Sick iMac won't complete boot (it's not the HD)

Discussion in 'iMac' started by julianabr, Aug 7, 2012.

  1. julianabr macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    My imac (24-inch Early 2008) is not completing the boot process. After the apple appears and then the "working" pinwheel has spun for a while, the pinwheel stops and never recovers, forcing me to do a hard shutdown. Below I'll list what i have tried and what was the result.

    -- My first thought was that it was the HD. It's always the HD, you know? Well, I replaced the hard drive and we're still having the same issue

    -- I've tried booting from an external HD, a usb drive and the install disk. Displays the same behavior for all (NOTE: these are all snow leopard. I'm going to partition my usb key with lion to see if i get any further, but I don't expect any change).

    -- Attempted to boot in safe mode (CMD Shift):
    -- --Displays apple screen with the progress bar
    -- --fills the bar about 30%
    -- --bar disappears and is replaced with spinning gear
    -- --gear freezes, no boot

    -- pulled and re-set ram in slots (not original RAM, but replaced w Kingston RAM when I got the machine in early 2008, and there have been no probs until now)

    -- PRAM Reset: CMD + option + P + R

    -- SMC Reset: Unplugged for 15 seconds, plug and wait for 5 seconds, press power

    -- Unplug for 15 seconds, hold power button while plugging in, release power button, press power to turn on (Some other variation of reset I found out there, don't remember what they said it was for)

    I've tried starting in verbose mode, and it seems to stop in roughly the same place no matter what I'm trying. The same place being the initialization of the network cards. Even tho' verbose says it logs to /dev/console/ there is nothing in that directory for whichever boot drive I'm using (yes, I looked in hidden files). So, I hand copied the last few lines in my latest attempt:

    yukon: Ethernet address BLAH BLAH
    Airport_Brem43xx : Ethernet address BLAH BLAH
    IO80211Controller:: dataLinkLayerAttachComplete () adding AppleEFINVRAM notification
    Airport: Link Down on en1. Reason 1 (unspecified)

    I have had some verbose logs stopping after "yukon: Ethernet address", as well as other lines that all seem to be related to either one of the network cards.

    I've seen some posts listing those lines from error logs, etc., but they all seemed to be issues with slowing and poor performance (which my mac had displayed prior to death). The solutions, if any, don't really apply to me since I can't boot at all.

    I've got to get this puppy up and running for the start of school in a week. HELP! :eek:

    Please don't make me go to genius bar!


    P.S. I should note that the OS is not yet installed on the internal drive. After I replaced the drive, I figured I'd boot off the install disk and install then. Do you think it's worth opening it up again, take out the drive, install OSX from one of my other machines, then reinstall? It's an imac, so it's a bit involved. But I can't imagine it would be any different than trying to boot from an external, right?
  2. goRoostr macrumors member

    May 17, 2012
    Philadelphia Suburbs
    Try using 1 ram chip at a time, and than try them in different slots. Also see if it lets you do the Apple Hardware test.

    If you do not have the original install disk look up the specific AHT test and try to download it off a torrent.
  3. julianabr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    Been there, done that with the RAM. But I'm fairly certain it's not RAM because I don't believe I'd get to the apple boot screen with bad mem. Can anyone confirm on that?

    I can't run any test because it won't boot. Off of anything. I explained above that I've used install disk, an external HD (firewire and USB) AND a USB thumb drive. No boot.

    I'm thinking the answer lies somewhere in the boot instructions, w kexts maybe? I just don't know enough about exactly where those are, and what to zap, replace or keep.
  4. forty2j macrumors 68030


    Jul 11, 2008
    Will it boot in Target Disk Mode, and do you have another computer with FireWire you can plug it in to?
  5. goRoostr macrumors member

    May 17, 2012
    Philadelphia Suburbs
    Apple Hardware Test is not a fancy GUI like other things your have tried to run, so do not discount it so easily. Messing with kernel extensions wont do anything, since it has the same issue with any type of boot media.
  6. julianabr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    I'm not dismissing a thing. It won't boot off of ANY MEDIA, so I CAN'T run AHT. And I'll bet $20 I was doing command line in DOS (and the Apple II, for that matter) before you were born. (said with goodwill, not with snarky. No fun getting older..)

    The only thing I can do is get into Single User mode. I can only run things that I can goose from the command line. (won't finish boot from SUM either)

    As far as target disk mode, I think the only benefits would be to have a boot device and/or save data on the drive. As far as boot options, I've tried external HD on Firewire & USB, Install Disk, Thumb Drive once with Snow Leopard installed, second time with Lion (it couldn't hurt, i figure).

    "Messing with kernel extensions wont do anything, since it has the same issue with any type of boot media."

    Well, isnt that kind of the point? I can't boot off of any media, so isn't the only constant things that derive from the hardware itself (isn't that where kexts reside?)


    Just to clarify, my data isn't the problem. When this problem arose, this mac was due for a major cleaning anyway, so i just swapped out the drive. I figured I'd clean install the OS, clean install apps, then selectively copy data over from the old drive. Except the problem wasn't the hard drive. I don't have a data issue, my data is safe sitting on the old drive. I just want to boot.
  7. NickConnolly macrumors newbie

    Oct 15, 2012
    No solution but same problem

    My mac has developed an issue that sounds very like yours. Won't boot or takes forever too boot. Prior it had been increasingly showing the spinning beach ball of death.

    It could boot in recovery mood and eventually erased hard drive and reinstalled Mountain Lion and then recovered all my files/settings from TimeCapsule.

    However the start up issue is still there intermittently.
  8. Roller macrumors 68020

    Jun 25, 2003
    I've certainly heard about people experiencing RAM-related problems that manifested after their Mac was up and running. By any chance do you still have the original RAM around to try? When I replace memory, I try to keep the original sticks around for situations like this. (4+ years is a long time, I know.)
  9. Winni, Oct 15, 2012
    Last edited: Oct 15, 2012

    Winni macrumors 68030


    Oct 15, 2008
    I'd try booting a Linux live distribution from a USB stick just to see if the system can boot it. Linux is a great hardware test in itself; if Linux boots without problems, your hardware problem is working fine and it's just OS X that causes the problem.

    If you have a working system, download Ubuntu 12.04 LTS from, put it on a USB stick (the documentation for that is on the website), press the Alt/Option key on your "sick" Mac and boot from the stick.

    Booting Linux from a USB stick takes a while. But if end up seeing a graphical desktop environment, you know that your Mac basically is okay.

    If you see a bunch of kernel errors, you will at least get a hint at what might be wrong with your system.

    Those messages are just informational and don't suggest that anything's wrong. Even the "link down/Reason 1 (unspecified)" message is absolutely normal at this stage. Because, well, at this stage during the boot process the Airport link -is- still down.

    The problem lies in whatever happens -after- OS X has initialized the network cards and what is -not- shown in the logfile.

    I would not remove the internal drive and use a different computer to install OS X on it. Make a clean installation directly on this computer and install the OS onto the internal hard disk. Either use the DVD that came with the computer or use a retail version of OS X for this - do NOT use an OS X DVD that came with a different Mac. But I think that any retail or AppStore version of OS X Snow Leopard or later should work just fine on that Mac.

    Actually, no. I'd rather expect a "gray screen of death" somewhere during the boot process, to be honest.

    Either try booting Linux from a USB stick - they all have good memory tests on board - or even try booting into a Windows installer. The Windows installer also is a good memory test; when you run into a blue screen or similar strange behavior while booting a Windows DVD, you know that your memory is the problem. (That's because the Windows installation, unlike Unixes, loads a lot of stuff into high memory areas that are not immediately used by Unixes at this stage. So Windows usually crashes earlier which in this case is a good thing because it is a better indication for memory issues.)
  10. Check 6 macrumors regular

    Nov 12, 2007
    I posted this on the Mac Pro board, my Mac Pro is in the shop for the third time since April with the same three random issues at boot up.

    They are:

    1. It will boot to the gray screen and with horizontal lines scrolling down the screen and go no farther

    2. It will boot to a gray screen and I will never see even the Apple logo and go no farther

    3. It will boot to the desktop and all seems well except for the message that the bluetooth track pad is not recognized ( track pad cursor will not move either)

    In all three cases the only solution is a hard shutdown via the on off switch. The next boot in all cases will be normal.

    Six month old MacPro running Lion. It has been in the shop for over two weeks this time, and was in for at least two weeks each of the other two times. Remember it was brand new in April of this year.

    They have not been able to duplicate the error although they have noticed some irregular entries on the control log.

    As background: My wife has a two year old Imac that has been flawless, and the Imac we bought our Daughter and son ibn law almost three years ago has also been trouble free as are our MBP

    I had a MacPro for two years that was in the shop constantly for various hardware problems and finally the good people at Apple took it back and replaced it with this new one that is now in for the third time. I will be the first to admit that software issues are hard to correct especially if they are random.

    Needless to say I have lost faith in the Mac Pro and would jump at an Imac if they offered. I am losing too too much work time.

    Good luck with your problem
  11. kgreene macrumors newbie

    Feb 15, 2008
    I have a 24" imac also and appear to be having the same issues. Hangs at the spinning cursor, can boot into single user mode, that's it. For a few times I was able to boot off the boot CD and run the apple hardware test but then that just stopped working also (won't boot off of any CDs/drives/etc).

    After reading a bunch of posts my best guess at this point is that it is a gpu failure (8800). I was having some gpu like graphics symptoms for a short time before the machine completely stopped booting. From what I've read, sometimes a gpu failure will prevent the machine from booting in this way (though I don't have any links offhand). Apparently the 8800s were prone to failure, unfortunately it's past the 3 year apple care and there is no official recall or anything.
  12. julianabr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    Turned out to be gpu failure

    Well i ended up taking it in to the apple store. It actually took them a while to figure out what was going on, so i dont feel so bad that i couldnt. :)

    They replaced the graphics processor (possibly some other parts) and it is as good as new.

    I gotta say, they do a pretty decent job on repairs. I dont remember what fixing the imac cost me, but they'll fix EVERYTHING thats wrong on a laptop for $280 flat fee. I had a logic board replaced, they gave me a new battery, new optical drive.

    Anyway, that is the end of my saga. Thank you, everyone who posted. Even though i couldnt fix this mess myself, i really appreciate everyone who took the time to lend me their thoughts.


  13. Fishrrman macrumors G5


    Feb 20, 2009
    "I gotta say, they do a pretty decent job on repairs. I dont remember what fixing the imac cost me, but they'll fix EVERYTHING thats wrong on a laptop for $280 flat fee. I had a logic board replaced, they gave me a new battery, new optical drive"

    Regarding the "flat fee fix" option -- did they offer that to you, or did you have to request it?

    Just wondering -- which Apple store did you take it to? (state)
    Considering the problem, the cost was reasonable. With a hardware problem like that, you weren't going to be able to resolve it by yourself.... :)
  14. julianabr thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    flat fee repair

    I'm in California and was at the Santa Monica store. They brought it up for my first sick laptop, and then I figured it would be worth it to spend on my other one which had some major issues, so I asked for it the second time. I was able to do a double hand-me-down with two laptops for my kids for school. Nobody griped about getting an "old" laptop because everything was working, and practically new. Much better price point than getting whole new laptops.

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