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Model A1138 / 1440x960 screen resolution

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Folder/File with question mark when I boot up

I bought and installed a left fan, a new optical Drive and 1GB of RAM in my old G4 Aluminium Powerbook (15-inch). I did it exactly like described in the manuals that come with every part. I put all together and since then, my PowerBook won´t start anymore.

There is the boot sound at the beginning and then the screen goes grey and in the middle appears a mac smiley folder with a question mark on it. Nothing more happens.

I saw other answers to the same problem and all say that the HD is fried. But why? It worked before and never had problems. I didn´t neither move something around the HD, nor was there a step that would have affected the HD. The closest part I changed is the optical Drive which is at the right side of the HD, but there aren´t any cables that connect the two parts.

Any one know this especific problem?

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At this point I would talk to ifixit about an exchange optical drive. It doesn't happen often but this is looking more and more like a bad optical drive. Ralph


ok. thank you. The problem will be that I´m in Mexico City and that shipping costs will be higher than the optical drive itself... will post answer here when I get it from iFixit. Thanks for all of your help.


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Gewählte Lösung

The question mark on startup means it can't find a system folder. It does not mean the hard drive is bad. The hard drive may have connection problems, a corrupted system or just needs to be introduced to the new things you have added. I usually do one thing at a time so that if I have problems I know where to look.I would start up from my system installation disk by inserting the disk restarting and holding down the "C" key. Go to the second page pull down menu and go to Utilities -> Disk Utility. See if it sees the drive in the left hand column. If so try repairing the drive and the permissions before restarting. You may find your problems are gone after this. If not and you did see the hard drive then restart and zap the PRAM by holding down the Command & Option & "P" & "R" keys. Wait for it to chime three times and then let off the keys.

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+ for a very good answer. Ralph


I allready zaped the PRAM and it didn´t help. Unfortunatly I don´t have a functional installation disk (it is a little bit scratched and the new optical drive does not read it), but will try now with an USB-stick... any other suggestions?


So if the memory and hard drive are good, we're just worried about the optical drive? I don't know what you have on your flash drive. Unplug it, remove the battery let it sit for 5 minutes, press the start button for five seconds. Then put the battery back in and the AC adapter and try starting.

I have to run for an hour but you're in good hands with majesty and Ralph.


yes. I think we are just worried about the optical drive. but since when I connect it to the motherboard the Hard drive won´t be recognized I am also worried about my hard drive. :D

The USB stick, I thougt, could help me as an installation ¨Disc¨since my leopard installation disc is a little bit scratched and won´t be recognized by the optical drive. Or is it the optical drive that is not working neither?


Nop. Does not work with the USB-stick neither. When I boot holding the alt key, there is no volume visible. Neither the DVD Install Disc in the optical drive, nor the USB Image I made from it, nor the hard disc.


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Since you replaced the optical drive I would recheck the hard drive connections as the two share a cable. Then I would try the unit with the old ram installed. Finally if neither of those worked I would disconnect the optical drive and see if that helped. If you are still having problems after those fixes get back to us with the results and we will look further. You could have a problem with the drive but lets check the things you worked on first. Good luck. Ralph

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Which one is the cable that the optical drive and the HD share? The only cable I moved was the one at the upper left corner that connects to the motherboard. I don´t see the one you mention.


I still don´t know which cable share the two components (HD and Optical Drive), but I did all the other tests. Changing the memory does not affect anything, but disconnect the optical drive did and the PowerBook is booting like it should.

The memory is recocnized by the OSX so no problem at all, but what should I do that I can use the optical drive I bought?


This is the optical drive I bought: 12.7 mm PATA 8x SuperDrive (UJ-85J) ([verlinktes Produkt fehlt oder ist deaktiviert: IF153-037])


You are correct on the cable--for some reason I was thinking of an iBook. At this point you should follow mayer's suggestions. I'm happy to note your memory is good. Ralph


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I too have bought a Matsushita UJ-85-J-C DVD DL drive as many sites say it is a suitable compatible DVD drive for a G4 Aluminium PowerBook, an A1138 - but it's not - I get the same screen that 'fingernageldreck' gets to see!

If I disconnect the correct optical cable for my machine that works OK with my UJ-846 DVD DL drive then the system boots from the HDD, and the DVD drive is recognised, but if I connect it back onto the UJ-85-J-C then I get the grey screen with the Mac 'no system' animated mini-image centred on the screen.

So I know the issue is not the HDD nor is it the associated cables - it seems to me, most probably, to be that the IDE master/slave/cable select connection has been made in some other way than was standardised for the original DVD DL drives that came with the PowerBooks when they were originally released.

The UJ-85-J-C I have came out of an iMac and the IDE/ATAPI Master/Slave/Cable Select conundrum seems to be the logical choice as to what is the problem here - unless someone else has a better suggestion.

My problem is - how to alter the Master/Slave/Cable Select option inside the DVD drive, as that seems the only logical hardware change that will cause the drive to be recognised on my system.

That is, if I have understood the problem correctly!


I believe the issue may be related to changing the hardware - after purchase/installation from Apple.

Any installation is basically 'invalidated' when you change a 'significant' part of the hardware, such as the DVD-CD drive - as in my case, so you have to have a 'blanked' formatted HDD with NO MacOS on it, then when you insert the MacOSX software installation disc it finds ONLY the system installation disc and allows the DVD drive to be recognised from which to install, at which point the DVD-CD drive is recognised/installed as part of the recognised system, and then is OK - until, at some point in the future, it then fails at which point the situation reverts to where you have to do a totally new Mac OS X installation. That is what worked for me, and I hope this information is useful to someone else in the future.

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fingernageldreck wird auf ewig dankbar sein.

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