View Full Version : Accessing External Drives In Single-User Mode

05-23-2005, 05:45 PM
I'm running OS/X 10.3.9. I was attempting to fix a corrupted font problem that was causing Word to hang on launch and ended up with a system which won't get to the desktop upon start-up unless the installation disk is in. I can however, boot into single-user mode so I can ls, cat etc. but my command line days are in the distant past. I need to backup some files to an external drive(Iomega USB 80G HDD), but can't find the drive. Where should I be looking?

05-23-2005, 07:04 PM
You will need to "mount" the external drive as described in this other thread:
I think there also have been some articles on the main macosxhints site about this, so maybe try searching there. Possible keywords: single-user mount

But it seems very strange to me that a mere corrupted font would cause you to lose the ability to startup the system. Perhaps you want to tell us more about the problem?

I assume that when you say that it is necessary that "the installation disk is in", you mean that you are booting from the Install CD by holding down the C key after the chime. The mere existence of the Install CD in the drive should not normally change anything.

And you need to distinguish between being able to startup the system and being able to log in to your account. Perhaps you have it set up to automatically log you in. This is undesirable when troubleshooting since it makes it more difficult to see where the problem is.

Have a look at this Apple doc on startup problems:

05-23-2005, 07:46 PM
Hayne, I think the issue is that he can't get to his *desktop*, i.e. the system boots fine but is set to auto-login and hangs at that point. I have definitely seen a bad font do that in OS 10.3.

Sandourtech, if the bad font is installed in your home directory (it's only available to your user) try this:
1. Boot to single user mode
2. Type 'cd /Users/userName/Library', replacing userName with your user's short name.
3. Type 'mv Fonts Fonts.old'
4. Type 'shutdown -r now'

The system will restart. When it boots back up, it will no longer attempt to load the fonts in your user directory, because they have all been moved to a new folder. You can then go into that folder (~/Library/Fonts.old) and move back the ones that are ok. I would re-import them using Font Book, which I believe will check for corrupt fonts as you do this.

05-23-2005, 08:40 PM
I think the issue is that he can't get to his *desktop*, i.e. the system boots fine but is set to auto-login and hangs at that point.
One of the things that the above Apple doc explains is how to disable the auto-boot. That is the first thing that should be done in order to better understand the problem.

By the way, your instructions for moving the Fonts folder missed one crucial step - making the internal drive writable. By default it is read-only in single-user mode and so you need to do:
/sbin/mount -uw /

05-24-2005, 09:56 AM
Doh! I knew I was leaving something out, couldn't remember what. :-D

It's worth noting for future reference that in 10.4, a Safe Mode boot now disables all fonts except those in /System/Library/Fonts. Should make troubleshooting easier in the future, that's for sure.