5 Replies Latest reply: Oct 4, 2010 7:32 PM by cornelius
darksurtur Level 1 Level 1

My powerbook G4 shut down today with a kernel panic and now won't boot up (giving a kernel panic error after reaching the gray screen). The computer has been working fine, though the battery has run down, with the exception of not shutting down properly (I would have to power off manually). I tried various things to fix this (repair permissions, check hard drive, checking logs, etc.), but all those checked out and I could never get it figured out. I have been leaving the computer running because of this and it has been working fine. It is a stock G4 with no peripherals, except for a 1 GB RAM upgrade. The RAM was installed two years ago and tested strenuously with memtest with no issues.

I did have my hard drive near full, as I didn't realize that this could case severe issues. It's probably too full to do a clean Archive and Install. My fault.

I have reset my PMU/PRAM, but the computer won't boot up in safe mode or single-user mode. I get the following message at the end of single-user mode:

Kernel version:
Darwin Kernel Version 8.11.0: Wed Oct 10 18:26:00 PDT 2007: root:xnu-792.24.17~1/RELEASE_PPC
panic: We are hanging here ...

Unfortunately, I do not have my backup disks with me right now, as I recently moved (I will have them in a couple weeks).

There's some data on the computer it would be nice to pull off, but not absolutely essential. So my question is: Does this sound like a hard drive problem or a journal system/file system problem or something else? I hear no strange noises from the drive (the fan is a little noisy, though). What can I do at this point while I wait for my discs to arrive from across country?

If this is a file problem, I have heard these are difficult to fix or even deal with in terms of data recovery, since the disk won't mount even in firewire target mode. Should I invest in a firewire external drive in order to create a bootable second drive? Purchase DiskWarrior? Create a bootable Linux CD? Any help would be appreciated!

12'' Powerbook G4, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6

    If you have the original HDD with which the computer was bought you likely have a failed HDD and should have it replaced with a newer, faster and large capacity HDD. The average life of an internal HDD is 3 to 5 years, and although it may not suddenly stop functioning after that performance gradually decreases until the drive fails completely.

    A too full drive can cause serious directory corruption which can in turn lead to data corruption and possible loss, and eventually a crash. You should maintain a minimum of 15% to total disk capacity (5 GB minimum on HDDs of 40 GB or less) as contiguous free space to allow for swap files and directory expansion.

    You should always maintain a current backup of everything you do not wish to lose as even a new HDD can fail suddenly. Using an external firewire drive and making a bootable clone using a utility like SuperDuper or Carbon Copy Cloner is an excellent way to accomplish this. Dr. Smoke's FAQ Backup and Recovery has excellent tips on backup strategies.

    Please do post back if you have further questions or comments.

  • darksurtur Level 1 Level 1
    The problem is likely due to a filled hard drive. I had <2 GB free on my 60 GB hard drive (as I was temporarily storing some HD video files). Again, I didn't know this would be a problem. I'm ready to retire the machine. The question now, is, how do I get the data off of it (I'd really prefer this). Does anyone have experience with recovering data after file system corruptions? My machine boots up in target disk mode, but I don't currently have another Mac to connect it to either; I will have one in 10 days or so.
  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6
    The problem is likely due to a filled hard drive.

    I am not sure what rationale leads you to that conclusion and am open to clarification.
    Is the HDD in the computer the original HDD, or was it replaced at some point?
    When you boot from the install disk and launch Disk Utility does the HDD (manufacturer ID) show up in the sidebar?

    In terms of Data recovery see Dr. Smoke's FAQ Data Recovery.

  • darksurtur Level 1 Level 1
    So ... I finally managed to get a hold of my original system CDs and the results were quite unexpected. The system wouldn't boot from disc either with the System Install or Tiger Upgrade discs. Finally, I managed to get into Hardware Test on the System disc using the startup volume chooser - and I got a Logic Board error: 2PUS/1/4: usb@1b.

    So, not the hard drive or OS. I assume that this could explain my kernel panics. I am ok retiring the computer, so I don't want to bother repairing such a part, which I imagine would be very expensive. So my question is, assuming the hard drive is still good, how can I get the data off? I know one option is firewire target mode, and I know my computer boots into it. I have access to a new-generation MacBook Pro, but only have 6-pin to 6-pin firewire cables; I've order a bilingual cable. But if that doesn't work, is there a way to pull the hard drive and access data off of it?
  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6
    You can get one of these adapters which will enable you to connect your firewire 400 PowerBook G4 to the MacBook Pro 800 firewire port. Be sure you get the right male-female match. You can then use FW-TDM to move your data. This will be the easiest and least expensive route.

    The other would be to pull the HDD from the PB G4, place it in an external enclosure, connect it to the MBP and access the data in that way.

    Questions? Please post back.