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Ishtar
17th August 2004, 01:48 PM
I have a first generation G4 with an ATI Rage Pro video card recently upgraded to OSX 10.3.2 Panther. Everything has been sweet for the past month, until last night. Accepted an update request, moving it up to OSX 10.3.5 an now I cant get into OSX. There is nothing being sent to the monitor. Up until we contaced the apple help center this morning (of which they were none) we could get in in safe mode, now that wont work. We cant start up off the disc, and without the OS9.2 back up start up we left, my Mac would be a paper weight. The dude at Next Byte says it has flashed the firmware and it needs to be reset, but I dont know, coz it was working in safe mode until that dope of a woman at the mac service center got us to resert the p ram. :(

Any help would be greatly appreciated

kim jong il
18th August 2004, 09:48 AM
You did not by any chance update the firmware before updating the OS (or after for that matter)? If you did you may not like what follows. Zapping the PRAM is SAFE. Flashing the firmware is decidedly more risky.

Firmware version 4.2.8 is well known for it's ability to render some non-apple (usually generic) RAM totally unusable in your mac G4 tower (sad because its half the price) (although if conforms to apple specs it will work). Simply getting any old PC100 or PC133 SDRAM is a bad idea. You may get lucky, you may not. The problem is that RAM is NOT always RAM. (the firmware update tightens memory addressing tolerances and its all over for out of spec RAM as far as your mac is concerned). It is actually only a 'reccommended' update not a requirement (improves certain things on some machines e.g firewire target mode amongst others)

EDIT: I would like to point out that the RAM is fine, just that the mac can't use it anymore because it won't work the way the mac wants at the speed it wants.

Why don't Apple tell people this and why does the update not contain a warning? Good question. They continually tell people to buy apple branded RAM. They just don't explain why. (the tech guy/person might not even know; some of them are exceedingly ignorant but get by, by knowing a bit more than you plus some extra computery words) ((NOTE: One of my imacs was an absolute bargain because a dill/tech at an apple shop told the owner he had a problem that was specific to a DIFFERENT machine altogether prompting him to sell it with a 'fault'))

I happen to have 512 MB sitting in front of me that only recently fell victim to the firmware update. The computer recognises it but cannot use it properly. OS X is very finicky about RAM. In OS X it will: not boot at all (no chime) boot into open firmware or will boot and suffer periodic kernel panics. OS 9 it will also boot into open firmware or boot and just crash more than usual. (the specific behaviour will be determined to an extent by which slot the offending RAM DIMM is in. You can have a good one in slot zero and the machine will boot, as described above, then fail or a 'bad' one in slot zero and go straight to open firmware or nothing at all. It all depends.........)

There is no cure or solution to the above problem (apart from buying compliant RAM). The G4's firmware cannot be downgraded (You cannot reinstall an earlier version over a later one at all. It can't be fooled either) and Apple never released a patch or update that addressed this issue (in spite of howls of protest).

You need to find out what firmware version your machine has installed as well as look at the RAM. Post and I'll explain where to look for the firmware revision (also referred to as boot ROM version). It's quite easy. (in finder) apple menu/about this mac/more info.

cheers, kim