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Resetting unknown Admin password on refurb 12.1" iBook G4

10447 Views 16 Replies Latest reply: Nov 22, 2010 2:42 PM by S.U. RSS
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Bartbrn Level 1 Level 1 (10 points)
Currently Being Moderated
Nov 12, 2010 7:21 AM
Last week my wife bought a reputedly Apple-refurbished iBook G4 from an online retailer. Received it Tuesday. Everything works fine, except that neither the online company nor Apple (if it was they who reputedly refurbed the thing) provided us with an Admin password. Under the "Accounts" tab in Sys Prefs, there is only one account:

User
Admin

And the online retailer helpfully provided NO System disk.

This is obviously a dead-stop problem, as no software updates, Migration, or any other function that requires password authentication can be carried out without knowing the original password.

Hoping -- the fool's faith -- to fix the problem myself, I read Article: HT1274 Mac OS X: Changing or resetting an account password, which says, in part:

"Follow these steps to reset a password when there is only one administrator account on the computer, or if the original administrator account needs a password reset. "Original" administrator account refers to the one that was created immediately after installing Mac OS X…. Start up from a Mac OS X Install disc (one whose version is closest to the version of Mac OS X installed). Usually, you can start from the disc by putting it in your computer, restarting, and holding the C key. Or, put it in the computer and click the Install or Restore icon you see in the disc's main window (after which the computer will start from the disc without you needing to hold C). Or, you can use Startup Manager or the Startup Disk preference pane to select the Install disc.

Choose a language, click the arrow button to continue,
Mac OS X v10.6 or later: Choose Password Reset from the Utilities menu.
Mac OS X v10.5 or v10.4: Choose Reset Password from the Utilities menu.
Mac OS X v10.3: Choose Reset Password from the Installer menu.

… Select your Mac OS X hard disk volume.
Select the user name of your original administrator account."

or, in even simpler terms:

"To reset the administrator password using the Mac OS X disc:
Insert the Mac OS X Install disc and restart the computer.
When you hear the startup tone, hold down the C key until you see the spinning gear.
"When the Installer appears*, choose Utilities > Reset Password.
"Follow the onscreen instructions to change the password.
"Quit the Installer and restart your computer while holding down the mouse button to eject the disc."

That sounds all very straightforward. Unfortunately, as in most of real life, it hasn't worked in the very simple and straightforward manner advertised -- in fact, it hasn't worked at all. I followed the steps in Article HT1274, using an original OS X Tiger v10.4 install disk from one of my PBG4 Titaniums. Whatever way I use to boot the thing up ("…you can start from the disc by putting it in your computer, restarting, and holding the C key. Or, put it in the computer and click the Install or Restore icon you see in the disc's main window [after which the computer will start from the disc without you needing to hold C]. Or, you can use Startup Manager or the Startup Disk preference pane to select the Install disc," I get stuck at the * the Installer never appears, just a window I can't get out of or past, telling me how to put batteries in the older, rounded, rocker-click wireless mouse (NOT the new BlueTooth Magic Mouse mouse I have for my 27" iMac). Why this particular window should show up (it NEVER has done so, using the very same disc on installs and re-installs of my PBG4s), I have no idea.

What I DO know, to my consternation and mounting frustration at the last lost 5 hours (and counting) of trying to get the actions described in Article HT1274, is that all that ever happens is that the little "rotating gear" (ex-Beach Ball) "searching" icon spins and spins and spins over the window showing me how to insert batteries in the mouse -- once this morning, it spun for over half an hour, which was 20 minutes after than EITHER of the drives stopped accessing -- but the little "rotating gear" never stops or goes away, nor can I ever get out of the "change batteries" window and continue on to the stage where Article HT1274 authoritatively states that I can then:

"Choose a language, click the arrow button to continue, and… [for] Mac OS X v10.5 or v10.4: Choose Reset Password from the Utilities menu," then "… Select your Mac OS X hard disk volume." Then "Select the user name of your original administrator account" and proceed to change the password. Nice, if it worked.

It doesn't.

In brainless desperation, I even tried starting up from the OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard disk that came with my 27" iMac. Since only Intel Macs can use Snow Leopard, and this 12.1" iBook is, of course, PPC-based, I got the immediate raspberry when I tried to use it to get to the starting point of Article HT1274.

So I'm stuck. I've searched the Apple Support knowledgeable and relevant discussions with no luck whatsoever. If anyone out there knows how to get past this logjam, I'd be most appreciative of any guidance.

Oh, and the problem has just been made oh-so-much-easier by the fact that for unknown reasons, I can't log in to Apple's Discussions, though I've been logging in for years with no problems. All I get today is:

"We're sorry.
We can't find the page you're looking for.
Please return to the Apple Support homepage."

Assuming I'm never going to be able to log on to Apple Discussions in the foreseeable future, I just talked with AppleCare (which I have for my 27" iMac, but not this refurb iBook), and paid $33 for an original retail iBook G4 OS X 10.4 startup disk.

Again, if anyone out there knows how to get past this logjam, I'd be most appreciative of any guidance.

11/12/10 Update: managing to actually reach Apple customer support yesterday, I was able to purchase a 12.1" iBook G4 System disk for the very reasonable price of $16.50. Unfortunately, the shipping cost was a very UNreasonable $16.50, an odd congruence.


Problem iBook:

iBook G4 (M9846LL/A)
PowerBook6, 7
CPUType: PowerPC G4 (1.2)
Number of CPUs: 1
CPU Speed: 1.33 GHz
L2 Cache (per CPU): 512KB
Memory: 512 MB
Bus Speed: 133MHz
Boot ROM Version: 4.9.3f0
Serial Number: 4HxxxxxxSE7
Sudden Motion Sensor:
State: Enabled
Version: 1.0
Installed OS: OS X Tiger 10.4.7


Install disk:

OS X Tiger v10.4

"Authenticate" window:

Name: User
Password: blank and unknown
Requested right: system.privilege.admin
Application: Install Mac OS X


Thanks

Bart Brown
12.1" iBook G4, Mac OS X (10.4)
  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)
    Bart:

    You can call Apple Customer Service 1-800-767-2775 and they should be able to provide you with the original disks that shipped with your computer for a fee. Have your computer information handy when you call. Even if you choose to use the method below, it would be good to have the original disk so that you can run diagnostics and repairs. It should come on a DVD that has the Apple Hardware Test, although that sometimes comes on a separate CD. It is useful to have the AHT disk even if you decide to upgrade to OS X 10.5x (Leopard).

    You can create a new user account following the directions here. Once you have created a new admin account, log into your new account, go to Apple Menu > System Preferences > Accounts. Select the old user account and click the minus under login items to delete. Choose to delete everything. You will now have a new admin user account.

    Please post back with further questions or comments.

    cornelius
    MBP 2.4 GHz 6 GB RAM, 500/7200 Seagate HDD; VMwFusion: XP Pro, Ubuntu, Mac OS X (10.6.4), PismoG4/550, 120/5400 Seagate HDD (10.4.11); Beige G3 OS 8.6
  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)
    Bart:

    You are very welcome. Please post back with update or further questions/comments.

    cornelius
    MBP 2.4 GHz 6 GB RAM, 500/7200 Seagate HDD; VMwFusion: XP Pro, Ubuntu, Mac OS X (10.6.4), PismoG4/550, 120/5400 Seagate HDD (10.4.11); Beige G3 OS 8.6
  • cornelius Level 6 Level 6 (17,825 points)
    Bart:

    Sorry about the sage this has turned out to be for you. Sounds like that iBook is yours to keep. It is very distressing when one ends up with this kind of double cross.

    Here is an approach you might try that would both test the computer and the install disk. (When you say, genuine Apple disks I am assuming that you mean that it is the original install software for this particular computer. Is that correct?)
    • Boot one of your firewire Macs with working optical drive in Firewire Target Disk Mode. This will make it the Target computer.
    • Insert install disk into Target Computer's optical drive.
    • Connect Target to new refurb iBook G4 via firewire cable
    • Option Boot computer to which you want to install.
    • Select Install Disk for startup and click on the straight arrow.
    • We will now do a complete reformat, erase and install (directions follow)

    Computer is booted from install disk from Target Computer
    • Go to the Utilities menu (Tiger and later) Installer menu (Panther & earlier) and launch Disk Utility.
    • Select your HDD (manufacturer ID) in left side bar.
    • Select Partition tab in main panel. (You are about to create a single partition volume.)
    • Click on Options button
    • Select Apple Partition Map (PPC Macs)
    • Click OK
    • Select number of partitions in pull-down menu above Volume diagram.
    (Note 1: One partition is normally preferable for an internal HDD.)
    • Type in name in Name field (usually Macintosh HD)
    • Select Volume Format as Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
    • Click Apply/Partition button at bottom of panel.
    • Select Erase tab
    • Select the sub-volume (indented) under Manufacturer ID (usually Macintosh HD).
    • Check to be sure your Volume Name and Volume Format are correct.
    • Click Erase button
    • Quit Disk Utility.

    The iBook G4 is still booted from the install disk
    Proceed with installation.

    Please do post back should you have further questions/comments or with an update on your "progress".

    cornelius
    MBP 2.4 GHz 6 GB RAM, 500/7200 Seagate HDD; VMwFusion: XP Pro, Ubuntu, Mac OS X (10.6.5), PismoG4/550, 120/5400 Seagate HDD (10.4.11); Beige G3 OS 8.6
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    Bart,

    Forgive me for horning in here, but it sounds like the outfit you are dealing with has a very shoddy reputation:

    http://sanjose.bbb.org/Business-Report/Surplus-Computers-212384

    Also Google "surplus computers complaints" for even more dissatisfied customers and an earful of their complaints. I didn't read all of it, but it sounds like if you end up wanting to return the iBook, you will likely need to get help from EBay or the BBB or something like that. It doesn't sound like you would want to try this on your own.

    You might want to try booting to the Apple Hardware test from the first DVD and run the extended version of it. Since these guys are so untrustworthy, you don't want to make any assumptions about how well they "refurbished" the computer. Post back with any error codes.

    In all your discs, do you happen to have a retail copy of Leopard? If so, you could try installing from it.

    If you have access to an Apple Store, you could also make an appointment with the genius bar and have them run an extensive hardware test from their store feed. They might also be able to verify if the DVD's are the correct ones and if there might be a problem with one of them.

    Also, the 40 GB hard drive is likely to be the original, and if so, could have some problems even if they don't show up in Disk Utility yet. As an experiment, you could always try installing the OS on one of your external FW drives and see if this works. If it does, then you could try cloning the external to the internal using Super Duper. I had serious problems trying to install the OS on our PowerMac when it had a bad hard drive.

    I'm going to leave all the questions about FW Target Disk Mode to Cornelius, since he is far more experienced with it than I am.

    It may be worth trying a cleaning disk in the optical drive--sometimes that helps.

    At some point in the installation process, you will get the welcome screen, and in the process of setting up the iBook, you will be asked if you want to use Migration Assistant to migrate your data.

    Good luck, and sorry this has been such a nightmare for you.
    MBP 17" hi res, 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, Mac OS X (10.6.5), iBook G4, 800 MHz; PowerMac G4 867 DP(MDD); PB G3 PDQ; PB 145B; 12" PB G4
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    If you had--or could borrow--a retail Leopard disc, you could try installing the OS from that as an alternative to the replacement system disc, just to see if an entirely different disc would work any better. Unfortunately, I don't think a PB G4 disc would be likely to work. It has to be a retail disc, and with a version of OS X later than the iBook originally shipped with.

    The original system discs are very specific to each model computer, and the ones from one are not likely to work properly on a different computer with a different build. They are optimized for the build of computer they were designed to work with. It may be that your original problems of trying to reset the password were due to not having the iBook disc and trying to use the PB discs. If the PB originally shipped with an earlier version of the OS than the iBook did, you would run into problems because a Mac cannot run an earlier version of the OS than the one it originally shipped with.

    You get 15 or 20 minutes for free at the genius bar. They run the hardware test using an ethernet cable, and there is no charge. If they get an error code, they can give you an opinion of what's wrong and what it would take to fix it. You could also try installing the OS from your replacement discs in front of them and let them see the problem with disc 2. It may also be possible for them to install the OS from the store feed if it won't install from the discs.

    The iBook you have seems to be the latest and best of the iBooks, and hopefully it will not have any serious problems. I recently fixed up two of these for a friend's daughters with a 320 GB hard drive and 1.5 GB RAM, and they both seem to be working well so far.

    Bandelier is a fabulous place--you know about the fire there several years ago? It was big news, at least around here. We have been to Los Alamos several times, usually to stop in at the Black Hole--was it there when you were there?

    Anyway, good luck with the iBook!
    MBP 17" hi res, 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, Mac OS X (10.6.5), iBook G4, 800 MHz; PowerMac G4 867 DP(MDD); PB G3 PDQ; PB 145B; 12" PB G4
  • S.U. Level 6 Level 6 (8,360 points)
    This sounds like real progress! You can always install the bundled software later if you want.

    Not sure what's going on with Migration Assistant--I've always had trouble with it. Probably let it run and see what happens. If it just never finishes, I would suspect some incompatibility of some sort. I don't really know how best to stop it, but it seems like the worst thing would be that you would have to reformat and start over.

    What may be the easiest thing to do is to install the OS from disc 1 and then set up your internet connection using the Network Assistant. Once that is established, you can update the OS and any other software installed by disc 1. That should suffice for troubleshooting.

    Then it would be time to run the extended version of the AHT and generally check out the iBook before loading more software onto it and migrating your data and other settings. If you do find problems, you can address them while you've just got the basic OS installed. Only when you are satisfied that all is as it should be would you continue on with the bundled software and migration of data, probably as two separate operations.

    What I recall is that some applications will be installed with the OS such as Mail and Safari. Others like the iLife applications are in the bundled software, and you can install these later from the install discs. I'm pretty sure you can download iTunes and a few others directly from the Apple site.

    It would probably be best to install all applications from disc or direct download from the Apple site so that you know for sure you have a good copy.

    Once you have internet access, you might want to download SMART Utility for a more comprehensive check of the physical health of your hard drive:

    http://www.apple.com/downloads/macosx/systemdiskutilities/smartutility.html

    You can download the demo and run it several times for free. SMART Utility is somewhat more critical than Disk Utility, and may detect impending hard drive problems sooner. If your hard drive has started to fail, that could be a contributing factor to some of the difficulties you have been experiencing. If the drive is the original, it could well be approaching the end of its useful life.

    I think the best thing to do would be to get the machine as fully functional as you can with just the OS, and then take time to see how it performs. Once you are satisfied, you can address installing the other bundled software and when all that is up to date, migrating your data. I'm pretty sure that Migration Assistant will be in your Applications folder.

    I am really wondering what these guys did to "refurbish" this iBook, since it seems to be all original with 512 MB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive. You'll probably want to add a 1 GB Memory stick to speed it up at some point, and I would recommend OWC as a source for this. They are Mac folks and very nice to deal with.

    You might also want to report your adventures with this outfit both to the BBB and to EBay. If the machine does not test out as advertised, and you ultimately want to return it for a refund like they originally said you could, it would likely be helpful to have these guys on your side. Even if you decide the iBook is OK and you don't need to return it, you still might want to report your experience just so EBay and the BBB have it on file where it may be able to be of use to others. It may even be worth reporting them to the state attorney general for fraudulent practices--I really hate the though of people like this taking advantage of innocent consumers. They certainly don't deserve the 95% rating they seem to have.

    I've dealt a little with EBay, and after one marginal experience, I've stayed with vendors that are rated 100%. These guys seem very proud of their rating, and always say to contact them first if there is any problem so that they can take care of it.

    Good luck with all this, and post back with how it goes and what you find!
    MBP 17" hi res, 2.4 GHz Core 2 Duo, 4GB RAM, 500 GB HDD, Mac OS X (10.6.5), iBook G4, 800 MHz; PowerMac G4 867 DP(MDD); PB G3 PDQ; PB 145B; 12" PB G4
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