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I'm trying to help a friend fix their MacBook, and I've run out of ideas. I've gone through every resource I can find, so hopefully someone has some insight into this problem.

When the machine starts up, it gets to the gray screen with the apple logo and spinning wheel, and goes no further. Safe boot is not possible; it stops at the same gray screen, but will automatically restart if left alone for a few minutes.

I've tried running Disk Utility, but it said the disk was fine. I've also tried an Archive & Install, but it had no effect on the problem.

Is there anything else I can do to diagnose the problem, or are there any common problems with similar symptoms?

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If you cannot boot the MacBook, how were you able to run Disk Utility? Did you boot an install disc? Which version of MacBook is this? Have you run Apple's hardware diagnostics? – irrational John May 19 '12 at 2:15
Yes, I booted to an install disk. The OS X version is 10.6, I'm not sure what version the MacBook is. I haven't tried the hardware diagnostics, I'll do that now. – zsuper May 19 '12 at 2:23
Ah, it looks like the hard disk failed. Booting in verbose mode is giving a lot of 'disk0s2: 0xe0030005 (UNDEFINED)' – zsuper May 19 '12 at 2:32
Did you run Apple's Hardware Test? Well, if it is a SATA drive, it should be easy enough to pull the drive and test it on another system. Just be careful handling it. (The drive probably contains the warning "do not push on top cover". Pay attention to it! :) – irrational John May 19 '12 at 2:53
Yes, I did the hardware test and ran fsck. Both returned no problems. fsck says the file system was modified, but also says no problems were found. If it wasn't fixable, the back up plan was to replace the hard drive, so I guess I'll just do that regardless. – zsuper May 19 '12 at 3:18

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