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Old 08-27-2009, 11:08 AM   #1
tanveers
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Unhappy iMac G4 won't boot - shows blinking folder

Hi Guys,

I need help. I have a iMac G4 800 MHz system. Last night my system was hung - spinning beach ball - and I couldn't click anywhere or do a force quit of the non-responsive applications (Firefox and Mactube). So, I did a power off of the system but when I powered the system back up it would not boot. All I see is the gray/white screen with no apple logo and after a minute a blinking mac folder with a question mark. I don't know what to do. I tried to open the DVD drive but since it was not responding to the keyboard eject button, I manually propped it open put in my Tiger DVD and while powering up held the 'c' key but it won't boot from the DVD.

What could be wrong and how can I fix this dreadful issue?
Thanks!
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:08 PM   #2
trevor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tanveers
All I see is the gray/white screen with no apple logo and after a minute a blinking mac folder with a question mark.

That means that the computer cannot find any valid volume to boot from.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanveers
I tried to open the DVD drive but since it was not responding to the keyboard eject button, I manually propped it open put in my Tiger DVD and while powering up held the 'c' key but it won't boot from the DVD.

How did you manually prop it open exactly?

What color is your Tiger DVD? It needs to be a black, and it needs to be a Full Install, not an Upgrade disc.

Does this iMac G4 have a DVD drive, or a CD drive?

If you have another Mac, you could try FireWire Target Disk Mode, with your black colored Full Install DVD in the other computer's DVD drive.

Trevor
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Old 08-27-2009, 12:20 PM   #3
tanveers
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It's the white iMac G4. I pulled the outside DVD drive lip and inside I pushed that gray-like button and gently pulled the CD caddy. I have a Tiger install disk but it is a backup copy (lost the original one). The iMac has a DVD drive.

Would booting in the single-user mode (command-s) and then running a full fsck work?
Thanks!
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Old 08-27-2009, 05:58 PM   #4
trevor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tanveers
I have a Tiger install disk but it is a backup copy (lost the original one).

So we don't know if it's a valid bootable disc for this computer anyway. It could be anything.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tanveers
Would booting in the single-user mode (command-s) and then running a full fsck work?

Yes, that is a very good idea.

Trevor
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Old 08-27-2009, 11:03 PM   #5
tanveers
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Thanks, Trevor.

OK, now I am really stumped.

I tried the command-s key sequence but the system won't boot into single user mode. It goes to the blinking folder screen. I also tried resetting the nvram from the firmware prompt but that did not help.

The backup Tiger DVD is a good copy because I recently did a fresh install of Tiger with it. Strange thing is I can eject the CD/DVD drive manually but when I push the caddy back, the system does not suck it in. I have to push it, as far as it can go. However, the system upon reboot won't read the Tiger media. Why is that? Is there any other way of manually pushing the CD/DVD caddy in? Or any command that would let the system suck it in - just like the eject button the mac keyboard would do?

Also, I want to add that, when I turn on the system, I hear a few clank noise - most likely coming from the hard disk.

Please help.
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Old 08-28-2009, 10:07 AM   #6
trevor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tanveers
Strange thing is I can eject the CD/DVD drive manually but when I push the caddy back, the system does not suck it in. I have to push it, as far as it can go.

Most optical drive trays don't 'like' being pushed and pulled. (There are exceptions like the original Bondi iMac G3s, but you don't have one of those you have an iMac G4.) It's possible that the optical drive was already damaged when this problem occurred, or it's possible, I'm sorry to say, that you damaged it when you pulled it open when the power was off.

If it does not read anything, and you have to push and pull it now, I'd guess that your optical drive is broken and will need to be replaced.

Trevor
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Old 08-28-2009, 04:30 PM   #7
tanveers
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Trevor;

Please for my record, tell me how to use the CD/DVD drive when your system is not responding. Apparently the eject button on the keyboard does not work. If you are successful of ejecting the CD tray during power-on (holding down the mouse button) or by any other mean. How can you tell the system to suck the CD back again - after you put in your DVD. Obviously still the eject button won't be working on the keyboard.

This situation would imply even if you are doing a fresh install on a brand new hard disk. Please advice. Thanks!
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Old 08-28-2009, 05:12 PM   #8
trevor
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No, if your system is not responding then the eject button on the keyboard will not work.

The first thing to try in that case is holding down the left mouse button at startup. (If you are still using a single button mouse, then hold down the only button at startup.) Note that this does not work with Bluetooth mice, and some (but not all) other wireless mice, so a wired mouse is the most likely to work in this case.

The reason that this can work when holding down the eject button on your keyboard does not is that the code to eject the optical drive tray when the mouse button is held down on startup is in firmware, so it is working a second or so after the computer is turned on. The code to eject the optical drive tray when you hold down the eject button on your keyboard is in the operating system, so it isn't working until your computer has booted into the OS. If your system is messed up, the eject button on your keyboard will never work, whereas you can make your optical drive tray open with the mouse button even with the hard drive removed from the computer. Usually.

If the mouse button trick doesn't work, then the next trick to try is to boot into your firmware interface. Note that this works on most PPC Macs (the ones that use G3, G4, or G5 processors, except for the very first G3s with beige plastics) but will not work on computers with Intel processors, because they use a much different type of firmware. The PPC Macs use Open Firmware, first developed by Sun Microsystems but released as an open standard. The Intel Macs use EFI, a proprietary system owned by Intel. You can't do this with a computer that uses EFI, or if you can nobody has publicly yet figured out how to do it.

In any event, boot into Open Firmware (on a G3, G4, or G5) by holding down Command-Option-O-F at startup, using a wired keyboard (or at least, not using a Bluetooth keyboard--some wireless keyboards that are not Bluetooth may work). You will boot to a screen that shows dark colored writing on a white background. At the text prompt, type the command

eject cd

...and your optical drive tray will open. Or if you have a slot-load optical drive, the disc in the drive will come out.

If that still doesn't work, then you're left with the completely manual method. This last-ditch method will work, even when no power is going to the computer, and if followed correctly will not damage anything.

However, it will not work on all optical drives. I'm not sure why, but not all optical drives nowadays seem to have the required little hole. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

IF your drive has a little hole on it's face, you will be able to see it underneath the tray. A diagram that Apple provides here in a support document for Power Mac G4s shows the various locations of this hole in various different optical drives available back in that era:



Suffice it to say, pry back any pretty plastic covering over the optical drive tray very carefully and find the hole. Then press a straightened paper clip into that hole and push to eject the tray. This releases the hold on the tray, and you can carefully pull it out.

If you had a laptop computer or another computer with a slot-load drive (like some of the iMac G3s), there's also a hole to eject, usually just to one side of the slot.



Be gentle when doing this manually.

Trevor
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Old 08-28-2009, 05:16 PM   #9
trevor
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Oh, and to have the computer suck the tray back in again, it's usually safe to gently push on the tray when there's no other method. The potentially damaging part is pulling the tray out when it hasn't yet released using the paperclip and emergency eject hole method.

Trevor
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:02 PM   #10
tanveers
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Thanks a lot Trevor for all your help. Appreciate it.
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