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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

need help SOON! no login screen on bootup

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Last night I was editing some pictures I took this past weekend for some clients, and my PowerBook told me that I had to restart the computer by holding the power button down and turning the computer back on. I'm not sure why it did this, though it was getting a bit hotter than usual. When I booted it back up, it went through the standard booting screens, then when it switches to the blue background of the login screen, nothing comes up. The mouse arrow is there and can be moved, but no login screen. I rebooted at least 10 times, and got the same thing each time. At one point during a reboot I saw something similar to a DOS interface flash on the screen mentioning something about Darwin, but it was gone before I could read it all. All of my pics are on my PB and aren't backed up anywhere else yet, and I need to get the pics done soon (day or two). Anybody have this problem before?
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Try repair permissions. After every software update, and about every 2 weeks: close all apps and log totally off. Log on, go in Finder, Applications. Utilities, Disk Utility. After the message -getting disk information- select volume (below the hard drive name -upper left corner). Just highlight it. Now look to the lower two things are there near the middle, verify permissions, repair permissions. Click repair permissions
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Did that already (have to use the OSX install disc to get to Utilities). I do that after every software update, too. I tried the holding Option + push power trick recommended in the troubleshooting guide, and I get a Darwin-style black screen login, but I have no idea what it has my login name as (tried all the combinations I can think of), so I can't log in. Right now when I hit the power button I get the normal startup chime, get a silver/grey Apple screen (normal for my bootup), then after the silver Apple screen, the display goes black and the machine shuts itself down.

If it makes any difference, I'm running OSX 10.4.1 (haven't updated to 10.4.2 yet because I've heard there are some problems with it, but those may be fixed by now).

Is there a way to reinstall OSX without formatting my data off the hard drive?
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Is there a chance that you were running out of HD space? When the system displays that you must power down screen (in many languages) it's had either a kernel panic or memory dump. In order to do a successful memory dump there needs to be enough HD space to do it. Typically 1.5 times the amount of RAM you have. Or you may just have bad RAM?

You can do an archive and install if you'd like and that will preserve the user accounts and applications.

backup using cmd+t and another mac if you can first.
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Definitely not running out of HD space... I still have about 45GB free. I didn't think about the RAM... I'll try switching my chips out and see if that does anything. If all else fails, I'm going to bring it down to the Apple store I bought it at and have them mess with it. One thing does make me think the hard drive is bad, though: when I went to try to reinstall OSX and it asks what volume I want to install it to, there are no options.
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After spending about two hours with a very helpful Mac Genius at my local Apple Store's Genius Bar, we came to the conclusion that my hard drive is toast. No way to get my data off it, no way to reinstall OSX to it... it's just toast. Hard drive is being replaced under warranty, and I'm putting a higher priority on my plans to buy an external drive for backing up my PB's files. The main stuff I needed were the pics I shot this past weekend for a few clients. Friday and Saturday's pics are gone with the hard drive (1200-1400 pics), but luckily I haven't formatted my CF cards from Sunday yet, so at least not all is lost. I hope they have a Mighty Mouse in stock when I pick my PB back up... they got them in yesterday and already sold out.
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This is the exact reason why I save all my RAW files to 2 different hard drives as well as burning them off to CD's. Glad you still had the shots on your CF cards, I don't think I could bring myself to tell a client that I had lost ALL of their images.
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What do you use as your backup HD? I was already casually looking into an external hard drive for backup (actually, a desktop internal plus an external housing - cheaper, and way more storage), but after this, I'm bumping that up the list of priorities a bit.
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