    Attached is an image of the actual computer, taken a moment ago. Pardon the messy desk.
     

    Attached Files:

  8. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #8
    Ahhh. That is probably your problem.

    Leopard 10.5.8 is the max any PowerBook can install. So, if you are using an Intel Mac to install you need one that can boot from a Leopard disk for the install.

    Now if you meant that El Capitan is what your Intel Mac normally uses but you can boot from a Leopard disk than that's one thing. But you cannot install El Capitan to a PowerPC Mac.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 28, 2016 ---
    Do you have your Firewall on? And you are updated to 10.5.8?
     
  9. DeltaMac macrumors G3

    DeltaMac

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    #9
    And, you can't run the installer on a Mac Pro (or MBPro) with the goal of making a drive partition bootable on your PowerBook G4.
    It will either refuse to install on the drive (if it is formatted APM), or will install because the drive is formatted GUID, but the result won't boot the old PowerBook.
     
  10. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #10
    Am I missing something?

    I formatted the USB stick with one APM partition using the Leopard installer disk on my 2006 MBP. I then proceeded to install Leopard. My Quicksilver boots from it because I use it as a minmal install for maintenance purposes of the QS's main drive.
     
  11. brettroby thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #11
    I just meant that the computer I used to format the drive so that I could have a fresh start with it is running El Capitan. I am certainly not interested in trying to get the PowerBook to run El Capitan, and I understand that the max OS is 10.5, which is what I just installed when it was attached to my Mac Pro as an external USB drive.

    We could also go this route, since we've introduced a lot of variables that I'm probably not explaining clearly: if you were starting from scratch right now, what would you do?
     
  12. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #12
    The same thing you are doing right now. Just make sure that it's an APM formatted drive. If after that, the PB still does not recognize that there is a drive there I still recommend replacing the HD ribbon connector.
     
  13. brettroby thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Gotcha. I formatted using my MacBook Pro (just because of it's actual location it was the easiest to use) and selected APM, then made an attempt to install the OS on the disk again, using the same Mac Pro as before. Here's what happened (see attached).

    The 120 GB is my OS (Server), the two "1 TB..." and one "3 TB..." drives are other drives that are actually installed in my server. The 60 GB is the target drive that will hopefully and eventually go into the PowerBook G4.
    --- Post Merged, Aug 28, 2016 ---
    See the post I just made. You might be on to something here...
     

    Attached Files:

  14. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #14
    Well…in this case @DeltaMac is right. I wonder if perhaps my situation was because my MBP is 2006 vintage.

    If you want to install Leopard (or Tiger) you're going to need to find some way to do with an APM formatted drive.
     
  15. brettroby thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #15
    I think I will try to get a replacement hard drive ribbon and see what happens there.

    Do you have any idea as to why the installation always hangs and eventually freezes the pinwheel at the white Apple logo boot screen when trying to install from the optical drive, but ONLY when there's a hard drive installed? When no hard drive is installed, I can go right into the normal OS installation process as I'm accustomed to doing and have done so many times before.

    Also, what's up with the boot selection screen not being able to see the LaCie drive? All this stuff is just really making me nuts because none of it seems to make sense — especially since this computer worked fine last time I turned it on.
     
  16. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #16
    I am just guessing on the ribbon cable.

    A couple of years ago a friend of mine gave me an iBook G4. I tried several times to install Leopard on it but it either crashed while booting the installer or froze while installing.

    My friend is very comfortable with working inside iBooks (I am not, I hate them) and he had replaced a hard drive on this unit. Unfortunately he did not realize at the time he replaced the HD he had torn one end of the HD connector partially off the logicboard (it wasn't a connector, it was permanently attached). This caused the iBook to freeze any time there was serious HD access.

    This is why I am speculating that the ribbon cable is bad. Your symptoms sound somewhat similar to my problem.

    We've ruled out a bad drive, unless the buyer monkeyed with the Mac there is no reason to believe that they have damaged anything connector wise and while it's possible that the drive controller on the LB has failed ruling out the ribbon cable first is the least expensive option.

    As to why the Mac is not seeing other connections, I don't know. My fear is the logicboard, but I've been wrong several other times on this so it might not be.
     
  17. brettroby thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Thanks for all your input on this so far (and the other contributors as well). It is appreciated. I am curious to know how much time and energy (which equals money) I should spend on this project. I have absolutely no use for this machine, but at the same time I am perplexed and intrigued and would love to see if I can get this resurrected. I would then probably just sell it, but values for these things don't seem to be too high right now so this would truly be a labor of love situation. It's also taking up valuable real estate in my workshop being disassembled and with all those tiny screws just sitting there so precariously and just asking to be lost while I try to figure this thing out.
     
  18. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #18
    Well, the HD connector cable, should you get it shouldn't cost more than $8-15 on the high end.

    It's more a matter of how much time you're willing to spend on it. The value of our PowerPC Macs means any work we do on them is not worth the cost involved - so it's all because of our love for these Macs.

    That said, if you reach a point where you are no longer invested, put it back together and sell it as "For Parts or Repair". The next person who buys it will thank you that all the screws are there. :D
     
  19. brettroby thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    Ain't that the truth. It's all about the experience and the journey with these things; that's for sure. I'd love to spend $20 or so max and get it up and running, then just kind of see it off to another caring owner. It has no business being in my home considering the other computers we've got already. This would get literally zero usage.
     
  20. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

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    #20

    Can't upgrade to 10.5.8, because I can't get it on the Internet, except during installation, apparently. Trying more things out this coming weekend.
     
  21. eyoungren macrumors Core

    eyoungren

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    #21
    My wife had an issue once where she could not connect. Turned out to be a bug in the firewall of Leopard. Turning the firewall off solved the issue.

    I'm just wondering if you have the firewall up if that is preventing you from seeing the networks.
     
  22. Floris macrumors 68020

    Floris

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    #22
    Funny story.. I just booted it up to a) check the battery, and b ) to see if the firewall was turned off/on. It is still on 10.4.11 btw.

    BUT! Wifi worked, super fast, .. and it shows the other stuff.. I could upgrade the machine. Tomorrow I hope it still does that and maybe I can put 10.5 on it.
     
  23. b4peace macrumors member

    b4peace

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    #23
    My 2003 Powerbook G4 OSX Tiger (bought refurbished in 2009) has been working fine for the past 8 years!!! Recently, it crashed a couple of times and then gradually became more difficult to power on, going from: being able to power on/log in and go online then crash, to power on/login to desktop then freeze, power on start to login then freeze, to now: tries to power on then strange tone sound, black screen, no life.

    One tech suggested it was overheating with clogged fan but that sounds a bit far fetched to me.

    Any ideas?
     
  24. DeltaMac macrumors G3

    DeltaMac

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    #24
    If you get that strange tone immediately at boot, after your powerbook has been shut OFF for an hour or two, then it's not likely overheating, at least at that moment.
    But, 14-year old laptop, and in use for that time you have had it -- 8 years, then it's not too far-fetched that the cooling passages/fan might not be as clean as it could be, affecting cooling.

    Did you open it up to take a look? Not too challenging, unless your PowerBook is a 12-inch model. Those are a bit tricky to clean up.

    Finally, the heat sink compound (joining the CPU to the heat sink) loses efficiency with time. That can be redone, taking a little time for some disassembly to get to that joint.
     
  25. b4peace macrumors member

    b4peace

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    #25
    Thanks for quick response! It's a 17" Powerbook and I'm not sure about opening it myself. It probably could use a good clean and service but I have a feeling it's more than that. Here's why:

    1. After looking at a suggestion online I removed the battery, then after pressing the power button a couple of times it powered on, booted and logged on, and I was able to copy a folder from desktop to USB drive but when I opened the Tenfourfox browser to go online it froze.

    2. Tried to power on again but no luck, so I replaced battery, unplugged & replugged adapter. Had to press power button several times and it finally powered on and booted again. I logged on but it froze on desktop. Also noticed that date & time had reverted back.

    3. Removed battery again, pressed power button several times, finally powered on but froze at spinning wheel stage, didn't even get to log on.

    4. Tried pressing power button several times but nothing at all.

    5. Now several hours later pressed power button heard chime but screen is black and no sign of iife!

    Any suggestions appreciated :)
     

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