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3 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
[SOLVED] G4 iMac Flat Panel PPC Startup Woes - No access to Install DVD

I recently dumpster-dove a sweet flat panel iMac (PPC), that I was looking to try out for a triumphant return to the mac world (haven't used macs regularly since System 7!)

imac flat panel G4 / 800MHz / PPC / Airport Card / 768 MB Ram / Combo Drive (DVD-R/CD-RW) / Tiger 10.4.11
(90% sure this is the hardware configuration, but it might be 700MHz)

It has never once booted from an install DVD. I've burned about six install DVDs from two different torrent files, and one boots with the blue screen, the other just gets ejected.

In order to get access to the root account, I booted in Solo mode, and ran visudo to edit the SUDOERS file, replacing (ALL) ALL with NOPASSWORD: ALL. It worked perfectly and I rebooted. I created a new account, deleted the old one, and logged in.

I immediately updated through software update, which consisted of two Quicktime updates (I think), and a Security Update from 2009. These updates required a reboot, I did, and now it hangs on the blue screen every time I boot.

Here's what I've tried, in no particular order.
1. Rebooting.
2. Rebooting and resetting the PRAM. (I actually did this on the reboot after the upgrade, the first time that it hung, but had done it dozens of times before as well, to try and fix a LAN problem).
3. Removing the extra memory and Airport Card, and rebooting.
4. Booting from two distinct OS X 10.4 DVDs (burned from torrents). Tried booting while pressing c, shift-command-option-delete, and option (only shows the HD as a boot choice). Nothing works. Was careful to download PowerPC Install images.
5. Ran AppleJacks under solo mode. Every test came back clean.
6. Resetting the PMU.
7. Rebooting in safe mode (hangs)
8. Rebooting in safe mode verbose - at one point, it mentioned an error with SAM Multimedia where it hung, but now it hangs at:
Dec 31 19:01:34 Powder /System/Library/CoreServices/ Login Window Application Started
Warning signs:
1. The ethernet port hasn't worked at all, but I bought a second hand airport card which worked fine.
2. when I got it, a couple of images on the desktop had names renamed to a random string of characters, as did, seemingly, the hard disk. That said, I figured out that it was previously used by a 12 year old, which could explain it, but it did smack of a hard disk error. There were no errors in opening those files, nor any other suspicious activity or sounds.
3. When I put in a burned DVD-R of a Tiger OS X install DVD, it wouldn't read it, and seemed to leave dark streaks (like fragments of rings 1-2mm thick in sporadic locations) on the surface of several DVD-Rs (I have never seen anything like it). Since then, this hasn't been a problem with a couple of other burned install discs that I've tried. It played an audio CD just fine.

I'm fairly sure it's a software issue, as it had booted up dozens of times before the software update, but given that it doesn't seem to be reading the install DVDs to repair, I'm really struggling to find a solution.

Any help greatly appreciated. Also, I feel very comfortable with Solo-mode commands, and navigating *nix based file systems from a command line.

Premium Member
1,129 Posts
aw crap-sounds like the dvd drive is toast. I was gonna suggest target mode, but since the ethernet jack is gone,
I can't do that....

maybe you can borrow an external dvd drive with FW socket and use that??


Premium Member
5,384 Posts
Do you have another mac with firewire 400? You can connect that way and install via target disk mode. I have a flat panel iMac G4, great little device, I use it as a juke box now, streaming wirelessly from my i5 iMac.

506 Posts
Replace the dvd drive, it's a pata so any old drive will do of you can't find new.
They are not as difficult to change as you might think.
I removed the base assembly and attached it to the upper assembly on 2 faulty G4 Imacs.
Made a good one out of 2 bad ones.
4 screws take the bottom cover off, 4 screws remove the base.
Unplug the ribbon cable and upper housing power plug.
4 screws remove the hard drive/optical drive cage.
4 screws remove the optical drive, reverse to install.

3 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Terrific suggestions, everyone! I really appreciate the help.

Yeah, I was delighted with the speed of it, and even if Tiger is getting a little dated, I'm more than happy to have this beautiful computer for puttering around the web, getting to know OSX and maybe playing a bit of Escape Velocity: Nova, and Return to Dark Castle, for old time's sake.

Here's what I've got access to through friends, etc.
- An old graphite G3 (summer 2001) - but the monitor doesn't work. From what I can tell, it most likely only has a CD drive (if it has a DVD drive, that would be the solution right there!), *but* should have firewire 400, as best I can figure. I bought this for the mouse and keyboard, as the flat-panel G4 in question didn't come with one. I also thought the HD or RAM might be exchangeable, but that's another post.
- A G4 iBook, which I would guess has the firewire 400 as well.
- An aluminium macbook pro.

I'm thinking, at this point, that the G4 iBook via firewire in Target mode should be the best bet, but when I last tried to boot it from one of the Install DVDs (to test the DVD), it went straight to what looked like two-panel instructions of how to put AA batteries in an optical mouse. No other screen was possible, but I didn't try the second install DVD on it.

Does Target mode work from single-user mode? Does it work automatically by booting while holding down option, if the other computer is connected? Could it ever work over airport?

I'll try this out (as soon as I hunt down a M2M firewire cable). If not, wslctrc, great point about it being an easy install. I'm no stranger to a screwdriver and a static cable, but with how wacky this housing is, I was a little bit hesitant to dig in past the easy-access memory and airport slot.

Thanks again everyone! I'll be sure to post if I find a solution. Still, open to other suggestions!

3 Posts
Discussion Starter #7

To wrap-up:

There was a great moment last night where I had three computers at varying degrees of functionality trying to get the original 15" flat panel repaired.
1. Flat panel, with aforementioned DVD problems, hooked up in firewire target mode to:
2. G3 600Mhz iMac. CD drive only. Monitor is broken, so hooked up to:
3. Peripheral dell monitor from home PC.

Unfortunately, despite all of those, there wasn't a single working DVD drive that could use firewire, so although I repaired the target disk several times, the problem still wasn't fixed.

Side note: editing visudo seemed to be at the heart of the problem. When I tried to get admin control on the G3 the same way, I had the same boot problems, but I was able to undo what I had done, and it repaired it. Not so on the G4.

Ultimately, firewire target mode targeting the macbook pro (intel) was at least able to boot from the DVD via firewire, when holding down [option] while booting, after the macbook had been booted in target mode, with the DVD in the drive (but not mounted, or otherwise loaded on the macbook).

I tried repairing the disk, repairing permissions, but finally, had to reinstall. Was delighted to see all the existing programs were still there, and it's working spectacularly well.

Interestingly, at one point in target mode, the ethernet port worked, and then stopped working shortly thereafter. That's a bad sign, but at least the airport card works. I also learned that the DVD drive works after all, even if it won't read DVD-Rs burnt at 2X speed (which, the interwebz tell me, it really should). I'm hoping that a cleaning will fix that. Nevertheless, I'm delighted to be back on Mac, playing Return to Dark Castle as we speak, and generally enjoying the nuances of OSX, and all the ins and outs of the utilities I ran into. I really, really underestimated firewire until now.

Thank you all so much for helping me find the solution, and I may yet replace the DVD drive, just in case I ever botch the disk again ;-)

I'll try and give back to the forums as I learn over time!
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