View Full Version : B&W in a basket, how to resurrect?

05-01-2004, 12:58 PM
I passed my trusty and much upgraded B&W on to my partner in musical crime. Today I acquired a defunct B&W case for $50. No drives, no RAM, no video card, and a possibly duff CPU. The original k/b and mouse seem to be OK. I took the punt on eBay on the chance that it might be a Rev.2, but alas that ain't so. Still, I have all the bits out of my other B&W to make a working machine. This thing works, but I've come unstuck what with it having no ATAPI optical drive, and that's the one thing I don't have kicking around spare. I installed my old 350 G3, a stick of suitable RAM, the Rage 128 and a 40GB Barracuda with OS 9 installed. At first time of asking, no joy, just the Interrogative Folder flashing away on screen. I attached a USB LaCie CD writer with an OS 9 install disk in it and tried a restart (press C). Bingo! The B&W booted successfully from the external CD, but the installed HDD would not mount. It would however be initialised, which I did, and commenced an install of OS 9. I got a series of messages telling me it couldn't do everything it was supposed to do (it's a bootleg 9.2.1 CD) and I selected the Skip option in each case. I figured that if it didn't work I'd just start again with paid-for Panther. I used the Startup Disk Control Panel of the installer to set the internal HDD as the startup disk. Ever since, all I get on restart is the flashing Question Mark in the Folder, despite trying to boot again from the external CD. Resets of PRAM, OF nvram, and cuda all to no avail. Pulled the battery, let it rest, installed known good battery, no joy.
This thing will boot into OpenFirmware no problem; is there any way I can force it to boot from the external CD by using OF? I'm not sure of the state of the system install on the HDD, but maybe I could bless that volume instead. I'm definitely out of my depth here guys, and a little step-by-step hand-holding would be appreciated. For $50 the sky won't fall if it's toast, but I'd sure like to get this thing up an running, just for the crack.

05-01-2004, 02:28 PM
I've never tried using bootleg OS 9, or had to skip, though I did get "Big System Morsel" message once. I'd run Disk Warrior (2.11) to repair boot block and hfs wrapper which is probably "?" why that comes up.

Booting from OS X Jaguar Install CD or later seems to help, also.

Good RAM = 8 ns 125 MHz PC100 or PC133 16x64.

I've never felt rev 1 was a big problem as I think a PCI controller is mandatory on those systems, even Rev 2 like mine.

Does FireWire target disk mode work at all? can you clone a system, put your 40GB in FW case and prep it with OS X?

Part of OF nvram reset is also 'set-defaults' and 'reset-all' and shouldn't need to do cuda if you do that. Letting sit overnight w/o power or battery has been known to help.

I've never felt like eBay was worth the risks, personal, financial, or worse, and that people do unload non-functional or questionable systems. We've had half a dozen it seems in the last year with very similar stories!

Might even try searching, the search feature on the site is fast. 'dead B&W' or something?

05-01-2004, 02:44 PM
Not sure if it will work for USB, but the old tried-and-true startup keystrokes for booting off (other & external) devices is:


That's an old one, used in the day for forcing the boot off say external SCSI devices. It worked on my B/W, I tested it once with an old external SCSI Zip 100 drive. I'm pretty sure that one did the trick for an internal ATAPI Zip disk too.

Give that one a go.

05-01-2004, 02:46 PM
Thanks for that TZ. I don't have the Firewire option, but I might try pulling the HDD and using the G4 to install Panther and give that a whirl. I'm trying to avoid that 'cause it means getting the DigAudio out of its cabinet and it's just a hassle, and I might get to learn something about OF if that route is passable, and if I can find a guide.

The RAM's OK, and $50 ain't a whole lot of hurt if the 'puter's total rubbish, and I get a k/b for the other B&W! The last one failed and got replaced with a freebie German Apple Extended, which is OK as long as you don't have to look at the keys to type! (Or if you speak German. I don't.)

05-01-2004, 02:48 PM

Just to make sure it doesn't get lost, I posted a startup keystroke sequence (4 keys at once) for you to try below.


Oh now you mention the ebay stories. :D I just got through bidding on a Cube modem. But figure $25 ain't a lot of hurt on this one either if it doesn't work or gets lost.

05-01-2004, 04:09 PM
Eric, I tried the 4 key restart, and it had the effect of producing the Flashing Interrogative faster, like right now, no hanging about. Granted, it reduces the suspense factor, but means that I get madder sooner because it still won't boot! I know I have some hardware options like prepping the drive with Panther in the DigAudio, or even using the optical drive from the DA if it will work in a B&W, I guess it will, it's a Pioneer 103, but it sure would be nice to learn how to go Forth and multiply. I feel sure someone would like to tell me how! Careful now!

I've looked at the OF site, and to be frank (or Bill, or Fred if you like) Forth is out of my league. It seems like such a powerful tool which might be used to solve little problems like this, but I just can't get my head around it. Dominus, illuminatio meo.

05-01-2004, 05:08 PM

Duh! BWs can't boot from FW devices, and I suspect they can't boot from USB either. That's the 1st machine with both of those. But you can boot externally from SCSI.

So you'll need to find another way. The Superdrive in the DA should boot the BW. I stuck a 104 in mine and it booted and installed 9.x and X without a problem. When I got my used DA, the shop owner stuck the 103 from the DA in the BW (I wanted my 104) -- the 103 worked fine to install 9.x.

05-01-2004, 05:21 PM
the really galling part is that it did boot from the usb CD drive, and now it won't! So it can, if only I could persuade it. I guess I'll put Panther on the HDD with the DA and try that next, only 'cause it's easier than moving the DVD drive.

05-01-2004, 05:27 PM
Oh yea, that's right you did boot once from USB as said. Hmm...

Well, HDD move is easier than the optical I think. The optical drive sled can be swapped is one big quick move. But pulling off the plastic, etc is a bit more work.

Just easier, to shuffly around stack brackets.

05-02-2004, 11:35 AM
In the end, after much shuffling of hard drives, the easiest solution was to pull the DVD drive out of the DA and put it in the Smurf. Dead easy, 2 screws, identical carrier. It still took several attempts at Initialise/Install with several hangs on the way (most applications crash, if not, the operating system hangs. Initially, that used to be a joke!). So here we are, with said $50 Smurf up and running with the redundant bits from my other B&W. The question is, what to do with it now? Not knowing my arse from a hole in the ground, I have to ask whether this old box could have enough puff with some sort of G4/SATA upgrade to serve as a... well, server for a modest music-oriented website. I know, you can tell, I really don't know my fundamental orifice from a tangible crater, but hosting has the ongoing cost and hassle, and I'm only talking about a limited amount of available media in a somewhat specialised genre, and I'd get a charge out of using what's practically for free in this age of inevitable megabuck technological mission creep. Don't get me wrong, just as soon as I can justify a move to a G5 I'll do it, Digidesign have seen to that (don't even go there!). But, here's a perfectly servicable 5 year-old piece of kit that will run the very latest OS as is, and is upgradeable (you just have to chalk one up to Apple for that!), so why not get the most mileage possible? All suggestions as to committal to an institution or to the implementation of said Smurf as a server will be gratefully received.

05-02-2004, 01:04 PM
I learn a lot from upgrading and seeing the reward of a better working system. It can be done gradually, so as to only do one thing at a time, make sure it is working before going to the next upgrade.

There are always cpu upgrades, whether G4/1000 or G3/1000, as well as RAM and disk drives. SATA makes sense for server mainly because you can put it in the fast "video" 66 Mhz PCI slot. Room for 4 internal drives, SuperDrive if you need to for $100. FW800 even for backup and external storage. Might want enet 10/100/1000 PCI card.

The RAM is critical in getting a good working system.

If you order(ed) Mac OS X 10.3, you can then call Apple, download a pdf form, and get OS 9.2.1 CD for $20-30. Why they don't sell OS X on DVD with an OS9General.smi or .dmg is beyond me. No need for installer.

I thnk Rick still uses his B&W for server. It would be nice to see a 4-channel SATA card.

I can't part with mine even though it doesn't get much use anymore.