Unhappy Powerbook G4

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by PietC, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. PietC macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2008

    I'd really appreciate some help! I'm a PC user (sorry!) but a couple of days ago my cousin asked me to help with her 1.33GHz 12" G4 Powerbook (Leopard OS) saying, "It just sort of stopped working".

    I think there may be some liquid damage (slight corrosion on the memory edge connector) but, in general, I can't get past the Apple logo and spinning wheel.

    Things that do work:

    - I can enter single-user mode and perform fsck -fy. This usually reports that the Volume Macintosh HD appears to be OK, although I sometimes get "File system was modified2, after which I repeat until all's clear.

    - I can force it into verbose mode from the command terminal. Usually I get a screen full of "postEvent LLEventQueue Overflow"with the occasional "disk0s3 i/o error". I also get messages about "AppleUSBHubPort: Port 1 of Hub about to terminate a busy device".

    - I can eject a CD by holding down the touchpad button on start-up.

    - I can force a restart (Ctrl-Opt-Pwr) from the startup screen.

    Things that don't work:

    - I can't start in safe mode.

    - I can't boot from CD (holding down C on startup has no effect).

    - I can't get a start drive option (holding down the Option key on startup has no effect).

    My priority is to recover data from her disk, so I have the following questions:

    - I don't have a Firewire cable but am ready to buy one. Am I likely to be able to start in Target mode once I've connected to a good Mac or, given the above symptoms, is this a vain hope?

    - Is there anything else I can try before I follow the IFixIt guide to disembowel the HD and mount it in a 2.5" USB external enclosure?

    Sorry for the long post - I'd be grateful for any advice! happy New Year.


  2. fteoath64 macrumors regular


    Nov 16, 2008
    You are on to the simplest and surest way to get data off that drive. Extract it from the machine, then put that in a USB2 or Firewire enclosure. Mount that off another Mac (it likely use HPS file system for forget connecting that to a windows PC). But any Mac running OSX will be able to read it, then copy that data to a fresh drive (disk are cheap these days and buy 2 while you are at it). As for the machine, water damage is very difficult to detemine the damage extent. Best if you have time and determination, parts from eBay and start replacing one thing at a time, starting with the CD/DVD drive, then maybe the keyboard. Last ditch would be the logic board (thats a tricky one to undertake but doable with patience). Best of luck.

    If it is too much trouble, sell it for parts in eBay for a couple of hundred or so. A new MacBook can be had for under a grand, and used ones/refurb are way cheaper.
  3. PietC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2008
    Story so far...

    Thanks, fteoath64, for your advice. I've taken the plunge and followed the excellent IFixIt guide to HDD removal - a bit nerve-wracking, but not too difficult. I now have the HD in a USB2 enclosure, waiting for my friend with a Mac to come round so I can try to read the data.

    Fingers crossed and I'll report back!
  4. tsvb macrumors 6502

    Jan 28, 2006
    Syracuse, NY
    Do you have another Mac? Can you try booting into target disk mode?
  5. PietC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2008

    Hi -

    My friend turned up with his Mac and we tried to reads the data off the HDD in its USB2 enclosure. Unfortunately, it recognized the drive but wouldn't read anything off it, so I think I've probably had it. Strange that fsck reported that the drives appeared OK, but I don't know enough about Macs to investigate further.

    I'm now regretting not having bought a replacement HDD today, since I now have a disembowelled machine. Although I'm not too optimistic, if the only fault was a damaged HDD, then I may be able to get it started with a new drive ... although my inability to boot from the CD drive by holding down C while booting isn't too good a sign.

    I'll hit the shop when it opens after New Year - and in the meantime, any further advice would be great!

  6. PietC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2008
    Data Recovery?

    Being curious, I connected the Mac HDD to my PC and downloaded a utility (UFS Explorer) that's able to read the HFS+ format.

    It looks as though the disk isn't completely fried, as I can see a lot of the disk structure and most of the top level folders have files and sub-folders within them. I'm guessing that any user files are in the folder Users/<Username>/Documents or /Music etc. I can get down to this level, but when I try to open the lower level folders, they appear empty. This may be because I'm using a trial version of the software (although I don't think this is the case), but I suspect that there may be a problem with the disc indexing system, which is what was stopping the Mac from reading the files.

    I really am at the edge of my knowledge and experience now - so I'd be really grateful if anyone can give me any pointers on how to go about recovering the data - happy to start a new thread if this would be better.

    Many thanks,

  7. macrem macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2008
    In your situation, I'd try to recover the files by mounting the HDD from Linux. Here are some HFS+ mounting instrux, which in theory could be done from a USB Linux distro if you don't want to install Linux on a partition of your PC's HDD. There are free recovery tools on *nix like ddrescue**. If you can copy /Users/* from your friend's drive over to a good drive, that should allow her to recover everything important.

    **btw, tools like ddrescue, if not already ported to OS X could be run on OS X with Macports or Fink, but I assume you do not have access to a working Mac that you could spend considerable time experimenting with. Try googling HD+freezer

    EDIT: PS I have read that if a failing HDD is not accessibile, putting it in the freezer awhile, then trying again while its cold helps.
  8. chadamorrill macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    You can always try Knoppix (google it, if you're not familiar).

    Also, you may not be able to see the data in the user folders on your Windows machine due to permissions.
  9. PietC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2008
    Many thanks for your suggestions, Macrem and chadamorrill. I think you're spot on and you've steered me down another path of investigation.

    I've recently started to dabble with Ubuntu Linux and have a disto (Hardy Heron) on my PC, so I booted into that and connected the Mac drive in its USB enclosure - it mounted immediately and I was able to browse the file structure from the desktop - yippee! So it looks as though I'm back to the original diagnosis of a good HDD and faulty Mac, although I can't explain why my friend's Mac wasn't able to read it (also permissions??).

    Anyhow - I'm now up against the permissions issue as the Ubuntu browser tels me that I can't open the Documents folder, for example, as I don't have the necessary permissions.

    Therefore, my next question is: can some kind person please give me an idiot's guide to mounting the drive in such a way as to overcome the permissions? Please be fairly explicit as I'm not familiar with Linux - I can just about get into Terminal mode, but that's about it!

    Many thanks for your friendly and helpful advice so far.
  10. PietC thread starter macrumors newbie

    Dec 31, 2008
    Happy Cousin!

    Well - after a couple of hours' happy Googling and lots of unsuccessful attempts, I've now managed to copy the important files (documents and photos) onto my Linux home drive, and changed the owner properties, so I can now see about 2GB of photos. Guess I need to have a word with her about backing up!

    Very many thanks to all who helped and inspired me to carry on.

    So now I'm left with the dodgy Powerbook. I'll get a replacement HDD anyhow, although I don't now think that was the original problem, then reassemble and hope for a restart/reinstall. I may be back for more advice depending on how far I get!

    thanks again.
  11. macrem macrumors 65816


    Mar 11, 2008
    Glad to hear it works. It sounds like you figured out the permissions thing too. Otherwise off the top of my head the quickest solution would be to use the sudo command to escalate permissions, e.g.:

    sudo cp -fr /{mac-HDD-mount-path}/Users/* ~/Desktop/macbackup/
  12. chadamorrill macrumors 6502

    Sep 13, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Glad you got it!

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