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ktat Mar 10, 2013 12:01 AM
G5 imac not booting
A friend of mine has recently had a major malfunction with her g5 imac. This is particularly distressing as she has slowly been building up a photography portfolio and has now lost it all.

The story so far:
1. One of her kids accidentally hits the imac with a basketball.
2. Imac boots ok, then doesn't boot, then does, then doesn't...
3. We decide it may be the hard drive, but maybe we can rescue some of the files.
4. I try and access the hard drive with the live OS "lubuntu-12.10-desktop-powerpc.iso" - unfortunately it doesn't get to the login page (the splash screen came up and it got through most of the loading steps though).
Attached is the last bit of output displayed while lubuntu was trying to load.

It would be fantastic if someone can offer some advice on identifying the problem & rescuing the files, if you need more information please ask and I will get it.

I know it would make her day - she's the kind of person who is always doing things to help others (she has another family staying with her at the moment), so it'd be great if we can help her this time :)
ibook_steve Mar 10, 2013 01:51 AM
The disk is dying. If there's no backup, try booting into target disk mode and connecting to another computer to extract the files or remove the drive and put it in a case.

I'm not sure what lubuntu-12.10-desktop-powerpc.iso is (Linux I presume) and I don't see why you're using it as a debugging technique.

reader50 Mar 10, 2013 03:13 AM
Sure looks like a disk error. It may not be the whole drive, but block 0 is coming up bad.

Linux live CDs are commonly used for troubleshooting Windows units having trouble. I've experimented with Ubuntu on my G5, and it does work. That image should have booted her iMac.

ktat, if you have another Mac available (one that has a FireWire port), then you can use FireWire Target Disk Mode, as ibook_steve is suggesting. There is a key combo to hold down on her iMac (Command-T) while booting. Doing so will cause the firmware to abort boot and make the iMac behave as a drive enclosure. So you just connect a FW cable to the other Mac, and the internal drive will become accessible for data recovery.

I'm not clear on if Ubuntu disks have extensive recovery utilities for Mac. The safest approach is to use a working Mac to recover the data. A 2nd Mac will do it. If she has OS install discs and you can supply an external drive, then you can use just her existing iMac. Boot from the install discs with the external drive attached, partition/format it as Apple Partition Map / HFS+, and install to the external. Reboot into that, then use Mac utilities to try and recover the internal drive.

Note: PowerPC Macs like her iMac G5 generally cannot boot from USB. An external boot drive needs to connect via FireWire.
shifuimam Mar 10, 2013 10:50 AM
It looks like SDA3 is what's failing, so could that be a problem with the Linux CD she burned?

I agree with the guys - use Target Disk Mode on another FireWire Mac (an Intel Mac with FW will work, too!) to back up the hard drive, then you can go from there. If the iMac is the older model without a built-in iSight camera, it is very easy to replace the hard drive yourself.

Let us know what happens!
euphras Mar 10, 2013 06:34 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by reader50 (Post 4220963)
There is a key combo to hold down on her iMac (Command-T) while booting.
One minor correction; simply press "T", not "command-T" in order to boot into firewire mode.

And i agree, firewire mode is the way to recover the data.
ktat Mar 16, 2013 11:46 PM
Thank you for all the advice.
I have spoken to her about the FireWire option - she has already tried it with her intel mac and it hasn't worked. She has had advice on other forums that only a PowerPC can read a PowerPC.
I am going to have a look around and see if there is anything about linux pcs reading mac hdd or, alternatively, I'll try pulling the thing apart and seeing if I can repair the hdd - haven't done it before, but I'm sure there'll be something on youtube.

ibook_steve - Some linux distros boot into ram, I was hoping that by doing this I might be able to use the utilities to mount and fix the problem with the hdd. Unfortunatley this particular distro obviously needs a working hdd to start up.

Wish me luck :)
reader50 Mar 17, 2013 12:39 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by ktat (Post 4221982)
She has had advice on other forums that only a PowerPC can read a PowerPC.
This is incorrect. Any Mac with a FireWire port can read the drives in any other Mac with a FireWire port in FW target mode. Intel vs PPC matters for booting from a drive, but not in any other way.

If FW target mode isn't making the internal drive available, then the drive is either physically damaged, or there's something else wrong with her iMac. Assuming it's a Rev A or B iMac G5, I'd check the drive cables. Rev C (iSight) is much harder to open up.
Patrick Mar 17, 2013 01:39 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by ktat (Post 4221982)
…alternatively, I'll try pulling the thing apart and seeing if I can repair the hdd - haven't done it before, but I'm sure there'll be something on youtube.
Unfortunately, hard drives don't have user-serviceable parts, nor are they easily fixed. My advice would be for her to back up EVERYTHING important on it the next chance she gets. If it fails, the only option would be to send it in to an expensive data recovery service.

I've had one hard drive fail on me (also on my iMac G5, coincidentally), and it had the same symptoms. I don't know if the problem was with the circuit board or the motor, but I'm pretty sure something overheated. The lesson to be learned, at any rate, is that these things can fail. Back up your data on a regular basis.
Doc HM Mar 17, 2013 12:58 PM
I would forget about pulling the drive apart. Unless you have a nice hermetically sealed clean room you are likely to do more harm than good by contaminating the surface of the disk.
Given that the iMac was hit by a basket ball (I assume when running) it sounds like the internal drives G shock limits may have been exceeded resulting in the read/write head impacting the spinning platters, with predictable consequences.

If FireWire target mode won't mount the drive you can try pulling it from the iMac and mounting it in an internal usb caddy. I would suggest this will also fail and that professional recovery may be your only option.

Back up before accidents happen is the take home here sadly.
bessiehowell Apr 2, 2013 09:12 AM
Thanks for sharing info guys...that was really helpful!! Learned a lot!! :)
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