Question about Apple iMac G5 Desktop

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Booting an iMac g5 for the first time with out the system disc.

G5 iMac 1.8 ghz, pre-isight. I do not have the original system install or restore discs. Purchased a used drive with os 10.5 and ilife already installed on it, installed the drive in the machine. Did not recognize the operating system, command x, safe mode, command n, network boot and zapped the pram, none of which worked. Is there any way to trick the machine into recognizing the files. I did fire it up in target disc mode and can see all of the sytem files. Or do I have to have the disc to get it to boot for the first time?

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  • thelotusclub Jan 22, 2009

    exactly, I have overlooked the obvious, at 640 gigs, western digital, I think it is safe to assume this came from an intel machine. I am now going to break down, contact apple, and order the correct discs for my serial #. Unless of course I can format this drive for power pc, via target disc mode with my ibook running 10.4.1, with disc utilities, and then install its operating system in the iMac? Is that possible?

  • thelotusclub Jan 22, 2009

    I have never ordered a replacement disc thru. apple, but have heard it only costs $32, which in my case at this point, this experiment is getting expensive, wishing I would have purchased a fully functional, fully loaded ready to go machine. Thanks for the help, I was frustrated beyond reason earlier and the closest mac store is over 50 miles away.

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There are several reasons why you could be having this problem. You first need to know a little about the various "flavors" of Apple computers and operating systems.
There are two brands of processors: PowerPC (this is what you have) and Intel (what Apple switched to after your model).
There are also different types of system install disks: Specific Version (this is what would have came with the iMac originally and contains only the drivers for that model). Retail Version contains drivers and "Universal" processor code for all of the supported models and both types of processors.
Intel Macs format their drives differently than PowerPC macs. So, if the used drive was formatted for Intel you wouldn't be able to mount it, if the install disk that was used was Specific Model type rather than Retail type when the system was installed on your used disk, you wouldn't be able to mount it either.
The drive you have must be formatted for PowerPC and system installed from either the Specific Version or Retail install disc in order for you to mount it.  

Posted on Jan 22, 2009

  • Allan Claunch
    Allan Claunch Jan 22, 2009

    As far as the formatting, yes, in disk utility on either PowerPC or Intel you can format a drive or partition for either type.


    As far as ordering serial number specific disc, you would be better off ordering universal. Their isn't anything special about the specific other than it is stripped down, they should cost the same, why not opt for the full blown?

  • Allan Claunch
    Allan Claunch Jan 22, 2009

    Oops, I stand corrected, it looks like on my G4 PowerBook running 10.4.11 I cannot format partitions for the Intel systems. So, it looks like if you have a PowerPC you can only format for PowerPC, but if you have an Intel, you can format for either one.


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