I mostly work on PCs but have done some work on Macs so I took this client. He brought me a graphite iMac G3 with 256 MB RAM and OS X 10.3 Panther complaining that he could not get the modem to dial. The first thing I noticed was odd was that when I turned it on, it took about 6-8 minutes (every time) to boot up the OS. It would just show the gray apple and the spinning wheel and then finally go to color and login. Despite this dragging, it operated fairly quickly once started.
Once booted, The Ethernet connection worked great but the modem would not dial. I zapped the PRAM, troubleshot the modem settings, and upon recommendation from Apple's web site, attempted to reinstall Panther.
When I insert the Panther CD 1, it shows on the desktop and I click "Install OS x" and it asks to restart the computer. Done. But all it would do is bring up the gray apple screen and the spinning wheel and sit there. So, I tried rebooting holding down C. Same thing. Rebooting and holding option: the HD and the CD show up and I use the mouse to choose the CD and then even left it overnight but still spinning in the morning. Also tried command-option-o-f and the boot cd tbxi (forget exact syntax, though at the time I typed it exactly as showed on Apple's website) but no booting. Tried that again and got a kernel panic.
Tried various fixes: resetting nvram, reset-all, fsck, which will not repair the drive--says it cannot repair the hard disk, booting to safe mode, and others. Now, I cannot even get into the OS as when I wait the 6-8 minutes for it to boot it now brings up a login screen and when I click the user, it goes to Darwin and prompts for login. I type it and it prompts for password. There is no password so I hit enter.. It says login incorrect. "Login: could not determine audit condition"
I don't have any other Macs to boot from to make this one the target of a clean install over a network or to download any other utllities or make any other boot disks. Is there any way of fixing this?