Jump to content


Reinstalling OS in single user mode


  • Please log in to reply
17 replies to this topic

#1 Tibur

Tibur

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 386 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 27 February 2018 - 01:14 PM

Let me explain. No that would take too long. Let me sum up.

Late 2013 iMac, Fusion drive, suddenly froze up last week. Couldn't force quit anything and had to force it to power down. On restart, I get the Apple logo and progress bar and it hangs.

The weird thing is that it still works as a WiFi hotspot, though. Apparently it gets far enough into the reboot process to do that, just not get me to the UI.  Ok, do some research and start using the keyboard options on start up.  Oddly, command-R doesn't work. Nor does holding down shift to get to Safe Mode. The Apple logo and progress bar appear and it hangs. Usually around 50% or even 80% (extra frustrating as I cajole it to just keeeep gooooing).  More research and I start to find some things that *do* work.

1. I discover I can get into single user mode. I run /sbin/fsck -fy and it tells me the volume "macintosh HD" is fine. Ok. "reboot". Apple + progress bar and hangs (for brevity, A+pb&H).

2. I discover I can hold "option" and get the choose your startup disk screen. I pick "Macintosh HD" (which is the only startup drive I've ever used) and A+pb&H.  I reboot, hold option and then select the external drive that I use for Time Machine backups, thinking that maybe the iMac has somehow decided that's where all the startup programs are found. A+pb&H. (I have since disconnected that external drive when the iMac was powered down, in hopes that I can use it to restore once I get to the UI and that I don't somehow corrupt it while forcing shutdowns and rebooting a couple dozen times.)

3. I discover I can get into Diagnostics (hold D on startup). Run hardware diagnostic extended test as recommended. 30 minutes later it tells me the hardware seems fine. Ok. Reboot. A+pb&H.

4 I discover I can do the command-option-R and get into Internet Recovery (I'm really excited here b/c I'm thinking, if only I could reinstall Mac OS X I can get to the UI without losing much if anything.) A miniature globe shows up, plus a progress bar. 3 minutes later that finishes loading aaaand A+pb&H. WTF? Ok, now I shut down and try regular command + R and get .... A+pb&H.

So, I have no idea what to do next. I'd love to reinstall the OS, and I'm thinking maybe there's a way to do that in single user mode, but my knowledge of UNIX is .... zero? I only knew how to do the fsck thing after looking online.  So far my googling has yet to turn up instructions on how to reinstall my OS from single user mode. Maybe it can't be done. I've seen instructions on how to trick your Mac into thinking you're booting it up for the first time, basically creating a new user account I guess, but that seems kind of fiddly.  

Anyway, that's where I'm stuck. I think I've exhausted everything short of Apple Support, and I'm happy to call them in. Since it seems like this is just some sort of borked-up boot process, though, rather than a HD or other problem, I'd like to see if I can resolve it without hauling my iMac down to the Apple Store.  \

SO, tl; dr question: Anyone know if/how I can reinstall MacOSX in single user mode? Or, if you were brave enough to read through my list, is there anything you can see that I haven't already tried that might help?  

Help me, InsideMacGames Kenobis. You're my only hope (short of Apple Support/Store, that is.)

#2 Camper-Hunter

Camper-Hunter

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 415 posts
  • Steam Name:Rorqual
  • Steam ID:Rorqual
  • Location:Paris, France

Posted 27 February 2018 - 03:57 PM

If you have another Mac, or a friend with one, create a USB installer and you're saved (assuming there's no hardware failure). Or boot from an external hard drive (assuming you've got one).

My rule of thumb: with any computer, always always have an alternative way to boot it. Never rely on a single partition/drive.

#3 Matt Diamond

Matt Diamond

    Uberspewer

  • IMG Writers
  • 2633 posts
  • Location:PA; US
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 27 February 2018 - 09:27 PM

Ugh. Sounds like a bad logic board, but let's hope not.

If you have added any RAM, try removing it. It's a long shot, but you never know. In general Apple RAM is more reliable than third party RAM. Or try half the RAM, and then the other half (unless some of the RAM is soldered on).

Also unplug any peripherals you can.

Assuming that doesn't fix it, try the USB installer suggested above. Between that and your Time Machine backup you've got a good shot. If I had to guess I'd say reinstalling everything won't end up fixing it, but I wouldn't put money on it and you have to try.
www.mindthecube.com

Current setup: macOS 10.11.x/2008 MacPro 3,1 Xeon 2 x 2.8GHz/8GB RAM/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB

#4 macdude22

macdude22

    Like, totally awesome.

  • Forum Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2153 posts
  • Steam Name:Rakden
  • Location:Iowa
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 27 February 2018 - 11:10 PM

Sounds more like the mechanical drive in the fusion volume is going toast. if you can install an OS on an external drive you could run DriveDX or SMART Utility to check the status of both the drives.

In my experience Apple's smart test in disk utility doesn't provide accurate data. It will show a mechanical drive as verified even when it has dozens of pending reallocation's (a good indicator of a weak or failing mechanical drive).

In this scenario usually what i'll do is boot from my repair drive (a usb/Thunderbolt drive with all my tools on it), break the fusion drive, zero the mechanical drive and note where the reallocations fall. If the count climbs, replace the drive. If it's stable with no increase in reallocations, it's usually fine.

It is peculiar that forcing it to boot via IR is failing, have you tried Shift-Option-Command-R? This will try to boot from whatever the original OS was. You don't have to install from there, but I'm interested to see if forcing it to boot from an older OS will work vs. forcing the latest version of macOS.
IMG Discord Server | | http://www.trueachie....com/Rakden.htm
Enterprise (MacPro 3,1): 8 Xeon Cores @ 2.8 GHz || 14 GB RAM || Radeon 4870 || 480GB Crucial M500 + 2TB WD Black (Fusion Drive) || 144hz Asus Mon
Defiant (MacBookPro 9,1): Core i7 @ 2.3ghz || 8GB RAM || nVidia GT 650M 512MB || 512GB Toshiba SSD

#5 Thain Esh Kelch

Thain Esh Kelch

    Admin

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3979 posts
  • Steam ID:thaineshkelch
  • Location:Denmark

Posted 28 February 2018 - 09:19 AM

I'll vote for a dying graphic card, just to be different.

But I will voice everybody else - Try booting from an external drive. It will clear out things much more.
"They're everywhere!" -And now, time for some Legend of Zelda.

iMac 2011, quad 3,4Ghz i7, 1TB Samsung EVO 840, 8GB RAM, 2GB Radeon 6970m. + 2016 Macbook m3 + iPad 2 64GB + iPhone 4S 64GB + Girlfriend + Daughter

#6 Tibur

Tibur

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 386 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 28 February 2018 - 11:12 AM

View Postmacdude22, on 27 February 2018 - 11:10 PM, said:



It is peculiar that forcing it to boot via IR is failing, have you tried Shift-Option-Command-R? This will try to boot from whatever the original OS was. You don't have to install from there, but I'm interested to see if forcing it to boot from an older OS will work vs. forcing the latest version of macOS.
I found that solution last night, tried it and got the spinning globe and progress bar. When that finished loading I got a blank screen with the Apple logo (no progress bar) and then it went to black. This is sounding much worse than I originally thought.  

I will be getting a USB installer as Camper-Hunter suggested and will try that. If that doesn't work, then I think I'm off to the Apple Store since doing the various other steps you noted (breaking the fusion drive, etc.) is getting beyond my minimal competences. Not to mention that I don't have a repair drive handy.

Thanks everyone for the input/help. I'll let you know how things go.

Also, per Matt's suggestion, I did not add any RAM so it's the factory original 8 GB.

#7 Matt Diamond

Matt Diamond

    Uberspewer

  • IMG Writers
  • 2633 posts
  • Location:PA; US
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 28 February 2018 - 07:48 PM

View PostTibur, on 28 February 2018 - 11:12 AM, said:

Also, per Matt's suggestion, I did not add any RAM so it's the factory original 8 GB.

About This Mac will show you which memory slots are filled.
If the memory is split across two or more DIMMs you can test the memory as follows. Uninstall half, then try to boot the machine. Then swap the memory and repeat the test.

If you are lucky this will isolate the problem to a specific bank of memory, and removing that bad memory would then fix the problem. It's a long shot, but if the problem is easy to reproduce like yours, it's a quick test to run. Up to you.
www.mindthecube.com

Current setup: macOS 10.11.x/2008 MacPro 3,1 Xeon 2 x 2.8GHz/8GB RAM/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB

#8 Tibur

Tibur

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 386 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 01 March 2018 - 10:46 AM

No joy on the USB installer. The only option that came up was the Mac HD. Tried the USB in every port, but the same result. I plug in my backup drive and it pops up as a startup disk option though, but I already know that won't work (spoiler: I tried it again anyway because why not?)

Also opened it up and pulled out first one DIMM, then the other (which I think is what Matt was suggesting), but got the same result on rebooting each time w/ only one DIMM in place. Apple logo, progress bar, then it hangs.  

I've exhausted my patience, along with my abilities, and will be calling in to Apple Support. Hopefully the fix is significantly less than a new machine.

Thanks to all who chimed in with suggestions (and those who didn't, but who I know were still rooting for a happy ending). Next round is on me.

#9 Matt Diamond

Matt Diamond

    Uberspewer

  • IMG Writers
  • 2633 posts
  • Location:PA; US
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 01 March 2018 - 03:51 PM

View PostTibur, on 01 March 2018 - 10:46 AM, said:

No joy on the USB installer.
That's odd. Did you or your friend use one of the two options to make it bootable? If so maybe try the other option. If nothing else maybe your Apple support provider will have a bootable installer handy and can try that for you.

Quote

Also opened it up and pulled out first one DIMM, then the other (which I think is what Matt was suggesting)
Yep, exactly right. Sorry that didn't help but I think it was worth ruling that out.

Good luck..

p.s. FYI when you go through Apple Support I think you always need to deal with the same person. I was troubleshooting a tricky issue with them for a few weeks and I mistakenly thought that (when support guy #1 stopped returning my calls) that I could continue the same support ticket with someone else. But even though I mentioned the old ticket, the next guy started over.

In my case it meant that although I had done everything the first guy had recommended, the second one refused to replace the machine until I ran a set of new tests. Eventually an authorized Apple service technician came to my house to replace the logic board. That also failed so he called Apple to ask them what to do and he got support guy #3, who started troubleshooting from scratch again.

I'm afraid I wasn't very nice to support guy #3.

Soon I got back in touch with support guy #2 who replaced the machine as he'd promised he'd do if the repair failed.

So anyway, Apple has a formula for doing support that works most of the time for most people but if you second-guess their script or get unlucky it can be frustrating. Since your problem is easy to reproduce I think you have the problems I had but I thought I should mention.
www.mindthecube.com

Current setup: macOS 10.11.x/2008 MacPro 3,1 Xeon 2 x 2.8GHz/8GB RAM/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB

#10 Tibur

Tibur

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 386 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 01 March 2018 - 05:17 PM

USB installer was created by taking a new USB w/ 16 GB space and downloading MacOS Sierra installer and Disk Creator on a (functional) iMac. Fired up Disk Creator and created the Sierra installer on the USB drive. I'm assuming that worked.  (This was carried out by someone else doing me a favor at a separate location though I talked with them as they did it. Before ejecting the USB, they confirmed it contained the installer). Granted, it could be a bad USB drive or Disk Creator didn't work or they messed up somehow.  

I assume the other option you are referring to involved using Terminal.  I did not (and would not) ask my friend to do that since it's kind of fiddly and I know it would exceed their comfort level.  Not to mention that the iMac they are using is at their office and our use of it to create the bootable USB was probably pushing the boundaries of workplace propriety.  I can only imagine what would happen if a supervisor walked by and saw them typing commands into Terminal.

As for the support issue, I bypassed all the phone/chat options and booked an appointment at the Genius Bar. I feel like I've done everything I can short of renting an oscilloscope, a theremin, and a Jacob's Ladder and breaking open the case. I'm frankly tired of it.

Again, I appreciate all the help. One of the main reasons I love this forum is how genuinely helpful (and occasionally funny ;) ) everyone is here.

#11 Matt Diamond

Matt Diamond

    Uberspewer

  • IMG Writers
  • 2633 posts
  • Location:PA; US
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 02 March 2018 - 01:24 PM

View PostTibur, on 01 March 2018 - 05:17 PM, said:

assume the other option you are referring to involved using Terminal.
Yes. Maybe you could try from single user mode?

But you already have the genius bar appointment, and if they agree that wiping the OS is the next thing to try they surely have an installer on hand.

Good luck!

Quote

As for the support issue, I bypassed all the phone/chat options and booked an appointment at the Genius Bar. I feel like I've done everything I can short of renting an oscilloscope, a theremin, and a Jacob's Ladder and breaking open the case.
You didn't try a theremin??
www.mindthecube.com

Current setup: macOS 10.11.x/2008 MacPro 3,1 Xeon 2 x 2.8GHz/8GB RAM/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB

#12 M4cr

M4cr

    Newbie

  • Banned
  • 6 posts

Posted 05 March 2018 - 10:23 PM

How's the update on this?

#13 Thain Esh Kelch

Thain Esh Kelch

    Admin

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 3979 posts
  • Steam ID:thaineshkelch
  • Location:Denmark

Posted 06 March 2018 - 12:42 AM

Ah, the oscilloscope. Every pro mac users last resort.

And when we've used it to confirm that our Mac isn't working, we can always play Quake on that one instead.
"They're everywhere!" -And now, time for some Legend of Zelda.

iMac 2011, quad 3,4Ghz i7, 1TB Samsung EVO 840, 8GB RAM, 2GB Radeon 6970m. + 2016 Macbook m3 + iPad 2 64GB + iPhone 4S 64GB + Girlfriend + Daughter

#14 Tibur

Tibur

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 386 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 06 March 2018 - 05:28 PM

View PostThain Esh Kelch, on 06 March 2018 - 12:42 AM, said:

Ah, the oscilloscope. Every pro mac users last resort.

And when we've used it to confirm that our Mac isn't working, we can always play Quake on that one instead.
That's pretty cool, though I hope to never have to rely on that option for my gaming needs.

Apple Store could not resolve the issue even after wiping the hard drive and reinstalling Sierra.  They've taken possession for further diagnosis, and will let me know if it is the hard drive or the logic board (maybe both I guess) w/in 3-5 business days.

#15 Tibur

Tibur

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 386 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 14 March 2018 - 05:10 PM

Logic board it is. Yay? Now the question is whether it's worth the $600 repair or if I should put that toward a new iMac,  Thoughts?

#16 macdude22

macdude22

    Like, totally awesome.

  • Forum Moderators
  • PipPipPipPipPipPip
  • 2153 posts
  • Steam Name:Rakden
  • Location:Iowa
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 15 March 2018 - 06:51 AM

IMO the current range of iMacs is a BIG leap from the 2013 models. Graphic power (discrete radeon cards), CPU (Kaby Lake), connectivity (Thunderbolt 3 and USB 3 with USB-C and USB-A ports), Dem retina displays.


Nvidia support on macOS is severely lagging these days and the 2013s have Nvidia cards.  

I wouldn't spend 1/2 - 1/3 the cost of a 2017 iMac repairing a 2013 if I could swing it.
IMG Discord Server | | http://www.trueachie....com/Rakden.htm
Enterprise (MacPro 3,1): 8 Xeon Cores @ 2.8 GHz || 14 GB RAM || Radeon 4870 || 480GB Crucial M500 + 2TB WD Black (Fusion Drive) || 144hz Asus Mon
Defiant (MacBookPro 9,1): Core i7 @ 2.3ghz || 8GB RAM || nVidia GT 650M 512MB || 512GB Toshiba SSD

#17 Matt Diamond

Matt Diamond

    Uberspewer

  • IMG Writers
  • 2633 posts
  • Location:PA; US
  • Pro Member:Yes

Posted 15 March 2018 - 07:43 AM

View PostTibur, on 14 March 2018 - 05:10 PM, said:

Logic board it is.

Yes! Nailed it! (Goes for the high-five, then remembers to look sad.)

I mean, ugh. I had two Mac logic boards go bad over 30 years. It's always a painful way to go because it takes a while to figure out what the problem is, can't be repaired cheaply, and it always seems to happen right after Applecare expires.

Quote

Now the question is whether it's worth the $600 repair or if I should put that toward a new iMac,  Thoughts?

I have my mom's old 2010 iMac I can sell you very cheap. :-)

Upgrade seems the sensible choice, if you can afford it. Not only for the better hardware-- Apple will stop supporting the 2013 models at some point.

With luck you might get a couple hundred for your non-working iMac on eBay, believe it or not-- people want the parts. Apple already wiped the drive for you (though if you prefer to use secure erasing options then maybe you'll want to wipe it yourself somehow.)
www.mindthecube.com

Current setup: macOS 10.11.x/2008 MacPro 3,1 Xeon 2 x 2.8GHz/8GB RAM/NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 2GB

#18 Tibur

Tibur

    Heroic

  • Members
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 386 posts
  • Location:California

Posted 15 March 2018 - 12:12 PM

+1 to Matt for his accurate prediction of "what the popsnizzle went wrong?"  Upgrade it is, and I'll actually see if the trade-in program on the Apple site will take it off my hands rather than mess around with eBay.

Thanks for the advice