PowerBook G4 laptop no longer boots.

Hooked PowerBook G4 to another running Mac using Firewire and held down the 'T' key on boot up.

The Mac similar to the one I connected the PowerBook G4
This is a Mac similar to the one I connected the PowerBook G4

The non-booting drive now appears in the Disk Utility program as APPL FireWire Target Media with a partition of Macintosh HD. The partition is listed as /dev/disk1s3

I already tried fixing the issue using Disk Utility's verify and repair buttons, to no avail.

Next I tried using diskutil from the Terminal which appears to do pretty much the same thing as the gui version of Disk Utility output below:

PowerBook G4$ diskutil verifyVolume /dev/disk1s3
Started verify/repair volume (filesystem) on disk disk1s3 Macintosh HD
Checking Journaled HFS Plus volume
Checking Extents Overfile
Checking Catalog file
Invalid sibling link
The volume Macintosh HD need to be repaired
Error detected while verifying/repairing volume disk1s3 Macintosh HD: Filesystem verify or repair failed (-9957)
[ + 0%..10%..20%..30%..40%..50%..60%..70%..80%..90%..100% ]
Finished verify/repair volume (filesystem) on disk disk1s3 Macintosh HD
Error detected while verifying/repairing volume disk1s3 Macintosh HD: Filesystem verify or repair failed (-9957)

I tried using fsck_hfs /dev/disk1s3 from the Terminal, and got the following output:

** /dev/rdisk1s3
** Checking Journaled HFS Plus Volume
** Checking Extents Overflow file.
** Checking Catalog file.
   Invalid sibling link
(4, 19014)
** Rebuilding Catalog B-tree
** The volume Macintosh HD could not be repaired.

I also found some more brash things I could try, but I'm quite concerned about what they might do to the data existing on the laptop.

*So that is why I am asking if it might do any good to make a backup dmg (uncompressed and read / write) before I try any of the more brash commands that mess with the inodes of the disk. *

The Mac that the PowerBook G4 is connected to is very slow, but is presently creating a .dmg image of it's harddrive and I was just wondering if this would prove to be worth it, as it appears to be take a day or two to create the image uncompressed.

Though I'm competent in repairing Windows / Linux PC's, I'm new to repairing Macs and what I've written above was just my best guess at it.


Trying to create the dmg image failed with the following error:

Unable to create "Macintosh HD.dmg". (Input / output error)

Tried it again selecting the hard drive instead of the partition...will get back to you on what happens.

  • Got this computer back up and running a while ago, definitely a bad hdd which had to be replaced. – leeand00 Mar 9 '12 at 6:13
  • You can do with this question what you will, close it or whatever. – leeand00 Mar 9 '12 at 6:13
  • 1
    No reason to close it. It's a good question and the answers provided so far, and any it generates moving forward, will be useful for others faced with similar circumstances. – jaberg Mar 9 '12 at 14:18

If the volume mounts, you may be able to use rsync to back up as many files as you can get. You'll have to make sure you have enough space for them on your iMac G4.

The command you'll run will look like this: (make a new folder on your desktop to put all this in)

rsync -avxr /Volumes/Macintosh\ HD/* ~/Desktop/newfolder

This will attempt to move everything inside Macintosh HD to that new folder. It will skip over the things it can't transfer and keep going. With a bad volume like yours, this may be your best bet.

Good luck!


Based on the steps you've taken so far, I'd consider the likelihood of restoring this drive to be low. That is not to say you absolutely will not be able to reformat and reuse the drive, but that putting back in it's original state seems questionable. Data recovery is the next step.

Copy the data from the drive, particularly the User Data using any means you're comfortable with. Matt's suggestion of rsync is valid, but I'd consider SuperDuper!, Carbon Copy Cloner or even good old fashioned drag-n-drop from the Finder to be alternatives. If the mass-copy schemes fail, dragging the data one folder at a time, or performing the equivalent operation using the terminal, may become your a necessary step. If that fails, you may have to resort to extraordinary measures like Data Rescue 3.

You may even get very lucky and find that a clone of the drive made using SD or CCC will boot the machine. I'd be suspicious of that drive as my primary boot volume, but I've seen it happen.

If the data is important to you, I would consider using multiple methods of of recovery just to be safe. Do a SuperDuper "clone" and a simple file copy to different volumes.

If recovering this drive is extremely important to you, I'd have a go at it using Diskwarrior. It's a tool I've seldom used in recent years, but there was a point when it was an indispensable part of my toolkit, and if your problem is a result of file system corruption, there is a reasonable change that DW will save your bacon.

Finally, not to scold you, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention this for future readers, a good backup system makes emergency recovery processes like these for the most part unnecessary.

  • No I do regular backups, I got this machine broken from someone as payment for fixing their computer. Not having a copy of OSX on hand, I decided to try and recover it from the harddrive. But this was a long time ago, I got somebody from the local hackerspace to help me fix it. I ended up having to replace the stock hard drive with one I had lying around here at the house. Taking that machine apart and reassembling it was a challenge as I've never worked on a circular case before...we ended up restoring a backup dmg on to it, and over Firewire it took a few days, but it worked. – leeand00 Mar 9 '12 at 6:12

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