Previous 1 2 Next 15 Replies Latest reply: Dec 28, 2012 8:30 PM by MacStalgia
kkkttt Level 1 Level 1

I have an old eMac, version 10.4.11, PowerPC G4. I tried to install the upgrade software DVD to version 10.5 (Leopard) and discovered today that "super"drive is not working. I tried other DVD movies and they will not play also. After some time, it spits them out.


I tested a CD and it played the music; it does work.


After doing a bit of research on the web, cleaning the DVD unit doesn't seem to solve the problem (even though that is the first thing that people recommend). I don't remember the last time I ever played a DVD on the computer (probably years) so really this superdrive was not used much - this shouldn't be happening. I probably used it last to upgrade to the 10.4 version years ago. Did the upgrade cause a malfunction? I thought a Mac component is suppose to be almost indestructable and generally of high quality?


I also went into Disk Utility and performed the "Repair Disk Permissions" two times in a row. No change. (I didn't reboot, though, but I find it hard to think that it would solve the issue anyways.) After reading others complaints about this issue, one common fact was that this problem was possibly causes from installing an upgrade. Is this possible?


Please assist me with a detailed explanation on what is really causing the DVD only to not work, and any solution if possible.


(Yes, I know I have an old Mac but am not able to get a new one anytime soon.) I really wanted to upgrade it to the latest software though, since I had purchased it a while ago.


If the DVD cannot be repaired, is there an affordable external firewire DVD unit that anyone can recommend that will work great?


Thank you very much.

PowerMac4,4, Mac OS X (10.4.11)
  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7

    Let's start here: Are you sure you had a SuperDrive all along? For many eMac4,4 machines, the SuperDrive was a pricy upgrade, about US$200 at the time. Does System Profiler (in Applications > Utilities) show the drive?


    Was the Leopard disk a full retail install disk like this:



    or it a  gray sustem install/retore disk from another Mac usually won't work, and one from an Intel iMac won't work at all because it has no code for older PPC macs.

  • kkkttt Level 1 Level 1

    Hi Allan,

    Thank you for replying. The inside of the disk drawer say SuperDrive (along with the serial #'s).


    I clicked on "Disk Burning", under "Hardware", in Utilities and this is what is says:



      Firmware Revision:    A43h

      Interconnect:    ATAPI

      Burn Support:    Yes (Apple Shipped/Supported)

      Cache:    8192 KB

      Reads DVD:    Yes

      CD-Write:    -R, -RW

      DVD-Write:    -R, -RW, +R, +RW

      Burn Underrun Protection CD:    Yes

      Burn Underrun Protection DVD:    Yes

      Write Strategies:    CD-TAO, CD-SAO, CD-Raw, DVD-DAO

      Media:    No


    Is there another category I need to look at where it should say "superdrive"?


    That is the disc I have for Leopard that I tried to upgrade today. (By the way, that is neat how you showed the clipart of the disc.). I have the retail box and packaging (with the mini book). The packaging says the requirements for install are: with an Intel, PowerPC G5, or PowerPC G4 (867MHz or faster) processor; 512MB of physical RAM; DVD drive for installation.


    Here is some other information from my system if it should be of help:

    Macintosh HD:

      Capacity:    74.53 GB

      Available:    8.1 GB

      Writable:    Yes

      File System:    Journaled HFS+

      BSD Name:    disk0s9

      Mount Point:    /


    Not sure where else to look to see if the RAM is sufficient and if the MHz meets the minimum.




  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7

    Hi Kathy,


    OK, the System Profiler report confirms your observation from the serial number sticker, and that the system recognizes the drive.


    To see your processor speed and installed RAM, simply do "About this Mac" from your Apple menu (here comes another picture!):




    4,4 eMacs were made in three speeds: 700mHz; 800mHz- and 1GHz. Only the latter can install Leopard without resorting to third-party hacks.


    I see one thing that concerns me in the hard drive info: You may not have enough free space for an new system install using Archive and Install. A&I keeps the old system until you toss it and still puts in a new one. I looked at the only PPC Mac we have with Leopard installed, and the Library and System folders alone are nearly 6GB of disk space.


    Even without upgrading, I don't like to see less than 10 percent free space on a drive. OSX has to write Virtual Memory files to the drive, and looks for a certain size of available, writeable blocks. The less RAM and free space you have, the longer it can take to do the writes until the system bogs down.


    Did you use a drive cleaning disk on the SuperDrive? They are much more effective than using canned air to clean the lenses. I've worked on several Macs where an Apple tech had pronounced the optical drive dead, but a cleaning disk had them doing a rather competent imitation of Lazarus.


    This is a link to the cleaner I have:



    It's a UK link but I bought mine in a friend's Audio-visual electronics store in beautiful downtown Lewiston Idaho. I'm sure you can find other sources.


    Let's work on this and then figure out if we need to go for an external optical drive. Those that are PPC/Mac-bootable are getting a little harder to find.


    Right now, I've worn out what meager typing skills I was allotted for the day, and hear a bottle of amber ale in the frig crying for release. I'll check back in the morning.



  • kkkttt Level 1 Level 1

    Here is my system info "About this Mac":


    Version 10.4.11


    Processor  1 GHz PowerPC G4


    Memory  768 MB SDRAM


    Startup Disk  Macintosh HD


    TM & c 1983-2007 Apple Inc.


    About the available memory, that is not good news as I was looking forward to having the next (and final) upgrade on this machine. I have already been used to the system running very slow at times so it is nothing new to me.


    I have not used a drive cleaning disk but have read others that tried it. I did not know which kind I needed that wouldn't harm my computer further. Thank you for the link, that was helpful. I found a location of a retailer that suppose to carry this brand that I will be near this weekend. I will call them ahead to see if they have it. If not, then there is no one else in my area that they sell it to and I couldn't find that manufacturer on eBay. But I did find this one, by Endust. What do you think about it? /300743525423?pt=US_Cleaning_Repair_Kits&hash=item4605b6042f

    And how much did you pay for the Ixos cleaner in Idaho, please?


    Enjoy the ale!

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7

    Good morning, Kathy.


    The ale was refreshing. We're on the last of our three-diget temps this week so a cool one hit the spot. I've had my morning walk and ready for the day's excitement.


    Here is my system info "About this Mac":


    Your images did not come through. Can you confirm that System Profiler identifies your eMac with the Machine Model "PowerMac4,4." If it is "6,4" instead, that's probably good because you'll have faster USB 2.0 ports and can install upto 2GB RAM. the 4,4 has slower USB 1.1 ports and can hold no more taht 1G of RAM


    I think I paid about US$15 for my IXOS disk but that was at a smalll retail store and I don't mind helping my friend the owner by "buying local."


    Can't tell a lot about the eBay item. The IXOS has tiny brushes that are apparently charged with static electricity when you run the disk, After removing it you touch a metal film on the "up" side of the disk to discharge the brushes, letting them drop whatever they've picked up.


    Other systems use a cleaning liquid. I have no idea if that's completely safe but I opted for the brush type "just in case." Two of my computers are Mac notebooks with very tiny optical drives that , if damp, could take a while to dry out. So I went "brushes."


    If the computer will start, I'd work on seeing what's on the hard drive that you can dump, or at least move to an external device. Heck, USB thumb drives are getting so cheap that they've almost become the new floppy disk. You may be able to find an 8GB thumb drive for under $10 if you watch for sales.


    Another thing that can sometimes help free up a little space is running the periodic maintenance scripts; one runs daily, anther weekly, and the third monthly.. These are suppose to run automatically in the wee hours of the morning but, on older Mac OS versions, they require that the computer be on and not sleeping. Not a terribly effective way; it's been fixed in newer OS versions. Once run, the scripts can clean up a lot of cache files and other stuff that manages to build up on the hard drive over the years.


    You can run the scripts with the Terminal utility in your Utilities folder or get free software to do it for you. I use Terminal because some of the free software may actually do more that you need. This article tells all about it:


    Running the Mac OS X maintenance scripts


    Read it and post back if it sounds too daunting before trying the scripts or getting a third-party utility.

  • kkkttt Level 1 Level 1



    I had my system info in a word document and I just copied it over but it didn't work.


    Here it is:


    Version 10.4.11

    Processor 1 GHz PowerPC G4

    Memory 768 MB SDRAM

    Startup Disk Macintosh HD


    About the USB ports, I am bummed to find out the other day that my computer  will not run USB 2 even though I have a USB 2 hub (apparently, my Mac recongnizes only as a USB 1). I can't use an iPad (which is a major bummer) because I can not link it to my system, even if I upgrade to 10.5, because of the USB interface.


    I appreciate the info on the disc drive cleaner. The brush type cleaner makes more sense.


    I will work on freeing some space also.


    I did know about the periodic maintenance scripts. Great to know. I will read the link that you provided and will post if I am not sure about it so I don't make a mess of things further.


    Thanks again, and I will work on cleaning my dvd drive hopefully before the end of the weekend after I find it.

  • kkkttt Level 1 Level 1

    This is a follow-up:

    I tried the Allsop Ultra ProLens Cleaner (with brushes) at least several times and my DVD still does not work. Since I am on a limited budget, I found an option to purchase a Mac G5 desktop, 1.6Ghz, 17" screen with a 1gb RAM at a reasonable price. I will see if I can get to that next month. But I have an option with that to upgrade to a 2gb RAM for an additional $75. Do you think this is really necessary?


    I have had my current computer for about 9-10 years and have numerous photos and documents saved since and it is not full yet. I would like to see how much of the 768 MB SDRAM memory I have used up so far. I went into System Profiler and selected Memory and this is the information that it shows:



    Size: 512 MB

    Type SDRAM

    Speed: PC133U-333

    Status: OK


    Does this indicate that I have used 512 MB SDRAM memory so far?

  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10

    Does this indicate that I have used 512 MB SDRAM memory so far?

    That means you only have 512MB of RAM to start with, do the other slots show empty?


    As far as G5 1.6GHz Ram...


  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7

    Hi Kathy,


    Well, I guess the DVD side of the drive is dead--not unheard of.


    The G5 iMac 17" you describe, according to the MacTracker database, has two RAM slots, each of which can accept a 1G memory module for a total of 2GB or RAM. OS 10.5 on a PowerPC mac like the G5 needs as much RAM as you can throw at it. Whether the offered price to upgrade the RAM to its max is a good deal depends on:


    1) whether the current RAM load is one 1G module or two 512MB modules. Both configs would show as 1G of RAM. You'd have to run System Profielr on the G5 to see what it has in each slot.

    2) whether you are comforatble installing RAM yourself


    If there are two 512MB modlules installed, you 'd have to remove both to install two 1-giggers. The vendor I use for RAM will sell two 1G modules for US$48 plus shipping, about $5 to most places in the lower 48. That means the charge to do the install is about $25, which is reasonable if you feel you don't want to do it yourself.


    If the computer already has one 1G module and an open slot, adding one 1-Gig module to get to a total of 2G would be $25 plus shipping, making the install fee offered higher.


    You can look at an installation video to decide if you can "DIY." These are labeled for the 20-inch model but linked from the 17-inch, so the procedure must be about the tsame:



    Something to watch for: some G5 iMAc had a bad habit of developing pixel-width light lines across the monitor. Most had serial numbers starting with "W8." Don't buy "sight-unseen"--you want to inspect it for yourself. If there is even one such line, run--don't walk--away; it will only get worse and the problem is not user-fixable. This was traced to a bad batch of displays used at the factory with the W8 code. If it hasn't developed these lines by now it's probably OK.

  • MichelPM Level 6 Level 6

    You are confusing RAM memory with actual Hard drive data storage.

    The two are very different.

    RAM is used to store temporary instructions that are used to operate your eMac.

    Data is stored on a hard drive. A hard drive stores data on glass platters covered in iron oxide that are subjected to magnetic impulses that read and write data to a drive.

    This is where your photos, music and videos are stored.

    Your eMac came with either a 60 or 80 GB hard drive. If there is less 16 GBs of space left on the drive, there maybe no room left to be able to install OS X 10.5 Leopard.

    You need to click on the hard drive icon on your desktop, type keys Command-I to get the info about your hard drive.

    This will tell you how much space on the hard drive has been used and what space is remaining on the drive.

    It appears that the other 128 RAM stick in your eMac is either not seated in its slot properly or is defective because your system profiler is only now seeing the 512 stick of RAM when earlier it was seeing the whole 768 MBs of RAM.


    The DVD portion of the SuperDrive may have failed. There are two lasers and lenses in a SuperDrive. One to read/write CDs, the other to read/write DVDs. The DVD laser and lens may no longer be working.

    You can use an external CD/DVD writer.

    These are still available and many are quite good.

    You need one that uses a FireWire connector as this connection is the fastes connection on your eMac and the external writer will perform best using this FireWire Connection.


    As far as using an iPad, once OS X 10,5 Leopard is installed you can use your eMac's USB 1.1 connection with the iPad.

    The process of backing up and updating the iPad over USB 1.1 will just take longer, that's all.


    As far as purchasing a used G5 I would strongly advise against this.

    Do not wast your hard earned money.

    The last G series Mac was made seven years, ago.

    These Macs along with the eMacs and their technologies are obsolete now.

    I do not know how limited your budget is or where you reside, but I would spend a little more and get a more up to date, but used Mac.

    Newer Macs use the Intel processor chip. Any Mac from mid- 2007, to say, late 2009 would be Macs to look at to purchase. You may spend a little more, but you would be more up to date with the current state of Apple and the Mac.

    I would look for a Mac that is still running or can run OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. OS X Snow Leopard is the last Mac OS to run older software like you have on your eMac on Macs that use newer Intel chips.

    You can search for used Macs on eBay or search for Used Mac resellers or used Mac authorized resellers to find pricing for used Intel Macs.

    Buying through a reseller is better as you usually get some sort of limited warranty time.

    I purchased this way 4 months ago. I bought a used 2009 27 inch iMac and have an extended 6-month to one year warranty that I need tomoaynto extend to that year.

    On a used Mac, I think it's worth it if the Mac has issues within that year. The reseller is obligated to fix it it under the terms of the warranty.

    My sage advice here.

    Good Luck!

  • Allan Jones Level 7 Level 7

    Me again,


    I have had my current computer for about 9-10 years and have numerous photos and documents saved since and it is not full yet. I would like to see how much of the 768 MB SDRAM memory I have used up so far.


    I'm starting to get the impression that you may be getting RAM ("memory") confused with "free space on the hard drive." RAM is temporary storage for fast access to data; it's called "volatile" because it only lasts while the comptuer is running in the current session. Memory (RAM) use goes up and down during a session depending on how many programs are open and how much RAM each demands at any point in time as it does its job.


    The hard drive is for long-term storage that is persitent even when power is off. Its space changes slowly as you used the computer over the years.


    To see how much hard drive space is used v. available. single-click your hard drive icon on the desktop and then do "Get info..." which is command i. You can also do control click on the hard drive icon to see the "Get Info" option in a contextual menu. either way ot looks like this:


    volume_ get_info_box.png

    In the example, my 4.5 year old MacBook Pro still has 81G of free disk space.

  • kkkttt Level 1 Level 1

    Hello Allen,

    Thank you (and others for replying) for the computer lesson on memory - I need it. I am not sure if the G5 computer that I may get (although still an old model) has one 1G or two 512MB modules. But I was quoted $375, which would include the following: the G5 computer; set up; transfer of my information from my current Mac; and 2gb RAM.


    But I am also concerned with the possible pixel issues on the display, as you had mentioned.


    Maybe I should hold out on a newer Mac in the future if my finances improve.

  • BDAqua Level 10 Level 10

    Maybe I should hold out on a newer Mac in the future if my finances improve.

    I love my G5, but sanity would require waiting for your finances to imprve... unless they're going backwards like mine!

  • kkkttt Level 1 Level 1

    Hi BDAqua,

    You got a point. I would not have had a problem still keep my old eMac if the DVD drive still worked and I was able to upgrade to the next version (10.5).  So it is now annoying me and I now believe it is better to have somewhat of a better computer (G5), since I am very limited on funds, than live with extreme limited capabilities as I am now for a long time to come. But I will check to make sure the display does not have a defect as Allen mentioned.



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