Why won't my G3 boot?
May 25, 2007 4:52 PM   Subscribe

My G3/700mhz (DualUSB) iBook is not booting in a strange way: I definitely need a hint on this one. Lots and lots

more inside.

A while back, the machine started having problems while tidying the disk up with Applejack or Disk Utility - only occured once per run, and fsck would finish running. Rerunning fsck with Applejack would produce the exact same error at the same time. I don't remember the exact error, but it was always the same, and googling it convinced me that it was file-structure related, and not hardware related. I took this as an opportunity to install 10.4, and reformatted the hard drive - Since the machine dosen't have a DVD drive, I used an external firewire drive to boot 10.4, format the disk using a 'wipe clean' setting, then install. It did so without errors.

Now, If left to it's own devices, it boots to the grey apple screen, then the gear spins endlessly. If I boot it in Single-User(command-S) or view boot mode, the boot hangs with:
BSD root: disk0s10, major 14, minor 10
disk0s10: I/O error.
disk0s10: I/O error.
...Which to my mind says 'Disk bad!' but:
  • The disk is more than six months, but less than a year old - an odd time to die IMO.
  • If the laptop is booted in Target mode(command-T), it mounts fine on my Blue & White G3, and Disk Utility can scan it without problems.
I've even installed 10.4, then 10.3 on it in target mode when I thought that the new OS could be the source of the problems. It still exhibits the same problem.

The tech at the local Apple store booted it off a FW drive, ran some diagnostics, and noted that the machine had problems until the CD drive was ejected, and suggested that I remove the CD drive and see if it would behave itself. I tried it, and it did not.

To sum: It's probably hardware, but I'll be dipped if I can think of what it is.

Any ideas of what I can try next?
posted by Orb2069 to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
Your disk is dying. Sorry.

Sometimes they will struggle on for a while like yours.

Just because it will mount fine in target mode just tells you that there is a directory structure there that makes sense. However, booting requires actually *reading* lots of files. Plus, using free space for paging out memory etc.

In my experience the MTBF of drives is getting shorter and shorter, so it wouldn't surprise me *at all* to see a drive begin to fail before the 12 month mark.
posted by unSane at 7:22 PM on May 25, 2007

Maybe you can run something like TechTool Pro's surface scan to verify whether or not you have bad blocks. Assuming it's a bad block issue, maybe you can try reformating it, with the secure erase option set to write zeroes in all free space. This might remap out the bad blocks and allow you to boot up. But in the long run, I think you're living in borrowed time with that disk.
posted by jaimev at 10:36 PM on May 25, 2007

Yep. Swap that hard drive for a cheap new one.

6 months means nothing. I've had drives go in a week, and others last 10 years.
posted by spitbull at 5:49 AM on May 26, 2007

While I agree that this sounds more like the hard drive, it may be worth mentioning that as soon as I hear of any strange problems with a G3 iBook (especially the 700MHz ones) I think of the logic board issues they are prone to.

The linked page doesn't list your specific problem, so again, it probably is the drive - but you should be aware of the issues it does list in case they happen to you in the future.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 6:33 PM on May 26, 2007

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