View Full Version : Unbootable iBook

01-01-2004, 05:48 AM
Machine: 600MHz dual-USB iBook, vintage mid-2002, OS 10.2 + OS 9, purchased in Japan.

History: Marginally functional CD-R/RW/DVD-ROM drive, but otherwise fully functional until an apparent data problem caused machine to refuse to access the HDD - fixed by a repairer in New Zealand. Following this fix, a crash + forced shut-down would prevent a utility such as Norton's being run from CD: until left overnight, the CD would spin up, then spin down again without loading anything. By the morning, the CD would be usable again.

The machine is now temporarily back in Japan, where the following sequence of events occurred:

1. We ran Disk Warrior from CD to try to fix the machine (every time it was run, it would declare a volume bitmap error on both the OSX and OS9
2. We also tried to run Norton's Antivirus under OS9 from CD, but it froze, an hour or so after which the machine was forced shut-down and the CD problem described above recurred.
3. We ran Disk Warrior from CD again (again getting a volume bitmap error).
4. We again ran Norton's Antivirus under OS9, but this time from the hard disk, and it again froze, requiring a forced shut-down.
5. We then ran Norton's Antivirus under OSX, and this time it completed, declaring both partitions to be virus-free.
6. We did a PRAM and NVRAM reset according to the procedure supplied by Apple, in order to try to prevent the date resetting at every restart (suspected to be the cause of the original data/crash problem, due to upsetting a program). Following this, the machine refused to boot (we got the flashing question mark), so we restarted it using Disk Warrior from CD and got it running again.
7. Since the reset did not solve the date resetting problem, we then reset the PMU following the procedure supplied by Apple.
8. Following the PMU reset, the machine again refused to restart from HDD (now not even spinning it up), but this time we could not start from CD either, as this would spin up, then spin down again without reading.
9. Suspecting the CD drive had finally failed, we replaced it with a Taxan iBDVR drive (which we had already decided to do anyway). However, this behaves exactly the same as the "failed" original CD drive.

Attempts to start the machine now proceed as follows:
A. Start-up chime occurs;
B. If from HDD, nothing happens (blank grey screen, no HDD activity, eventual flashing question mark);
C. If from CD (C key held down), the (new) CD drive spins up for a few seconds, spins down to low speed, then stops, with a blank grey screen etc (i.e. just the same as the old CD drive).

Since the only troubleshooting advice Apple give is to start from CD, and we can't, we'd like some advice on what else we can try, please. We do have another iBook here, and we have a Zip drive. Can we put anything onto the Zip drive from the other machine that might help, and if so, how would we try to persuade the failed computer to use it to start up? If that's not an option, what else can anyone suggest, please?

The iBook with the fault is my son's. This message was prepared on an elderly ROM-based ARM-powered Acorn (it runs Risc OS), which will always provide a basic GUI and utilities, however badly provoked. I've been toying with replacing it with an iMac at half the price of a new Risc OS computer, but I'm seriously going off all soft-loaded OSs at the moment. Gentle readers, Apple's fate in this household lies in your hands (Mr Gates's is already sealed - I've had enough aggro with Windoze at work to last me a lifetime, thank you).

Regards in desperation

Michael Poole

01-01-2004, 09:48 AM
Is it possible that the CDROM is going bad, and now the HD failed - and they are unrelated? Update: Oops, missed the part about replacing the CDROM....so as long as the new drive is bootable and installed OK, you have that covered.

You might try FireWire Target Disk Mode (http://docs.info.apple.com/article.html?artnum=58583), which basically lets you see the ibook HD as an external HD when connected to another (FireWire) Mac. Might help determine if the HD is dead or not....


Charlie Don't Surf!

[This message was edited by unclemac on Thu January 01, 2004 PT at 9:52.]

01-02-2004, 06:09 AM
Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, we got no response from the host (our healthy iBook).

Apple's instructions for FireWire Target Disk Mode tell us to "Start up the target computer and immediately press and hold down the T key until the FireWire icon appears".

Since the FireWire icon never appeared, and the instructions go on to say "If the target computer's disk does not become available to the host computer, check the cable connections and restart the host computer.", we ended up trying several permutations, as follows:

1. With the host computer running, we powered-on the target computer, then pressed and held down the T key as soon as the start-up chime was heard. The target computer's screen stayed black, and no new disk icon appeared on the host computer.

2. We "turned off" the target computer, only to hear its start-up chime once more! Maybe holding down the T key had powered it back down again?

3. With the host computer running, we powered-on the target computer, and this time waited until its screen lit up before pressing and holding down its T key. Despite holding the key down for maybe a minute, the FireWire icon mentioned in the Apple instructions did not appear - the screen just stayed grey. No icon for the target computer appeared on the host computer.

4. We repeated (1) and (3), but this time in each case we restarted the host computer after the target computer's hard disk had failed to appear on its screen. Neither time did the target computer's hard disk appear on the host computer following the restart.

Apple say that under this procedure the hard disk of the target computer "should become available to the host computer and will likely appear on desktop". Well, it didn't appear, and beyond looking at the host's desktop, we know of no other way of detecting the presence of the target's hard disk. Presumably there's some UNIX commmand that can test for this, but no-one here speaks UNIX.

At no point during proceedings did the target (faulty) computer's HDD sound as if it had spun up.

It's beginning to look as if we have a dead or somehow disabled disk controller. We did have HDD and CD drive access before we did the PMU reset. Performing a PMU reset surely can't damage or disconnect the disk controller, can it?


Michael Poole

01-05-2004, 10:47 AM

If you had a bad HD, it would make sense it would not mount in target mode; if you had a bad ATA controller, would that neccessarily keep the drive from mounting over FW? I think it would be OK, but that is only a guess...

If the controller *is* bad, we might as well just say the MB is bad, which means spend as much on a repair as it is worth, or scrap it.

It sure would be nice to boot to CD to troublshoot the HD/controller question - 'course the bad controller idea would explain not booting to CD.

Unless you round up better/different ideas, might be time to decide if you want to have a repair shop at least diagnose for you. Sorry I wasn't any real help. http://forums.macgurus.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_frown.gif

Post back if find out one way or the other.


Charlie Don't Surf!

01-06-2004, 05:26 AM
Many thanks for trying to help. We eventually hauled it into a shop here in Japan, and they declared the HDD defunct. Presumably the dead drive was upsetting the bus, so the CD couldn't respond either. Anyway, the guy is only going to charge us for the diagnosis, as we're capable of fitting a new drive ourselves, which will save us ???. What had led us astray was that the Kiwi outfit it had first gone to had told us there were no hardware problems. Of course, the poor thing might have karked it since they saw it, as it had been suffering the clicking drive syndrome, so we've no basis for being too hard on them.

Thanks again for trying. Long-range diagnosis is always tricky.