Getting Folder with Question Mark on Boot - How to boot from an external CD-ROM?

I've never worked on a MAC before, but I have a G4 PowerBook that when turned on goes straight to a screen with a Folder that has a question mark.  From what I read this means the boot loader or OS is corrupt.  I placed the restore disks in the unit.  It seems that the unit will not read the CD.  I took the hard drive out and placed into another machine, so I know it's okay, but I'm not sure about the internal CD drive.  Is it possible to boot to an External CD-ROM drive.  I only have a USB, but I have been advised that I will need a Firewire.  Any help or pointers would be appreciated.

Regards -

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Andrew DuffyTechnical Services CoordinatorCommented:
I'm guessing you're holding down C to boot from the CD when the powerbook starts up? Does the CD spin up when it's inserted? Another thing you could try is to hold down the option key (alt) when the machine turns on / reboots, and you should get a blue screen showing bootable systems available.

The alternative is that you borrow another Mac. You can then boot the powerbook in target mode (hold down T on startup until you get a firewire logo) and it will act like an external drive. You can then plug this into the other Mac and install a system onto the drive.

Good luck - let us know how you get on.
A couple of other things you could try:

1. Reset the PRAM (parameter RAM) by cold booting while holding down the Command-Option-p-r key combination until the computer chimes three times, then release.

2. Boot from the OS X install CD by booting while holding down the c key. But once it boots, instead of choosing "install", look for "Disk Utility" in one of the menues (which menu varies with which version of OS X). In Disk Utility, go to the Disk First Aid tab, highlight your hard drive and select Repair.
elctech45Author Commented:
Okay the PowerBook is now booting to the OS X CD.  I ran the Repair Disk Permissions and Repair Disk.  On the Repair Disk it says that it repaired the HFS volume.  It also said that another volume could not be repaired.  In looking at the logs it says "Invalid leaf record count"  "it should be 0 instead of 205"I have no idea what means.  Anyways after running that it still won't boot, so the leaf count must be important?

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The log entry means that something is corrupted on the volume in question. However, I am puzzled that repair disk would find two volumes to repair as your powerbook has only one drive. Do you know if someone partitioned the drive at some point?

What are the two volumes called? That might give us some clue.

Did you try booting holding down the option key as in-effect suggested? If so, what volumes show up when you do that?

Did you try resetting the PRAM as I suggested?
elctech45Author Commented:
It does not appear to be partitioned.  

I did as suggested and here are the results -

1. PRAM Reset - Reset the system, but did not resolve my issue.
2. Held down C key and started booting from CD - Ran Disk Repair and Disk Permission Repair.
3. Held down the alt key and only saw the OS X Install CD and Hardware Diagnostics.
4. I don't have another system, but I'm working on getting a friend over with one.

Is it possible just run the install of OX X over the top to repair the corrupted file?

It would be unwise to do a re-install until you have got to the bottom of the disk directory corruption problem. It is not a corrupted file, but a corruption of the disk directory. Re-installing OS X will not correct that.  

There are only two ways to solve the disk directory corruption problem.

1. Buy a high powered third party disk repair utility (Disk Warrior is considered the best, see: ).

2. The other alternative is to re-initialize the corrupted volume using Disk Utility, but that means that the volume will be completely erased and you will lose everthing on it.

If you decide to go route 2 and there is data on the corrupted volume that you want to recover, you should find someone else with a Mac, connect the two Macs using Firewire Target Disk Mode ( ) and recover your data first.

I am still curious about the fact that Disk First Aid reported two volumes. Can you tell me what the two volumes are called? This could be important. It may tell you whether there is anything on the corrupted volume worth saving.

Finally, if you have OS 10.3 or later, Disk First Aid also has a notification in the bottom right hand corner showing the S.M.A.R.T. status of the drive which will tell you if your problem is a mechanical failure of the drive. See:

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elctech45Author Commented:
I only see one Volume, but the log claims that "Repair attempted on 2 Volumes"  1 HFS volume wsa repaired.  1 volume could on be repaired.  The only light I might be able to shed on that is that my friend went from OS X Panther to OS X Tiger.  Don't know if that would have created another Volume or not in my limited knowledge of MAC/OS X.

The volume I see is called mona_lisa HD.  The only other item displayed is the PowerBook Software.  Not sure if it's trying to check that or not.  I'm assuming that the software mentioned would allow me to boot the system and repair the drive outside of OS X?

One last question as it relates to hooking the systems together.  It sounds as though you can backup/image the non booting system so to speak.  Are there any particular folders to focus on? Thanks for all the help!

There are several possibilities.

Disk Warrior will provide you with a bootable CD from which you can repair the drive. If that works, that might be all you need.  If it repairs the drive, but you still can't boot, you could do an archive and install of the system software, see:  This will re-install the system without erasing.

If you can connect the your Mac to another Mac using Target Disk Mode, you could clone your drive to a disk image using the free Carbon Copy Cloner:  Note carefully the system requirements for CCC, though, as they apply to the computer doing the copying.
P.S. Once you have cloned your drive to a disk image, you could then re-initialize the drive using Disk First Aid. This will eliminate the disk directory corruption by creating a new disk directory. You could then copy the disk image back to your powerbook. Whether or not this will allow you to boot depends on the extent that the system was scrambled by the directory corruption. If you still can't boot, then do the archive and install.

I wonder whether the "two volume problem" rel;ates to the fact that HFS+ volumes actually have a HFS "wrapper" volume which then has the HFS+ data effectively inside it - this is how you see the "What happened to all my data" file when you connect a HFS+ drive onto a pre-8.1 system.

In that case, it might be seeing the HFS data and repairing it, but unable to repair the HFS+ data "inside" it.

If that's the case, I would try DiskWarrior, as it's so good at fixing problems, but I'd do that after cloning as strung has suggested. You could then re-initialise the drive (which should recreate the HFS wrapper and HFS+ partition) and reclone back onto it from the previously done clone.

strung's comments about not-re-installing until you get to the cause of the directory problem are exteremly important - the disk directory is the file (actually the collection of files) which describes all of the other files on the disk - where they are, what size they are, their attributes (including name) - if you just try and install a new OS X system on this drive, the corrupted directory will not be corrected, but may well continue to affect the operation of this machine. These files are invisible, and you need to use something like Disk Utility, DiskWarrior, TechTool, etc to repair it - we know Disk Utility isn't getting anywhere, and I consider DiskWarrior to be the premier disk directory repair/rebuild utility there is for the Mac.

Hope that's of use in shedding light on the 2 volumes issue (and re-iterating how much good advice strung has given!)

Thanks, Sean, that was helpful. My thinking was that someone had perhaps put TechTool Pro on the drive and created a small E-Volume to boot it from. But your explanation is more likely.
elctech45Author Commented:
I didn't have access to either of the mentioned utilities.  I performed a copy of the system for good karma and then reinstalled over the top using the Archive and Install option.  At this point all data is in tact, but that doesn't mean that there could be an underlying issue that may come back to bite me.  What my plan of action is to let my friend take the system and comb through it to see if there are any issues.  In the mean time I'm ordering DiskWarrior to repair any issues that I may not have inherently corrected.  I will perform a repair and then re-init the drive.  After that I plan to upgrade from the current version 10.39 to Tiger to make certain that all files get updated and current.  Let me know if this is what you would recommend.  Just is an FYI I have asked my friend to not make any major changes or install anything until we can make sure that the system is stable.  I never thought I would say this but I "might" be converted to MAC.  Hold that thought as I want to see how this goes.  It is really a nice OS even though it was a bit challenging compared to my PC experience.  The file system storage is WAY different and not sure the logic behind it, but it make sense in comparison to say Solaris or any *ix OS (Linux, Unix, etc)

If DW repairs the drive, there is no need to re-initialize.  On the other hand, if you re-initialize, there is no need for DW. Either should fix the disk directory problem unless you have a mechanical problem with the drive.  The advantage of DW is that it can probably fix the drive without the necessity of initializing and re-installing.

You should suggest to your friend that he or she use the computer as little as possible until you have the disk directory problem sorted out.

You should also check the S.M.A.R.T. status as I suggested before doing anything to rule out mechanical problems with the drive (which would necessitate a drive replacment).

By the way, you should run "repair permissions" while booted from the hard drive, not while booted from the CD. Running Repair Permissions from the CD will result in the wrong permissions.
elctech45Author Commented:
S.M.A.R.T. shows all is well from a mechanical perspective.  

Thanks for everyone's input.  It's funny in that I have posted many questions in various areas and the one system I least use I get the most support .... Could be time for a change ... lol

Thanks Again -

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