Strange B&W Powermac Problems

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Joined: Nov 16 2008
Posts: 3

I'm new here at Applefritter, so hello from Fort Wayne!

I thought I might try your ears here with the crazy problems I've been having the last week with my Blue & White Powermac G3. I bought it about 6 months ago for $5 at a garage sale; it was still pretty much standard, but with upgraded RAM (to 128 MB) and Panther installed. I wiped it, and upgraded the RAM to 384 MB with Tiger, using it as a file server.

But a couple of weeks ago, my iMac G3 400MHz started having problems, and I decided I was tired of Tiger on it, so I was going to downgrade to Panther. During the install (but after I wiped my HD), it told me the disc had problems. I didn't have any CD-Rs to burn a new copy from my backup images, so I brought out the Powermac to see if it could use the disc any more reliably, as in my experience the tray drives seem to perform better than slot-loaders.

I got Panther installed after a few tries, realizing that it was hanging during the BSD subsystem installation and skipping that part. I then upgraded the RAM to a full GB. It was working pretty well, and I had some stuff installed on it, and some of the updates, but the first strange thing that I noticed was that Software Update wasn't finding all of the updates that I knew should be there, even the 10.3.9 combined update, thus leaving me with straight 10.3. So I started looking online for a few things, such as an updated iTunes, etc.

Well, while looking online, I happened to mention some of the new Get A Mac ads to my brother, who told me he hadn't seen one of them. I went to apple.com/getamac, and it told me I needed to upgrade to the newest version of Quicktime, so I went to mac.oldapps.com and found the newest version Panther could handle: 7.4.1, and downloaded it. I installed it, and I'm pretty sure it told me to restart, so I did.

When I started back up and logged in normally, the Finder tried to start itself, and then, with only half the menu bar loaded (the clock and other stuff on the right hand side hadn't finished), it 'Unexpectedly Quit'. I could look at the Dock, and launch applications from there, but after a couple minutes of running any of them, they too would 'Unexpectedly Quit'. I decided I'd probably installed something wrong, so booted into OS 9 and slowly dragged my 3 GB+ of personal files over to my PC using a 256MB memory stick, and tried to reinstall Panther. Halfway through the installation process, it comes up with "There were errors installing the software, please try installing again." After a number of tries, and having it stop in different places, even with trying a minimal install, I tried installing Tiger again. That did the same thing. OS 9 was the only thing I could get to run stably on it.

Then I had an idea. I took the HD out of my iMac and put it into the Powermac. It booted Tiger perfectly fine. So I took the Powermac's HD and put it into the iMac and installed Tiger, and put it back into the Powermac. But now I cannot get it to install any updates or anything, even though they appear in Software Update and download; the Installer either says that there were errors installing the software or it quits unexpectedly. I was going to try and install the 1.1 firmware update, but it requires OS 9, which hangs while trying to boot from my CD. While trying to get that to work, I found out I already had the newer firmware, but OS 9 still refuses to boot from the CD.

So it's a very strange predicament. Sorry I presented it in story form, it's longer, but I thought it would be more interesting to read, and would leave out fewer details. I've figured that it's not a memory issue, nor a hard drive or DVD-ROM drive issue, and its not any of the IDE cables. I can't think of anything. Thanks for reading this far, to anyone who actually makes it though this.

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Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Joined: Jan 20 2005
Posts: 1434
I get lost trying to figure o

I get lost trying to figure out when you're talking about the iMac and when you're talking about the B&W. You're trying to do a clean install of Panther onto a freshly formatted hard drive? You formatted it with the Panther disks' Disk Utility and included the OS 9 drivers (best to write zeros also)? Are the installation disks retail or for the iMac specifically (are they gray?)? It sounds like it could be a problem with the formatting. Both the iMac and B&W firmwares are up to date?

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Joined: Nov 16 2008
Posts: 3
Sorry about the confusion wit

Sorry about the confusion with the iMac, but it's used as a sort of verfication that the disks are okay, and other than the scratched Panther disc, it is working fine. But yes, all the discs are retail discs, the hard drive has been formatted with Disk Utility with the OS 9 drivers and it has been zeroed a couple of times during my trials. The firmware of the computers are up to date.

Pretty much, the gist of the story is that after installing Quicktime 7.4.1 onto my B&W G3 with Panther, the system became completely unstable, and OS X refused and continues to refuse to install. I put its hard drive into the iMac, wiped it and installed Tiger (since my Panther disc was scratched) and then replaced it into the B&W, which boots from it. But now it (the B&W) refuses to update from basic 10.4, and OS 9 won't boot at all (it freezes at the 'Welcome to Macintosh' window before the OS actually starts to load)

I apologize for the length and nonclarity of my original post. Thanks for actually wading through all that.

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Joined: Oct 19 2005
Posts: 9
Reset button on the MOBO.

I have worked on many problematic B&W's when they were still around and needing service. I have found that many times if I did not use a small checklist I would overlook something small and wind up tearing a machine down to its min config and try to build it from there. The one thing I can suggest is that you hit the reset button on the MOBO and then restart with the AOPR and hold it down until it makes a third chime.

There are about 20 other things to try as well. You can use the disk util off of a start up disc to repair the OK drive and with verify and repair. Hope this helps. PM for more help. Peter in SD.

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Fixing old Macs is cool.

Eudimorphodon's picture
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Joined: Dec 21 2003
Posts: 1204
RAM

So, my guess is you have RAM installed that the system doesn't like. My old B&W came with 544MB installed in it, which I attempted to upgrade to a full gig by replacing three existing smaller DIMMs with a trio of 256MB DIMMs from an old P3 system. (Which had worked perfectly in said system, which was an always-on Linux server, for years.) To make a long story short, the formerly stable system went completely in the toilet. It started corrupting network downloads and files on-disk, kernel panicking, and finally completely trashing the installed OS during a Software Update. All those problems went away when I pulled the new RAM and went back to what had come in the box.

Anyway. Those older systems are *incredibly* picky about RAM, and the built-in BIOS RAM test is absolutely useless. I know there are a few options out there for doing a more thorough test, you may want to look into them.

--Peace

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Joined: Nov 16 2008
Posts: 3
Well, it was a memory problem

Well, it was a memory problem. I fished through my stack of extra RAM, and after several tests, found a 128MB stick that booted correctly, and after the installation and updates, it works fine (I'm writing this post on it). I guess the culprit was not a botched Quicktime installation, but the 256MB SDRAM sticks that I bought a while back. They were really cheap, but they worked in my G3 iMac... Oh well. I'm going to be back down to 320MB. Can any of you guys recommend a place to buy B&W compatible RAM?

Thanks for all your help,
-Northcott

Hawaii Cruiser's picture
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Joined: Jan 20 2005
Posts: 1434
Like Eudi says, the B&W is VE

Like Eudi says, the B&W is VERY picky about RAM (the headaches I remember going through with my B&W's!). Take my word for it, get matching RAM. The best thing is three identical sticks of 256mb--stability and speed. If you want to match what you've got already, here's a place to find specs:
http://www.chipmunk.nl/DRAM/ChipManufacturers.htm
SDRAM should be dirt cheap since it was plentiful and is now completely obsolete. If you post the specs on what you've got, someone here may have a matching stick or two for you cheap.