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Fixing a Mac PowerBook G4 which Wouldn't Boot Sometimes (In Surrey)

Updated on December 3, 2012
Power button has nothing wrong.
Power button has nothing wrong.
OSX installation error.
OSX installation error.
Grey disc is hardware specific.
Grey disc is hardware specific.
Restoring a OSX dmg from USB drive.
Restoring a OSX dmg from USB drive.
Destination
Destination
Restart from OSX partition
Restart from OSX partition
Update OSX to 10.5.8
Update OSX to 10.5.8
Battery shows 1.5 hours.
Battery shows 1.5 hours.
Illuminated keyboard
Illuminated keyboard
A crack on the plastic panel inside appeared as a bright area after adding a film below.
A crack on the plastic panel inside appeared as a bright area after adding a film below.
Full LCD screen
Full LCD screen
Mac G4 screen and keyboard.
Mac G4 screen and keyboard.

I traded in this Apple PowerBook G4 on 29Sep2012. According to the owner, this Powerbook wouldn't boot up sometimes. He provided 2 grey installation discs to me.

This was the first Mac that I had chance to try and test. I was eager to take it apart and see inside thinking that the power button should be defective for the boot up problem. The alluminum casing was pretty easy to disassemble. I checked the power button. It does not have problem. If not hardware, the problem must be on the OS 10.5.8 that it was running. I tried the Software Update which could not run.

I decided to run the installation disc to restore the OSX. The installation program rejected with error "Mac OS X cannot be installed on this computer." I checked the label on the disc. It has "MacBook Pro Mac OS X Install Disc 1, Mac OS 10.5.2". It appears that Mac installation disc is hardware specific.

To get a right OS disc, it costs $50 the lowest. I decided to install Ubuntu 10.04 which works on PPC. The installation was successful except wireless was not working. After downloading the wireless driver update, the wireless works. When I tested YouTube video, it had problem on gettng the Flash Player. I had no choice but back to installing OSX 10.5 back to this G4.

Although the gery disc could not install OSX, it allows me to go to Disk Utility. I erased and recreated two partitions inside the 80G hard drives. I named them "Macintosh HD" and "Mac OS X install 10.5".

From Windows PC, I downloaded a Mac OS X 10.5 dmg file to a USD drive which the G4 can reconginse in the Disk Utility. I selected the "Mac OS X install 10.5" and clicked Restore. On the Image icon, I browsed to the dmg image. The restore was successful. I started the G4 again from the "Mac OS X install 10.5" partition. At boot up, the installation was successful. I ran the Software Update. This time, it could be updated to 10.5.8. The boot up does not have problem anymore.

I ran YouTube. Video is working. I installed the lastest version Flash Player 10.1.102.64 and tested again. Both video and sound are good.

The illuminated keyboard with ambient light sensor is working. The LCD screen has a 1 cm bright slanted line started from the lower left corner upwards. I disassembled the screen and found that it has a crack on the plastic panel which the G4 should have been dropped on floor because it has a den on the body at the same corner. From a broken LCD screen, I cut a piece from the film which defuses the light to make it less obvious. The LCD screen has 1 dead pixel and a small bright area.

The battery holds charge for 1 hour 30 minutes. With OSX reinstalled, it is running good again. It was picked up by a young man on 3Dec2012.


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