Mac boot problem
April 7, 2006 7:32 PM   Subscribe

Strange Mac problem: it won't boot from certain CDs or from the hard drive. Norton Utilities and DiskWarrior both say the hard drive is okay. I'm stumped. Older G3 beige minitower, OS X 10.3.

It's always been funny about booting from CD so I set the startup disk to Norton to boot from that CD. After running Norton it wouldn't restart from the hard drive. I ran DiskWarrior, it fixed a few things, optimized the directories and everything looked fine. But it still wouldn't boot from the hard drive. I tried booting from the OS X 10.3 install CD but it won't boot. It will boot from the OS 9 CD (and the hard drive is perfectly accessible). I set verbose mode and it claims that the CDs that won't boot don't have a bootable HFS partition, which I guess makes sense. I've reset NVRAM and zapped PRAM and tried various Open Firmware tricks, to no avail. Any ideas?
posted by tommasz to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
You don't mention having set the [i]Startup Disk[/i] control panel to boot from the Hard Drive. Did you do that? Especially after zapping the PRAM you should check that. The OS 9 boot CD will have that available under the Apple menu.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:50 PM on April 7, 2006

Try booting from the OS 9 CD, opening the Startup Disk control panel (in OS 9) and setting the startup disk to the hard drive. (Or to something else and back again if it's already set to the hard drive.)

I assume you've also tried holding down C to boot from CD, and option to get a list of startup disks.

Oh, also see this list of startup options. Sometimes you just have to try a bunch of weird stuff 'till it does what you want it to. ;)
posted by trevyn at 8:51 PM on April 7, 2006

Response by poster: If I boot with the OS 9 CD and Set Startup to the OS X disk, it will boot from the OS 9 CD (without holding down C) but not the OS X disk or the 10.3 CD. When OS 9 is running, startup is set to the CD. The PRAM battery is new and the clock is working and accurate. I've zapped the PRAM twice and also reset the nvram in Open Firmware.

I've run Norton, DiskWarrior and Disk First Aid and no problems found on the drive.

The firmware is "Old World" and doesn't have the system picker so I can't use the Option key trick.

I just don't understand why it won't boot the OS X CD.
posted by tommasz at 6:28 AM on April 8, 2006

Some Blue G3s won't boot from all Cds.
Restart the computer and hold these keys: Command-Option-O-F . This asks the computer to start in Open Firmware.
Tip: If you don't start in Open Firmware, try again. Make sure you're using a USB keyboard, and that the keyboard is connected directly to one of the computer's USB ports.
type: boot cd:,\\:tbxi
Press Return.
posted by Gungho at 6:28 AM on April 8, 2006

Response by poster: It's a Beige, not Blue, G3. That Open Firmware command results in the same blinking question mark and it doesn't even seem to spin the CD up.
posted by tommasz at 6:40 AM on April 8, 2006

are your drives SCSI? is your OS X CD a burned copy or a real one? there's a couple of things I can think of here; one is that (if your hard drive and/or CD-ROM drive are SCSI) you have termination issues. another, which doesn't help your hard drive booting problem, is that your CD drive is going out. (if it's the original one, it probably is. lasers don't last forever.) your motherboard may also be going out - I've seen cases where beige G3s won't boot discs that another beige G3 would boot fine. the fact that you said it's always been funny about booting from CD leads me to think this is the case - either it's going out or there's some voodoo in there. or your hard drive may be going out. I've had hard drives "go out" to the extent that they're not bootable but still work after the system's booted.

there's a hard PRAM reset on those machines too - unplug all power (that includes your PRAM battery, BTW) and open the machine up. there's a little pushbutton near the PCI slots. (AFAIK. it may be somewhere else.) push and hold it for 10 seconds and reconnect everything. that's supposed to clean out your PRAM better than Open Firmware or the zapper thing do.
posted by mrg at 11:21 AM on April 8, 2006

Response by poster: I've swapped a lot of pieces in and out, I'm convinced the drive is unbootable, despite being readable and the rest of the hardware is questionable as well. I'm moving things to a newer G3. Thanks to all for your advice.
posted by tommasz at 1:14 PM on April 8, 2006

starting up in 9, and then running disk utility there and fixing all sorts of things might help too. If you can get ahold of carbon copy cloner or disk warrior, that might help too.

(if you're going to buy, i've had no problems at all with the mini in either 9 or 10--the older one, not the intel one--and big problems with emac in the past)
posted by amberglow at 1:33 PM on April 8, 2006

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