Okay, there's a lot of smart Mac guys here, so lets see if any of you can figure out this stumper.

Our Xserve G4 (RackMac1,1) went incommunicado a few years ago was left in this state until I pulled it out yesterday. I started my mission with a triple PRAM zap, and like clockwork it decided to boot perfectly into Mac OS X Tiger Server.

I decided to upgrade it to Leopard, this machine only has a CD drive, so I hooked it up to my MBP via FireWire and attempted to burn the install DVD to one of the hard drives (since all it's data is irrelevant / four years old anyhow). It starts copying just as always on the various computers I've done this to, it says "20 minutes remaining", so I leave the server room to go do other things. I come back 20 minutes later to a MBP saying "18 minutes remaining", and a shut down Xserve.

Rinse and repeat this process. Perhaps something weird happened.

I decide perhaps it doesn't like being in FireWire target disk mode and boot it back up to Tiger to download the disk image and burn it to the hard drive. After about 10 minutes of uptime, it just shuts down. Not even a soft shutdown. Total loss of power. I had some other stuff to do in the server room and after about 15 minutes I look back and there it is, fully booted, sitting at the login screen.

I ask you, what sentient force has made a victim of my Xserve?! :(

  • 1
    Have you done a hardware test? Sounds to me like a logic board went bye-bye, but I'm no expert. Apr 14 '11 at 23:52
  • Nope. That's next on the agenda.
    – wjl
    Apr 15 '11 at 0:09
  • All hardware tests, standard / extended pass. Reinstalling the 10.2 from a CD right now and it hasn't shutdown yet. Looks like we've got a heisenbug - it goes away upon investigation.
    – wjl
    Apr 18 '11 at 22:37
  • 2
    My guess.. overheating, logic board, or power supply fail.
    – Harv
    Apr 22 '11 at 3:15
  • 1
    Did you replace the internal battery? You also didn't mention if you had done any physical 'exam': blow out any dust, reseat ribbon cables, PCI boards, RAM carriers, etc. If the unit has really been in a closet for a while, it really needs to be checked out.
    – IconDaemon
    Feb 15 '13 at 17:19

The original G4 Xserve was prone to structural 'sagging' after spending a while in a rack. I'm not aware of any specific fix for this problem, which causes random kernel panics / shut-downs / other weirdness; later model XServes were not affected (not sure when exactly, but I've never seen this on any intel xserves, while I did see it on a significant number of g4 serves).


Sorry for the bummer news :/ If you can get your hands on a late-model intel xserve, they still hold up pretty well. I use several of them on a regular basis.


Make sure that the fans/blowers are connected and the heat sink is properly attached to the processor. Could be warming up and getting too hot and the thermal sensor tells the Xserve to shut off to save itself. Possible, but unlikely. Weird that it would restart.

Reset the PMU (power management unit). If it has been sitting a while this may help.

Replace the power supply.

Logic board replacement. You'd be better off getting a used working G5.

Just some thoughts...

Hope it helps.

  • Fans are at maximum making that "there's an Xserve announcing it's presence" sound. PMU reset also on the to-do list Monday. Thanks. :)
    – wjl
    Apr 15 '11 at 2:11

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