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ccrdrjo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
My iBook G4 won't start up. I've read several other instances of people with similar problems, but none of the solutions work.

Tried safe mode; no luck.
Tried single user mode; no luck.
Tried booting with install CD; was able to run system checker - no problems found. Tried again and the machine froze up.
Pulled the Airport card - no luck.

The computer will progress through various stages of the start-up cycle. Sometimes it gets to the grey Apple logo with the spinning sprocket; the sprocket stops spinning and nothing happens.

Sometimes it gets to the sprocket and then goes to a blue screen.

Sometimes it chimes, then the screen starts switching between primary colors.

Sometimes it gets all the way to the login screen, then freezes.

Sometimes it lets me log on, then freezes.

No modifications done to the machine. It's about 6 years old.


iBook G4(2), iMac, MacBook, Mac OS X (10.5.8)
  • 1. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)

    I have an identical problem with the G4 1.33 ghz iBook I am presently working on and have come to the conclusion that the hard drive is at fault, but I certainly welcome other opinions.

    Do you have an external display and a VGA mini-port adapter? If so See if the video anomalies are eveident on the external display. On my iBook the anomalies are present on the external display, which you would think would indicate that the graphics processor is at fault. However, the spinning gear that freezes and sometimes goes to a blue screen looks like a hard drive issue to me.

    Listen closely to the hard drive. Mine is making a growling and ticking noise that does not sound healthy, even though Disk Utility and Disk Warrior say that the hard drive is OK. I have a feeling that Smart Utility would say the hard drive has failed, if I could somehow get it to boot long enough to run it.

    Do you have another Mac around that you can connect to in Target Disc Mode? If so, boot from your host mac and use Disk Utility to verify or try to repair the HD. I am in the process, as we speak of removing the drive and placing it in an external enclosure to try and isolate the problem. I'll let you know what happens, if you'd like.

    I realize that this is probably not much help, but you haven't a reply yet so I thought I would give you a few things to think about.

    Good Luck,

  • 2. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    ccrdrjo Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
    I have 2 other Macs (an identical iBook G4 and an iMac G4); I'll look into "target disc mode".

    Thanks - I'll let you know how it goes.
  • 3. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)
    Just checking back...

    With the HD in a Firewire enclosure, Disk Utility was unable to repair the disk after 3 attempts. DiskWarrior was also unable to repair the disk. This is so, even though Disk Utility and DiskWarrior both said the drive was OK through Target Disk mode. Something about separating the drive from the computer to evaluate it in an enclosure gives more accurate results.

    There is a good chance that your HD is in the same condition, especially if it is the original drive.

    Please post back with updates if you have some new developments.



    Message was edited by: DesertSage
  • 4. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)
    Wait! Stop the presses.

    I may have to eat humble pie. I received my new hard drive, installed it, installed Leopard and am installing the updates as I type. I am installing through my iMac in Target Disc Mode because I am working with a copy DVD that is Duel Layer and havve a DL DVD drive in the iMac. Sorry for the intro, but what I'm getting at is that, as the install progresses on the iMac the iBook's display went from the migrating firewire symbol back to the flashing screens of primary colors (white, red, green, blue, then white again). It eventually settles back to a dark blue screen until it's asked to be active again and then back to the color screens.

    It appears that, not only did I have a bad hard drive, but also something else.

    I will continue to load the updates and repair disc permissions and will let you know how it goes after a restart.

    Did you try TD mode yet?

  • 5. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)

    After the install and updates on the new HD, the iBook starts up fine now through the gray Apple screen, but then just hangs at a blue screen.

    My particular problem seems to run deeper than needing just a new hard drive. I'll post back when I get this figured out. There may be other Discussion members who know what is going on here.

  • 6. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)
    This may be a memory issue. I'm going to switch modules when I get home from work.

    I'll let you know.

  • 7. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)

    I would begin by booting from the Apple Hardware Test disk and running the extended tests in a loop (Control + L during test). Let it run for a while as it sometimes takes hours for intermittent issues to surface.

    Randy's suggestion about the HDD may be applicable since you apparently have the original HDD, and it could well be failing, although if you ran Disk Repair from the install disk it may be OK for now.

  • 8. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)
    Hi Cornelius,

    Thanks for the help. Since ccrdrjo and I are having what seems to be identical problems, I'm appreciating any kind of direction from here.

    I was able to actually get AHT to boot the iBook this time. Airport Card passed, logic board passed, then mass storage, but when it was a ways into memory, AHT crashed (froze at 4 minutes plus of elapsed time).

    Just before the test, I removed the memory module and restarted, but no change resulted. Could it be, considering where AHT crashed, that the issue may lie with the on-board memory? Even though AHT said that the logic board was OK?

    I am unable to get AHT to boot again. I have also tried TechTool. No dice there, either. I am still, either getting the spinning gear freezing at the Apple screen, if it gets passed that it hangs at a blue screen, or begins to go through primary colors again from white to red > green > blue > white and repeat.

    Any more thoughts on this? Maybe ccrdrjo will report back, too.

  • 9. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)
    Hi Randy:

    You do good work. Thanks for your contributions.

    From your report, with no RAM but the logic board RAM, and a new HDD, it may well be, as you suggested, that the logic board RAM is the issue. Are you anywhere near an Apple Store where you can have the Genius Bar check it out? That would be easiest way to get a definitive answer.

  • 10. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)
    Thanks Cornelius,

    I'll consider that. The closest Apple Store is in Seattle, a couple of hours away, but I do get down there from time to time. I just sent spudnuty an email. He may have some suggestions, too.

  • 11. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)

    Richard is great with the hardware end. If the on-board RAM is the issue you can have it changed (Richard will have thoughts on that) or, as I have seen some users suggest, disable it on the logic board by clipping the leads. Will wait to hear what you find out.

  • 12. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)
    Thanks Cornelius,

    I'll wait to hear from Richard. I didn't know that it was possible to change out the on-board RAM. Good to know!

  • 13. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    spudnuty Level 5 Level 5 (5,250 points)
    Hey Randy et al,
    Sorry been out of touch since I'm setting up a "ugh!!" PC lab here in town. 28 computers and a cabling nightmare.
    So here's what I think is the pertinent info:
    screen starts switching between primary colors....then freezes.....Sometimes it lets me log on, then freezes.

    freezing at the Apple screen
    red > green > blue > white and repeat.

    So when you see that repeating primary colors you'd first think it's the LVDS connector. However the fact that it's also in the external display and the "freezing" part points you directly at the GPU. Since the iBook and Macs in general are GUI architecture any fault with the GPU will cause a freeze.
    So based on experience with the early iBook G3s. Symptoms like this were sometimes caused by a failure of the BGA on the GPU. This was easy to test in the G3s since the GPU was easily available on the bottom of the logic board.
    In the G4 it's under that large heat sink on top (toward the front) so a pressure diagnostic is very difficult. I've never been able to diagnose a BGA failure in a G4. If that were the case a reball would be in order.
    The final and more problematic problem is a failure of the GPU itself. In a G3 I did manage a repair by finding an identical GPU on a Dell laptop board and having Superior swap it in. However in these later G4s the chip is a ATI Mobility Radeon 9550 4x AGP and if I remember the research I did on a 1.42 with this problem I couldn't find a cheap replacement donor from a PC laptop.
    That coupled with the undependable nature of Superior and perhaps the other place in Arizona has left that 1.42 sitting in a box under my bench.
    I'm still looking for a way to do that however. (Never give up!)
  • 14. Re: Bad startup with a twist.
    DesertSage Level 2 Level 2 (150 points)
    Hi Richard,

    Thank you for that most thorough and generous report. I always learn something new form your posts!

    Yeah, those were the kind of fears I was having. I may have to begin looking for a logic board.

    I emailed the guy who organized my last G3 repair at First Phase (R3 Circuits) in Arizona to ask if they were still in the business, but haven't received a reply. It looks like their website is gone. Too bad, I'm still using that G3, so even though it was a reflow, it keeps going. I took a chance on a BGA reflow repair outfit on eBay a few months ago. What a nightmare! The guy charged my credit card and then never returned my logic board (I know you've been there) until I filed a claim with PayPal and the eBay resolution center. You would think that there would be some credible reball service out there somewhere.

    Thanks again Richard, and if we don't hear from you for a while, we'll know that you're hopelessly tangled in PC cables and will send help.


    I feel a little bit strange about this. It's not even my question here, but I kind of hijacked it.
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