G4 Behaving Badly

Pardon me for using this space as a technical support forum in reverse, but I’m not suppose to bother our college Mac guy with problems concerning our personal computers, and Apple charges me an arm and a leg for advice. My G4 laptop, OS 10.3.9, has developed a condition wherein sometimes basic applications like iTunes and Quicktime won’t run. They’ll seem to start up, but the console will never appear, and eventually I’ll have to force-quit. The same thing happens to computer shut-down, it will pretend to begin and then simply won’t go through. I’ve tried re-downloading the applications, with no effect. Is there a simple fix? Any ideas? And thanks if you can offer help.


  1. says

    Kyle, while I think there are many good arguments that repairing permissions is a useless endeavor, it doesn’t hurt. Just go into Disk Utility and click Repair Permissions and sit back and have some nice tea for a few minutes.
    I don’t think it’s the applications that are at issue, but rather the system. What version of the OS are you running? I assume your iTunes and QT are both up-to-date since you redownloaded them.
    Also, try running in safe mode, by restarting and holding down the Shift key. It will take much longer for the G4 to startup, but when it does, see if the same problems recur.
    Finally, you can always schlep it to a Apple Store and speak to someone at the Genius Bar for free.
    Let me know if any of this helps—happy to troubleshoot it further by e-mail or even via phone if needed. Unlike Apple, I don’t charge for tech support.
    KG replies: Thanks, David. Pursuant to your advice, tried Repair Permissions. Didn’t work. A safe boot got Quicktime to work, though haltingly, and got the iTunes console to appear, though it wouldn’t play – volume couldn’t be turned up, second counter wouldn’t advance.

  2. joe Stewart says

    I hate to say this but it sounds like it could be a hardware problem. Do you have the diagnostic CD that came with the laptop? If so, run that and see what it says.

    If it’s not a hardware issue then given the severity of your symptoms I would back up your data using the “carbon copy cloner” onto an external hard drive, and then reformat the internal hard drive and reinstall all of your software. It seems like an unnecessary pain, but your computer will run much better afterwards. I’m around town for the next few days so if you want help give me a call (or email) and I’ll come over and help you.

  3. says

    I always use this diagnosis list to figure out problems on my mac.

    It’s called “Twenty steps to help diagnose and fix system issues” and I found it on macosxhints.com. It tends to exhaust all other options before talking to any other tech support and has gotten me out of the soup every time so far.

    Link follows:

    I’ve copied it in pdf if you have trouble with the link.

  4. says

    Doesn’t sound like a hardware issue to me, guys, and before reformatting (a really Windows-like thing to have to do), I”d look at doing an archive and install of the OS first. Nothing lost if this doesn’t fix it, and unlike reformatting, it preserves the previous system folder for comparison.

  5. julian says

    kyle – the fact that itunes comes up but doesn’t let you adjust volume or play,suggests to me that you might have a problem communicating with the sound hardware. What audio interface are you using (internal or a 3rd party external)? And, what is your sound output set to in your ‘sound’ control panel in the System Preferences?

  6. David DeMaris says

    When I’ve had apps *sometimes* not start up in OSX , it often is a result of missing a disk that was previously shared/mounted. Applications seem to remember that there was another disk and will try to find it until they time out, which might take minutes.

  7. kevin parks says

    try deleting some preferences files. Prefs occasionally get hosed and exhibit the symptoms you describe. You might try deleting files like:
    if the prefs file is being written to and is interrupted it can become corrupt.. You app will attempt to launch and try to determine things like your last window settings & such by reading preferences files.. if those files are hosed the app will barf & quit.
    open console and lookee see as well …
    if you need other suggestions gimme a shout out.