11 Replies Latest reply: Apr 27, 2013 1:35 PM by Kenichi Watanabe
noospy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

Hi everyone, I recently got a 1st generation iMac G4 with OS 9.2. I updated RAM to 768 mb and now I'd like to install Tiger on it. I found my old Tiger DVD but it looks like the DVD drive in to the iMac doesn't work properly. When I put in the DVD, it spins a little bit and than is expelled. After a few attempts, I was able to make the iMac read it, and open the installer, but when I pressed the Restart button I got an error saying that the CD (??) could not be set as startup device. It was indeed grayed out in the Startup Disk Control Panel. I don't know whether the problem is the DVD drive or the disk itself (which looks a bit scratchy).


On the Internet I found out that I could try to boot via FireWire on an external HDD. I had the .dmg of the Tiger DVD I did when I bought the original disk, and with the Restore option I put the image on the drive (1 TB, FW400 MyBook, previously formatted in a single partition using Apple Partition Map) so that it can be recognized by OS9 as a bootable DVD. And indeed it is. The problem is that, again, when I press the restart button in the Install Mac OS X program I get the same error massage saying: "Startup Disk was unable to select the install CD as the startup disk (-2)". This time, though, I can manage to manually set the external drive as the startup disk, but when I reboot I get the "question mark icon" (which usually means that the Mac is unable read the partition selected), and then it reboots in OS9. I cannot understand if the partition I created is not bootable, or if the drive is not read by the open firmware on boot. If I boot with the option key depressed, the only boot option I get is the internal HDD, and I can't manage to see the external HDD: I tried to change cable, change ports, press refresh button multiple times, but it doesn't see the FireWire drive. I also tried to reset NVRAM (which brought back to life the internal speaker), open firmware and PMU, in this order, but this didn't solve the problem.


So what else can I do? Thank you for your help, I hope my English was good enough for you to understand the problem :)



iMac, Mac OS 9.2.x, iMac G4 800 MHz
  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)

    The disc needs to a "retail" disc (the type sold separately for PowerPC Macs that can run Tiger), not a disc that came with another Mac model (including Intel Macs).  Is the disc, and the source used for the FireWire attempt, a retail Mac OS X installation disc?

  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)

    Also, I vaguely recalled a problem with WD external FireWire drives being bootable.  I found this...




    and it has a LONG list of WD external drives that are NOT bootable over FireWire on PowerPC Macs.  So that may or may not be a problem in your situation.

  • noospy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes, the disc is the retail version, I purchased it years ago. The problem is the hard drive, since I found mine (MyBook Home Edition) in the "not be bootable on Power PC based Mac" list that you linked me. :( Thank you so much, now I know what the problem is. But I still need to install Tiger on the iMac. What can I do? I only have Intel Macs so I don't think I can install it on the iMac putting it into Target Disk mode..

  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)

    If the reason you cannot install directly using that disc is because the G4 iMac's optical drive is flakey, and you have some other Mac with an optical drive and FireWire, you can try it this way...


    Start up the Intel Mac (not the G4 iMac) in FireWire Target Disk Mode




    The G4 iMac should be started up normally, connected to the Intel Mac over FireWire.  Insert the Tiger disc into the Intel Mac's optical drive.  See if it appears on the G4 iMac's Desktop.  If it does, see if the G4 iMac can use the Intel iMac's optical drive to run the installation.


    NOTE:  Depending on the Mac model in FireWire Target Disk Mode, its optical drive is not always accessible in this way to the "host" Mac.

  • noospy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Yes, I have a MacBookPro with optical drive, but with a FW800 port only. Unfortunately, I don't have a FW400-to-FW800 adapter, I need to buy it. Do you think it will work through the adapter? Or I will have to wait a week or more for my father to come back with my old polycarbonate MacBook. Anyways, thank you very much for your help, you probably solved my problem :)

  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)

    It should work through an adapter, or with a cable that has FW800 (9-pin) on one end and FW400 (6-pin) on the other end.  Like this one



  • noospy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Unfortunately, it didn't work :( so the situation now is as follows: I bought a FW400-to-FW800 adapter on eBay, and it perfectly works; my mid-2010 MacBookPro (Snow Leopard) has a perfectly working SuperDrive; I have a copy of Tiger's retail DVD with some scratches and a copy of the same DVD I made from a disk image of Tiger that I made when I bought the disk some years ago.


    So I connected the 2 Macs via the FireWire cable+adapter, I booted the MacBook in Target Disk Mode and put the DVD (I tried with both of them) in the SuperDrive, and then turned on the iMac on OS 9.2, but nothing appears on it's desktop. On the System Profiler, in the Devices&Volumes tab, in the FireWire section I only see a kind of code that I also see when there's nothing plugged in. I tried to change FireWire ports but nothing happens, apart from the iMac freezing sometimes. Am I doing something wrong? Or is it the case my MacBook is not suitable to do this job?


    Thanks again

  • noospy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    This is what I see in the system profiler with the MacBook connected: [IMG]http://i39.tinypic.com/y2t0z.jpg[/IMG]

  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)

    Try it this way.  With the installation disc in the MacBook Pro (which is in FireWire Target Disk Mode), connect it to the old iMac while it is powered off.  Start it up while holding down the Option key, which should give you the Startup Manager screen




    (the screen will look somewhat different on your older iMac)


    If the Mac OS installation disk in the MacBook Pro appears on the list of choices, select it and try to continue startup.

  • noospy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thank you very much, this solution worked perfectly!! Finally I can use Tiger on my iMac! I could have become crazy without your help!! Thank you soooo much :)

  • Kenichi Watanabe Level 7 Level 7 (30,460 points)

    Excellent!  Thanks for reporting back with the outcome.