iMac won't install from CD

I have an iMac that has some serious problems with the file system.  So I want to reinstall the OS.  However, every time I put in the OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard CD (the one with the picture of the snow leopard on the box) it spits it out.  
I slide the disk in and turn on the iMac holding down the C key.  It won't take it right away and the white light comes on.  I keep gently pushing in the CD but it doesn't take it right away.  After a couple taps it does take it, the white light goes away, and it sounds like it wants to start up from the CD....but doesn't.  It just spits it out.   The same is happening with my Disk Warrior CD.

Any ideas would be helpful.  Thanks
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RizznutAuthor Commented:
Also, after it spits it out the fans turn on high and the screen stays black.
Macs won't boot from an OED DVD that came with a different model Mac, or a full retail DVD with a system that is older than the one the Mac shipped with.

Is your DVD black or grey? If it is grey, it is an OED DVD from a Mac. Is it the one that came with your Mac? If not, it won't work.

If it is a black full retail DVD, you still need to know if it is older or newer than the system your Mac shipped with. What is your exact model and do you know what system it shipped with?
You can boot the machine holding the option key, then insert the disc to find out if the machine sees it as a bootable volume at all. That might narrow down your problem a little bit.
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RizznutAuthor Commented:
So I got the Tiger CD (Black with the big X on it) and it still won't boot to it.  
White light with black screen for 2-3 minutes and then the fans run high.

I've tried a bunch of different key function upon boot up to try and get some response from this thing (ie:  Command-Option-Shift-Delete, Command + Option + O + F, Command, Option, P, and R)  it just spits out the CD.

RizznutAuthor Commented:
i got it to boot, but not to the CD.  I got this message on the screen.  I hear the chime too.
Any help is appreciated.
Rizznut, what year is your iMac? I don't see it listed in the question anywhere.

If you're not sure or can't figure it out, post the first 5 of the serial number, should be on the bottom of the base. Sometimes I can tell from that. If you can't get the serial, is the machine case aluminum with aluminum or black back, or all white plastic?

An iMac that shipped with an OS newer than Tiger won't be able to boot to that disc.
You have to hold down the C key to boot from the CD.

The error message you got was a kernel panic.

RizznutAuthor Commented:
it's a A1145 built between Oct 12, 2005 - Jan 10, 2006.  It's the white 20".
I have tested the HD which came back fine.  I then removed the RAM and now I'm getting
this error.  This thing is all over the place.  I sometimes get the chime and the apple logo with no white light.  Other times the white light is on and it's a black screen.
I thought the Black X Tiger CD would work :/
That Mac shipped with 10.4.2, so it is possible that it will not boot with 10.4.0 which I presume is on the CD.

Should boot with a black 10.5 CD.

I am not sure I understand what you mean when you say you removed the RAM. Are you trying to boot a computer that has no RAM?
RizznutAuthor Commented:
The CD is the black 10.4.  And says it came with 10.4.2.  So I would think that would work.
But I can't get it to book to Tech Tool or Disk Warrior.  I read some where that it could be the battery??  It comes with 512MB installed and then another slot for an additional 512.  That's the stick I pulled.
A machine that shipped with 10.4.2 will not boot from a 10.4.0 disk.

Sometimes on those older machines, booting even to a perfectly-good disk can be troublesome.

If you have access to another mac with FireWire you can connect the two, boot the failing machine in Target Disk Mode (holding down the T key while booting.) This will mount the drive on the other Mac and at this point you can run Disk Utility, reformat the drive, etc.

In my experience using Target Disk Mode has worked more often than booting to a CD when dealing with troublesome hard drives.
RizznutAuthor Commented:
I was able to format the HD via Target Mode.  But it still won't boot to the CD.
Is there a way to install it via Target Disk Mode?
Insert the CD in the other computer and tell it to install on the target disk
RizznutAuthor Commented:
It says 10.4 can not be installed on this machine.  Yet it came with 10.4.  
Not sure what to do now?
You need a newer OS disk. The statement that it wouldn't boot with a disk older than it shipped with should've been appended to say you can't install an older version than it shipped with. You can purchase snow leopard discs from still I believe. That or find a leopard disk as strunq said.
RizznutAuthor Commented:
I tried Snow Leopard 10.6.3 but it gets spit out too.  Should I find a 10.5 disk?
You may be able to boot the other Mac to the snow leopard installer disk while your problem Mac is connected to it also via target disk mode and install it that way?
RizznutAuthor Commented:
got the OS X Leopard 10.5 and held down the C key and it spit it out.  put it back in and rebooted and held down command, option, shift delete - i can hear it spinning and then I get a little folder and a flashing ? and the old smily face. And then it spits the disk out.

how do i push the leopard install in target disk mode to the broken Mac when it's in the good Mac??
Been awhile since I've done it but see if you can do this:

good machine, booted normally, insert disk and open up-double-click to run the installer.

then you should get to a point where you can choose the blank drive.

however you would need to format the blank drive first as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) in disk utility.

will that work?
RizznutAuthor Commented:
kepgnar, that worked except that I got a error msg after it started the install.  I'm not sure how far along but it was definitely installing when I left.

Install Failed.  Mac OS X could not be installed on this machine.
The installer could not install some files in "/volume/untitled"
Contact the software manufacture.

going to reformat the drive and run it again.
if it keeps failing after you reformat I would say the drive is probably bad.
Getting into that machine may not be too difficult.
If it's the one that opens from the back it should just be some screws along the bottom.
RizznutAuthor Commented:
did the reformat and same issue.  Will try a new drive tomorrow.
RizznutAuthor Commented:
same problem with a brand new hard drive.  It won't boot to cd and fails during the installation when I run it via Target Disk.
man. I think I'm stumped. It's possible that machine requires a machine-specific OS disk but not likely.

You did format the new drive accordingly correct?

Is all this happening with your 10.6 retail dvd also?

If you have a drive sled you could always try imaging the drive with an OS then installing the drive in the iMac?

Maybe there's just an easy step that was missed along the way, doesn't make much sense that it wouldn't work with a new drive.
RizznutAuthor Commented:
i too am stumped.  It won't load 10.4 10.5 or 10.4.  It won't load Disk Warrior either.
I connected the new HD via USB to my good mac and formatted it.  No issues there.  I just don't get it.
RizznutAuthor Commented:
could it be as simple as a faulted DVD player?
it could be that but haven't you used 2 different optical drives at this point?
RizznutAuthor Commented:
yes I guess I have. :(
RizznutAuthor Commented:
Giving up on this one.

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RizznutAuthor Commented:
can't get it to install.  Tried multiple installation CD's, Target Disk install and a new HD.  Giving up.
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