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Can boot from other PowerBooks but not from its own HDD

I have a strange one here.

I bought a 12" 1.5 GHz Aluminum Powerbook (1.25 GB RAM) for cheap, the owner said it had a hard drive problem. Sure enough, I boot it in target mode and its hard drive doesn't show up in my 15" 1.5 GHz Powerbook's Disk Utility app. This laptop runs Leopard OS. Shucks, I have a spare hard drive so I replace the bad one in the 12". (And got a cut in my pinky from the sharp edge of the keyboard as I freed it from the base of the LCD screen.) Now, it shows up in the 15" Powerbook's Disk Utility.

I format it in the Mac OS (Journalled) default choice and all is good. So to test the whole thing, I use SuperDuper! (I chose the program's "backup all files" choice) to clone the 15" hdd into the 12" machine. It finishes in an hour and a half without incident. I reboot the 12", it chimes, but am greeted with a folder icon with the flashing question mark in it. Hmmm, does it also have bad hardware? Or just a bad cloning process?

I boot the 12" PBk in target mode, and power up the 15", and immediately press the Option key. The 15" OS shows up as the only bootable OS between the 2 machines. The freshly cloned OS on the 12" can't do a start up. Yet, if I reverse the roles, i.e., boot the 15" in target mode and use its OS as the startup disk, the 12" does indeed boot normally. I try another machine, a 1.33 GHz iBook as the startup disk in target mode, and the 12" Powerbk also boots from the iBook's Tiger OS normally. So it seems the 12" Powerbook hardware is OK.

Here's the clincher: the iBook BOOTS NORMALLY from the fresh cloned OS in the 12" Powerbook. The cloned OS works, after all. So, why can't the 12" and the 15" Powerbooks boot from the cloned OS, yet the iBook can? What am I missing?

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What operating system specifically are you using? What are the last three figures of the serial number of the 12" & 15".? Look on the sidewall in the battery compartment.


Mayer, the last 3 serial numbers are:

12" Powerbook ...RJ7 (Model A1104)

15" Powerbook ... QHY (Model A1095). I tried another 15" Powerbook ...RG3 (A1106) and got the same frustrating results as with the first 15" A1095.

Also, the 12"iBook has ...P2SE7 (Model A1133).

These machines have fully updated Leopard OS (10.5.8) except the iBook which has Tiger 10.4.11


You can take the iBook to 10.5.8 too. Do you have a retail 10.5 installation disk?


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Problem solved! I have done some more research in the past days and found that the format I did on the hard drive in target mode defaults to Master Boot Record (MBR). Powerbooks can boot only from drives formatted with Apple Partition Map (APM). So, I redid the erase command from Disk Utility and went into the Advanced options below the screen, selected one partition choice, clicked on APM, and proceeded to erase. A new cloning of the drive fixed the issue and now allows the Powerbook to boot from its own drive.

Now to get a proper install disk. Yes, thanks for the tip, Mayer, I know iBooks and Powerbooks can be upgraded to Leopard if the processor runs 867 MHz or faster. RAM should be 1 GB or more to run them fluidly.

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I attribute this problem to the pre-Intel processors in these computers. They require very specific system files, and I am rarely able to move one hard drive from powerbook to powerbook. I would recommend you pick up an original install disk on the cheap from somewhere like eBay. One in usable condition will probably run you about $20, and it's easy to install and get it up and running. I've tried doing this with several PowerBooks and iBooks in the past, and it seems the further apart in manufacturing years they are, the less likely the hard drives can be interchanged.

Good thing we're now in the universal world of Intel!

-Hope this Helps

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