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Mac G4 inquiry, not HTPC

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I am sorry, if this is the wrong forum to post in.


So I still have a G4 with two internal hard drives.  I was loading some music via a flash drive and an error message popped up that said, “Startup disk is Full”.  I have two hard drives, one is running 10.4.9, the other was running 10.5.6.  I was working in the 10.5.6 drive when I received this error message.  I decided that since I received this EM and was experiencing other problems with this drive, that I would reformat it back to 10.5 and update it back up.  When I put in the install disk and tried to restart, I got the following Error message, “Startup disk is full, cannot restart computer”.  I tried a couple of times and cleared most of the junk off of my desktop, but still had the EM.


So I figured since I have two drives, I would manually turn off the computer and restart it in target mode to load the 10.4.9 drive. 


With the install disk in the computer, I turned off the computer, and guess what….now it won’t turn back on!  So apparently, the EM(“Startup disk is full, cannot restart computer”) was true and now my Mac won’t even turn on.


Colour me dumb, but I was hoping that some of you may have run into this before and might know of a fix to get it back on. So at least I can manage the damage.


I started searching through Apples archives and found that I may be able to turn it back on, with another Mac(Kinda like a Jump start), but I am not familiar with the process.


Has anyone ever experienced something like this?  Does anyone have a suggestions on how to proceed?


I did join a few message boards last nite to post, and have yet to get responses.  I was hoping that someone may have some insight into this.


Any help is appreciated.

post #2 of 6
Well, you have to be able to boot your Mac in order to do any HTPC task, so your question is perfectly valid here.

Which Mac are we talking about, exactly?

I've never gotten that message, but I still (technically) own 5 "G4" Macs--a 12" and a 15" Powerbook, a Cube, and two dual G4 MDD PowerMacs--so I have had some experience keeping them running and viable. Old G4s, especially old desktop G4s can be very quirky, for instance there's a little PRAM battery in my G4 towers that when it starts to fail can cause all sorts of different little errors. If you knew your exact make and model you can look up how to reset things like the PMU or PRAM, both of which can be linked to startup errors.
I have two hard drives, one is running 10.4.9, the other was running 10.5.6. I was working in the 10.5.6 drive when I received this error message. I decided that since I received this EM and was experiencing other problems with this drive, that I would reformat it back to 10.5 and update it back up

Were both of these drives installed in the Mac? If they were, they both would have been mounted on the desktop, why didn't you just go into System Preferences and try to startup off of the 10.4.9 disk?

Do you have another Mac and if so, is it PPC or Intel? Do you have any firewire external drive enclosures that you could pop your "startup" drives in?

Can I also assume that you do not have a SuperDuper clone?
post #3 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanx for the reply.


It is a PowerMac G4(MDD) 2x1.25GHz, circa 2003.  Both drives came installed, back in '03 and yes, they were both mounted on the Desktop.


I currently do not have any other Macs, just an Dell laptop. 


No, it is not a Superdrive clone.


Short story long. 

I thought that I was tapped out at 10.4.9 for a few years, then my brother told me that it should mount 10.5.  Since my mom had that, I decided to try on my 2nd Drive(HD 2).  It mounted and seemed to work fine.  As I migrated my files over from HD1 to HD2, it began to act 'quirky', but since only 10.5 could stream to my ATVII, I kept up with it.


When I tried to move some MP3 files from my vifes laptop(Dell) via flash drives, I began seeing the EM"Startup Disk is almost full".  Then after loading everything, I started getting popup EM's about the Startup Disk being full.


I decided that since it was acting quirky and all of these EM's were popping up, that I should just reformat back to 10.5 and start over again.


So with the 10.5 install disk loaded, I followed the prompts to go to restart, and got the "Startup Disk is Full, cannot restart" EM.


I figured(wrongly apparently) that since I had two HD's that if I just turned it off and started it again in target mode, that I could just select HD1(running 10.4.9) and continue on from there.


Well, now it won't even turn on.  I hold down the power button and the light will show, but no drive will bootup.  As soon as I let go of the power button, the light turns off and the tower is dead.


I have changed the battery before and am somewhat familiar with the towers inner workings, I have had the unit for almost ten years now, however, I do not know if a simple PMU reset will work.


I will try when I get home, if you think that it can't hurt.


My main concern is the 70Gbs of music, plus a few home movies, and tons of pix can be salvaged.  Most, were on HD1, and since I was in the process of migrating to HD2, I had yet to delete off of HD1.


But...if I fried the whole unit, that would really, I mean really suck.  Plus I haven't old my vife yet, but she'll find out if she starts trying to find stuff through the ATVII, and they aren't there anymore...


Sorry for the long post, most is rambling, but I hope some of it can help you direct me to the right course.

post #4 of 6
so I have your exact model, and you're going through what many, many MDD PowerMac owners have already experienced, besides replacing the PRAM battery there's another issue that affects these MDDs--the power supply starting to fail. If you feel like resurrecting your MDD, you might look around for a used one on Craigslist, they're dirt cheap these days, then transfer its power supply to your MDD to try to keep it running.

First, though, I'd leave the power cord unplugged for a while, remove the battery, wait 24 hours, put the battery back in and then try again. Then if that fails buy another PRAM battery and repeat. There have been a million threads in Apple forums over the years about MDD PowerMacs not starting up. Look around for them and assume that this is your real problem. Try this first, then you can consider whether you want to swap the power supply, but frankly, you can probably find a working MDD on Craigslist for $50 and then simply install or connect the drives to it. If you're not wedded to the MDD in particular, any slightly newer Mac that you bought should be able to retrieve those files for you and serve as your Apple TV server.

If you had another Mac, the standard advice would be to remove your boot drives, put them in a firewire enclosure for PATA drives, and then mount them on that other Mac, you can recover all your files and even test booting from them. Nine year old PATA drives do fail, but the odds of both of your drives failing at the exact same time is low. My guess is your data is safe, that all you need to do is connect it to another Mac over firewire and you'll be fine.

Where do you live?
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanx again for the reply.


I currently have it unplugged.


I live north of Tampa FL.  My mom has an iMac, running 10.5, but she's in North FL.  If all else fails, I can load up my G4 and road trip it up there, I know she would want to see the kids, so I may make a long weekend of it.  However, it won't be for a few weeks yet.


In the mean time, I will try some of the leads, you have advised me.


As far as the G4 goes, I really dig it, since it was my first computer, but it is outdated, and Apple considers it obsolete.  The only problem with it is the noisy fan, there was a recall, back in '03/'04, but I never bothered, since I keep it in the computer room, and it never really bothered me.


I had a few Kernel issues a few years ago, but I got that straightened out back then.


I have been eyeballing the new Mac Mini, but figured that I would have to buy an external hard drive.  I thought that if I got a Mac Mini, that for a temporary time I could still use the HDs of off my G4, until I got something bigger 2 or even 3Tbs.


I will need to get the music, pix, and movies off of it, but as long as they aren't going anywhere(do inactive HDs decay?), I can wait until I find another way.


Again, thanx "chefklc" for all of your input, and if anyone else has suggestions, keep 'em coming.

post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 

I got my G4 up and running.


I reset the PMU, changed the battery, and used my neighbors G4 laptop to turn on my G4 while in "target disk mode".


I am not sure exactly how it worked, but it worked.

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