Tips December 13, 2004 at 10:13 pm

Boot problems might be permissions problems

An Apple may not be the only logo you may see when you boot.

For those times when Disk Warrior doesn’t fix it…Recently I had a client who’s PowerMac G4 running Panther Server hard drive died. No big deal since I had an old iMac running Retrospect 6 to backup the entire drive.

I popped the new hard drive in a FireWire enclosure and hooked it up to the backup server. I restored the entire disk the backup set. When that was done I opened up the Startup Disk in System Preferences. After a few seconds I could see 10.3.6 Server as an option to startup from. Great I’m thinking, the system is blessed so I should have no trouble booting from it.

I take the hard drive out of the FireWire enclosure and put it in the G4 server. I turn on the G4 and see the good old Apple logo. After a few seconds there’s no rotating status at the bottom. All right why isn’t it showing up? Then the screen flickers and the Apple disapears. I’m greated with a logo of cancel sign (kind of like a no-smoking sign minus the cigarette).

So I whip out the diagnosics. Disk Warrior, Tech Tool Pro and Norton Disk Doctor take its stab. I still get the cancel sign when I try to boot.

I still haven’t tried booting in single user mode. I give that a try and I still get the cancel sign. Verbose mode gets me nothing. I can’t boot.

It turns out permissions are seriously screwed up and the fix is quite easy. You can boot up off the Mac OS X Panther CD’s and open Disk Utility to repair permissions on the drive.

An even quicker way (especially on older Macs since it takes forever to boot from CD) is boot the computer in FireWire target disk mode. Connect the FireWire cable to another Mac and use SuperDuper! to repair permissions.

Ed. note: diskutil or Disk Utility will also allow you to repair permissions on drives other than your boot drive. It looks as perhaps you didn’t have ownership enabled on the drive when you restored to it. For the record, the symbol you saw is the “Prohibitory Sign”. KB# 106464 has more info.

1 Comment

  • I’ve seen this happen even with a fresh install of OS X. Perms are always getting crazy. I do a perm fix before and after every software update.

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