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G4 Boot up issues...

rurth24
rurth24 asked
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Last Modified: 2013-11-17
Here is the basic problem is somebody can help.
We have a G4 that won't start. I think it was running OS 9. It's old obviously. We are trying to get it up to date.

Everytime we boot it, we get a gray screen with a flashing questionmark within a disk icon.

Now, we trying putting in a disk utility program and it boots to the disk but we get a error type 10 and have to restart. I'm  not a mac tech expert but I haven't really found anything online about fixing the problem yet.

Any experts here have a clue? I downloaded the latest firmware update but how do I install it if I can't get the computer to start?

Any help would be great. We have an identical G4 that works fine. We even swapped that computers memory, graphics cards, and everything else we could figure out might be the problem but it seems to be a harddisk problem or OS problem.
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Commented:
The flashing question mark means that the computer can't find a valid system to start from.

One possibility is that the PRAM (parameter RAM), which stores the startup information, is corrupted. If that is the problem, doing a cold boot while holding down the command-option-p-r key combination until the computer chimes three times might solve your problem.

If that doesn't work, and you don't have the original system software, you could try hooking the two G4's together using a firewire cable, then boot the problem G4 using Target Disk Mode:  http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=58583

This will result in the G4 you are having problems with essentially running as an external hard drive for the good G4. The hard drive of the bad G4 should show up as an icon on the desktop of the good G4.

Once you have accomplished that, find Disk First Aid on the hard drive of the good Mac (click on the desktop, type command-f and do a search for "Disk First Aid") and use it to try to repair the drive on the bad G4. Then see if the bad G4 will boot normally.

Author

Commented:
Will a cross-over cable work? We don't have a firewire cable that 6pin to 6pin.

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Part II ---

If the bad G4 still doesn't boot normally, then connect the two computers again using Target Disk Mode.

If the icon for the bad G4's hard drive has the same name as the good G4's hard drive, you can tell them apart because the top one will be the boot drive, in this case the new G4.

Double click on the hard drive icon for the bad G4. Find the System Folder. Rename it to "Old System Folder". Double click on the Old System Folder. Inside you will find a file called "Finder". Drag the Finder file out onto the desktop. Rename it "Old Finder".

Now open the hard drive icon for the good G4 and drag and drop the system file from the good G4 onto the icon for the hard drive of the bad G4. This will copy the system folder from the good G4 to the bad G4.

After the copying is completed, you will have to "bless" the copied system folder. To do this open hard drive icon for the old G4. Double click on the System Folder to open it. Drag and drop the Finder file onto the desktop again. This time, though, just close the System Folder and drag and drop the Finder file onto the CLOSED System Folder. This should "bless" the system folder and the system folder icon should change from a generic folder icon to the special system folder icon.

Exit from Target Disk mode by first shutting down the new G4, then remove the firewire cable and reboot the old G4 while holding down the shift key. With any luck it should now boot.
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Cross over cable won't work. You will have to buy a firewire cable.

Author

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Here is another issue. The good G4 is running OS 10. Will that be a problem if they are running different OS's?

Author

Commented:
I tried this:

"One possibility is that the PRAM (parameter RAM), which stores the startup information, is corrupted. If that is the problem, doing a cold boot while holding down the command-option-p-r key combination until the computer chimes three times might solve your problem."

and the computer just would restart and restart and restart. No chimes. Just the opening Apple sound then restart.
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That opening Apple sound is what I meant by the "chime". If that doesn't solve the problem and you don't have a software install CD, then I think the firewire cable is your only reasonable solution.

The firewire cable is not a bad investment, because it gives you a good way to solve any future problems you might have. Firewire Target Disk Mode is a very powerful tool.

Author

Commented:
Okay. I'm going to see if I have a cable at home first. If I don't then will purchase one. Thanks and I'll get back to you tomorrow to let you know how I did.
If the machine which is booting is in OS X, then you won't be able to just drag and drop the OS X system folders - but if there is a folder called "System Folder" (not a folder called "System") that is an OS 9 folder that you can copy over in the way strung suggests.

As strung suggests, FireWire Target Disk Mode is your only way forward without an OS 9 install CD.

Regards

Sean
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Commented:
MacAssist is correct.

However, even if there is no OS 9 system folder on the OS X Mac, at least you can run Disk First Aid. The OS X version of Disk First Aid is called "Disk Utility" and it is in the Applications:Utilities folder.

Commented:
Hi,

Do you have anything important in the OS9 machine.

If you only have 1 drive,
You can plug out the harddisk and plug into your other good working set as a 2nd drive (See tutorial below how to) and transfer the data out. or

you may as what is mentioned by strung
rename the problem System Folder in the 2nd drive as "Old System Folder" and copy the good System Folder over bless it by opening the system folder and shutdown. Unplug the Disk back to its original G4. Startup and see everythig work.

You may also do the data backup using an external USB casing to house it and transfer the necessary data out to the good one.

or you may just go ahead and get a new harddisk and reinstall everything and plug the spare disk as a 2nd disk and keep everything intact. Make sure you reseat ram module etc.
A clean install should clear your problem. Update your firmware.

http://www.tutorials.com/06/0651/0651.asp 
Learn2 Install a Second Hard Drive (Macintosh G3/G4)




Author

Commented:
Okay so I don't have a firewire cable at home. That leaves us in a jam for the moment.

I did try imacgouf's idea.

Got the 2nd harddive to mount. Used Disk Utility on it and repaired it. I also copied the Mac OS10 (system folder9) over to the old mac drive. Renamed the old system folder to (old system folder).

I placed the drive back into the old machine and I still get a questionmark. Didn't work.

My next step is to wipe it. My next question would be do I have to find an Old OS9 disk to install before I can jump to OS10? I'm pretty sure the firmware is way out of date.

What are your thoughts.
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Did you remember to "bless" the OS 9 system folder after copying it?

Author

Commented:
Bless it? I said many blessing. None worked.
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To bless the system folder, you drag the finder file our of the system folder onto the desktop. Then you CLOSE the system folder and drag and drop the finder file back onto the CLOSED system folder so that the system folder icon changes from the generic folder icon to the special system folder icon.

If the system folder is not "blessed" the computer will not recognize it as a valid system folder.

You could also try resetting the PRAM again. Sometimes that will rebless a system folder. If it doesn't try sticking the drive back in the other G4 and bless it manually there.

Author

Commented:
I just formatted the drive. It's blank now.

Should I try it again and bless the System Folder?
I'd suggest trying again and blessing the folder - you can also bless it by just opening the System Folder so the machine can see both the Finder file and the System file can be seen to be inside the folder. If the System Folder doesn't have the blue Mac OS "two-face" icon over the folder icon, it isn't blessed.

Regards

Sean
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You could also use a program called Carbon Copy Cloner from http://www.bombich.com to clone the drive from your good G4 to the blank drive. However, you should then purchase a copy of Mac OS X to avoid running illegal software.

Author

Commented:
I don't think the Carbon Copy Cloner will work cause the firmware isn't up to date.

Okay so I connected the drives again.

I'm in OS10 right now. I see the secone Harddrive mounted.

I took the OS 9 System Folder and dragged it into the second harddrive. Copied
I know it's the OS9 System folder cause it says 9 on the folder icon.

Now I followed the directions above by dragging the finder icon out onto the desktop and then closing the folder then dragging it back onto the system folder. Nothing happened. I don' t see any change in icon.

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The icon might not change when you are booted in OS X, but nevertheless, the system folder should now be blessed.

How old is your G4? You might not necessarily need a firmware upgrade. See:  http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=86117

Author

Commented:
It's old...

It's a Power Mac G4 (AGP Graphics) There seems to be a firmware update.

Okay so I'm going to take at the old G4 drive and re-install it into the machine and boot it up. Is there any other things I should do before hand?
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Just a thought -- before you take the drive out of the new G4, see if you can boot the new G4 from it. Reboot the new G4 holding down the option key. The Boot Chooser should come up and give you a choice of bootable drives. If drive 2 shows up with a valid OS 9 system folder on it, choose it and see if the new G4 boots from it.

That way we can determine if the problem is a hardware problem with the old G4.

Author

Commented:
Nope... only one icon appeared and that was for the OSX
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Okay, I guess the problem is that the OS 9 system folder on the new G4 is only sufficient for use in Classic, and is not a fully bootable system folder.

So, you are going to somehow find an OS 9 bootable CD.  I assume you don't have any of the original CD's for either G4?

If not, you may have to order an OS 9.
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If not, you may have to order an OS 9.0 or 9.1 boot CD.

You might be able to pick one up on eBay, but be very carefull to make sure what you purchase is a full commercial install CD and not an OEM CD from another Mac. OEM CD's will work only with the specific model they came with.
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You might be able to buy a bootable CD here:

http://shrevesystems.com/software.html

or from one of the used Mac dealers here:  http://lowendmac.com/dealers/index.shtml

Author

Commented:
We do have a Bootable OS 9.0.4 Disk. We got it along time ago for a Mac Tech.
Once I formatted the drive the boot disk was able to bootup.

Should I take the system folder from that and do the same thing? Copy and bless?
Also there is a Ulitities folder in there. Should I copy that over as well.

Author

Commented:
Should I boot it up on the New Machine or reinstall the drive to the old machine?
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If you get a bootable CD, re-install the drive on the old machine and boot it from the CD by holding down the c key. Then install OS 9 from the installer and upgrade the firmware.

Author

Commented:
The Bootable CD isn't an Installer.. I think it's more of a Utilities Disk. It has a System Folder but there is no Installer. It has alot of other apps on it as well. It was given to use for that very purpose to help us fix the machine.

It does have a Systems Folder.... and Utilities Folder... Should I copy them over and try to Bless?
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You could try. It's hard to say whether what is on the CD is sufficient to boot from a hard drive, but it is worth a shot.

Delete the existing OS 9 system folder from the old drive first.

I would suggest however, that you leave the hard drive from the old G4 in the new G4. Insert the CD, but don't boot from it. Try copying the entire contents of the CD to the old drive while booted in OS X. This is because there may be a problem trying to copy a system folder while booted from it.

Once you have the system folder copied, reboot from the CD and bless the system folder on the hard drive, then reboot holding down option and see if the OS 9 system is now recognized.

Not the solution you were looking for? Getting a personalized solution is easy.

Ask the Experts
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I am going for lunch. Back in an hour.

Author

Commented:
Thanks for the help by the way.

Okay so I blessed the system and it worked... I rebooted and in the bootup the olddrive finally came up as a bootable option.

I just reintalled it into the old drive and crossed my fingers.  NO GO.

I got a error saying that it will only work on the orginial media and can not be copied over to another drive.

DAMMMMNNN... SOOO CLOSE.

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I am afraid you are going to have to buy an OS 9 or 9.1 installer CD.

Author

Commented:
LOL... That's what I thought...

Damnnn
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One more thought. Assuming the old HD is still in the new G4, download the firmware update to the old hard drive. Put the old hard drive back into the old G4. Boot the old G4 using the emergency boot CD you have. Then install the firmware while booted from the CD. This will then enable you to install OS X on the old G4.

Author

Commented:
I'll give it a try...

Author

Commented:
Hey Strung.. It looks like I'm going to need a CD.

The bootable CD is 9.0.4. You need at least 9.1 to update the firmware.

Oh well thanks again.

Author

Commented:
If you know of any place we can grab a 9.1 install disc lmk.. Thanks.
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What a frustration!

Author

Commented:
Don't you know it...
I work with PC's and windows but this is a pain.
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You are going to have to check with the vendor as to whether this is an OEM disk that came with a particular Mac (in which case it will install only on a similar model) or whether this is a commercial OS 9.0.4 CD which will universally install on any Mac that supports OS 9.
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Send me an e-mail: jdstrung@cogeco.ca

Commented:
Hi rurth24

You can this:
Plug back your old Harddrive to the good G4, boot up by pressing shift to turn off all extensions during bootup and copy the whole system folder from the good one over to the 2nd drive. You may copy everything over. Make sure newly copied system folder is blessed.

Don't plug out the haddisk yet, change the startup drive to the 2nd disk and reboot. If it boots properly then you ready to place it back to its original G4. Change the Jumper back before putting it back.

hope this helps.

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Ryan, did you get a working OS 9 CD? If not, send me an e-mail. I may be able to help:  jdstrung@cogeco.ca

-- John

Author

Commented:
Hey john,

Just got back into the office.
Luckly my Dad had an old 9.1 disk laying around.  I should get it any day now. I'll fill you in as soon as I get it.

Thanks imacgouf... I think I'm just going to wait till my 9.1 disk shows up. If that doesn't work then I'll try you suggestion.
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Good luck.

Author

Commented:
Hey John (Strung),

Got the 9.1 install disk and everything went smoothly. We are just waiting on the newest OS disk to upgrade to Tiger.

Thanks again for all the help.
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Commented:
You might consider whether to clone the drive from the other G4 to save having to set things up all over again.
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