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OS X - Operating System General OS operation information and support

OS 10.4 - Mac boots to console... Help!

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Machine: PowerMac G2 w/ Dual 2.0GHz running OSX 10.4

Everything was running fine, I was running a few misc applications, Mail and Safari. In Safari I was listening to (a flash application based MP3 streamer), and browsing a couple of web pages in other tabs. I noticed that pandora kept locking up (wouldn't go onto the next song if ITS tab wasn't in focus, but this probably has nothing to do with the problem).

With all this running, I started working on some paperwork. After a little while, the screensaver kicks in, and then the monitor turns off. Music still playing. Using the keyboard, I mute the music to talk to someone, and then it won't come back on... and I get the dreaded pinwheel of death. Nothing is responding.

So I go to another machine in my house, and ssh into the Mac. Using my little unix trick of killing anything running as a particular user "kill -9 -1" I killed all my apps, expecting to be dropped back to the login screen. No deal... I get dropped to a text based "console" login. It works, I can log in and see the filesystem... but NO graphics.

So... I do a "shutdown -r now", and the machine reboots, right back to this console login!! I can't seem to do anything to get back to the graphical login!

I've been running Linux for well over a decade, but this is my first Mac. I'm kind of lost when it comes to hardware level stuff like booting from a CD, or working around this type of issue. Can I force it into a safe mode by booting while hold down a key? Where do I even start!

The filesystem seems fine... but I don't know what files hold the configuration info that may be causing this symptom.

In the log files in /var/log I get a message that says:
loginwindow[209]: Login Window Started Security Agent
loginwindow[209]: AuthorizationRef doesn't have a username (<LoginAuthRefMgr: 0x337780>).

If that means anything to anyone. Please help... right now, I have a dual processor paperweight that burns electricity!!
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Answering my own question...

Once I got the system to boot from CD, I was able to use the 10.4 install DVD to boot up, and run disk utilites. I ran the permissions repair utility and it found a bunch of problems in /Library. That seemed to do the trick.... and it's all working now.

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