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Odd Problem - Mac Pro & Bootcamp


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#1 Tetsuya

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 04:20 PM

first off:

computer is a MacPro base model (2.66ghz, 1GB of RAM, GeForce 7300).

When i first bought the computer, i used Bootcamp to install Windows and it worked flawlessly, Windows ran fine, everything hunky dory.

Today, i finally updated to 10.4.8 (computer shipped with 10.4.7) and got a whole bunch of other stuff from Software Update, including a new firmware update.  Software update ran fine, OS X restarted, and the firmware update immediately booted up.  I followed the directions for the firmware update (in this case, just let it run), and the computer rebooted again, everything fine, computer took a while to boot up this time, though.  (thing usually boots up in seconds).

Everything ran fine under OS X (still is), but when i attempted to reboot into Windows (via the Startup Disk control panel) the computer restarted, the screen went black like Windows was starting up, and then nothing.  No hard disk noise, no nothing.  Restarting (the hard way) did nothing - it would boot, go black, and sit.  Finally, i rebooted into OS X (by holding down X), and everything works fine on that end.  

Not having any better ideas, i stuck the WinXP CD in and tried to use the repaire feature - again, black screen, and nothing.  

Little loss in just re-installing Windows (used only for a few games) so i used Bootcamp to restore the HD to a single partition, and ran Disk Utility to make sure there werent any problems - HD came up totally clear.  

I repartitioned the HD with Bootcamp to start over, popped in the WinXP CD, and started the install process.  Everything was going fine, until it came time for the windows Installer to format the partition - it got about 20% through and hung for a while, then reported that it could not format the partition because of a disk error or bad partition.  

I rebooted into OS X and ran Disk Utility again - had it check the hard drive, and again, it came up clean.

I have no idea what could have caused it to happen - i dont download anything on windows or even use it to browse the web, just to play a few games (Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War, KOTOR 2, and Star Wars: Empire at War).  There was no sign in Windows itself that anything was wrong before it all fell in the crapper - it just refused to reboot into Windows all of a sudden.

Any ideas?  Dead hardware (bad HD?)? Something in the new Firmware?  Any thoughts on how to fix the issue, or at least a test to maybe figure out what exactly IS wrong?

thanks for any help...

#2 Lemon Lime

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 07:40 PM

im pretty sure it has to do with the new firmware update.

the only thing i can suggest is to wait until apple comes out with a new version of boot camp.

also, you have to remember, this is beta software. so dont expect it to run flawlessly.

#3 Tetsuya

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Posted 28 October 2006 - 11:35 PM

fair enough.  If so, im somewhat upset i allowed the Firmware update to run.  I hadnt updated much of anything since i bought it.... seems that may have been the wiser choice.  Oh well, looks like i'm pocked, unless there is some way to roll the firmware back.

thanks for the help, anyone else have any ideas?

thanks!

T

#4 Mister Mumbles

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 01:29 AM

Couldn't you just download the installer for the older firmware version and then run it or would it not let you do that?
Formerly known as a Mac gamer.

#5 OverLoad

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 05:41 AM

Tetsuya, can you tell us which firmware update caused the problem, and which version of Boot Camp you used for your original installation and reinstall attempts? Perhaps the more recent firmware requires a more recent version of Boot Camp to work.

On the other hand, this firmware restoration CD may be what you need.

CAVEAT: I haven't really played around with Boot Camp yet, so don't assume I know what I'm talking about.


EDIT: I also ran across this information in the Boot Camp FAQ. Is this the error message you're getting?

Quote

While installing Windows XP, this message appears: "A problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent damage to your computer.   UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_VOLUME".

In some cases, the Windows installer may incorrectly consider an erased volume with stale NTFS/FAT32 data as a valid filesystem. To fix the volume, start the computer using Mac OS X and use Disk Utility to erase the Windows XP partiton with the Zero Out Data security option. This option can be found under Security Options in the Erase pane of Disk Utility.


#6 Tetsuya

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 08:43 AM

the Firmware culprit was the SMC Firmware update, just recently released AFAIK.  When i first bought the machine there was an EFI Firmware update - that was required for Bootcamp to work at all - which i installed day 1 and had no issues with.  AFAIK, im using the most up to date version of Bootcamp - 1.1.1 - and have been since Day 1.

I'm really thinking it is probably the SMC Firmware update that borked things up.  

thanks for all the help so far.  I'm not at home right now (typing this on the girlfriends MacBook lappy) but when i get there later ill try playing around with things and seeing what happens.

I didnt get the "windows is shutting down message" when attempting the re-instal, actually.  It was more of a "couldn't format the partition because it was damage or unwritable" or something along those lines.  I gave up on it at that point to head over here to the girlfriends for her Halloween party.

edit - the Restoration CD looks like a good option.  Didn't even know it existed.  Thanks for that tip - thats the kind of thing id want lying around anyway.

#7 Tetsuya

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 03:39 PM

the Firmware disc isnt working.... i followed the instructions to the letter, and the machine simply WILL NOT do what the website instructions say it is supposed to do.  

I start the computer up, hold down the button, the lights flash rapidly, and then the series of 9 blinks doesnt happen.  It just hangs on grey screen for about 30 seconds and boots into OSX.

It never gets to any firmware interface at all.

which, upon reading the fine print, is exactly correct, since it only restores it to defaults after a botched update, not a successful one.  

Anyone know any way to reset the firmware forcefully?

#8 OverLoad

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 07:11 PM

View PostTetsuya, on October 30th 2006, 06:39 AM, said:

Anyone know any way to reset the firmware forcefully?
Take a hammer to it? :blink:

Are you sure you want to go back to the earlier firmware? The SMC firmware is intended primarily to adjust fan operation, which could be useful to you in the long run. And while it may be true that it was the firmware installation that borked your Boot Camp, I haven't seen reports elsewhere that this firmware version seems to be getting in Boot Camp's way.

FWIW, this is what I'd probably do if I found myself in your shoes:

1. Make a backup of my OS X partition.
2. Boot from the Mac Pro system restore disc.
3. Create a single partition and zero erase the entire disk with Disk Utility.
4. Install OS X fresh, then update it to 10.4.8.
5. Restore applications and data from my backup.
6. Reinstall Boot Camp using the latest beta.

It may turn out to be overkill, but I usually opt for clean installs when dealing with inexplicable problems. There's less to go wrong, in the long run. (Of course, this is all speculation based on a purely theoretical understanding of Boot Camp.)

#9 Lemon Lime

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 07:32 PM

and when you back up your data make sure to use Carbon Copy Conner. it makes a mirror image of your hard drive so when you erase your HDD just boot off of the external one and once again use CCC to copy over all your stuff. it will be like nothing ever happened.

#10 Tetsuya

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 08:22 PM

alright, more information:

repartitioned the Hard drive again, giving windows about 50GB.  

installed Windows again, everything seemed to work fine.  Installed the Apple drivers, downloaded the updates for my Kensington Keyboard and mouse, Winrar.  

installed Warhammer 40k: Dawn of War - Dark Crusade.  

everything went fine for a bit.  I went back to install the original Dawn of War, (to add those races to multiplayer for Dark Crusade) and things got hinky - computer got boggy slow, and eventually hung completely and windows went completely white. (whole screen turned white)

I hard rebooted, and when it tried to boot windows, i got this error message:

"cant boot windows because this file is missing:  Windows\system32\hal.dll"

reboot into OSX, the Windows partition no longer shows up in OSX, and we're back to the original problem.  What gives?

I *really* dont want to have to do a clean install - dragging the 120GB of files back and forth from hard drive to hard drive takes forever.  Anyone have any ideas what is causing Windows to go so hinky all of a sudden when it has run perfectly until just recently for months?  How would updating the fan firmware screw Bootcamp over so badly?  

what would cause a system file to just up and dissapear like that?

and this just in:  firing up Bootcamp to try to trash the errant Windows partition resulted in this error message:

"Your Startup Disk cannot be partitioned or returned to a single partition/"

Arggh!

#11 Lemon Lime

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Posted 29 October 2006 - 08:31 PM

View PostTetsuya, on October 29th 2006, 06:22 PM, said:

"Your Startup Disk cannot be partitioned or returned to a single partition/"

Arggh!

i got this same message after i had installed vista on my iMac which required me to first delete the EFI partition which boot camp uses to resize volumes with out having to destroy all your data.

im starting to think your problem is something deeper than just the firmware update. the one way to completely get rid of all your problems will to be to start clean (nuke the disk).

have fun cloning your disk. shouldn't take more than 4 hours using CCC :)

#12 OverLoad

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 12:23 AM

Found some info in the MS database about the error message you saw when trying to start Windows. It sounds like the Boot.ini file was screwed up by the reinstall.

I'm with Lemon Lime, it sounds like you need to nuke it.

#13 Tetsuya

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 05:16 AM

yeah, i was afraid of that.

backing up all my files to my G5.  

thankfully my iTunes library and documents folder only run to about 50GB.

lets hear a yay for gigabit ethernet.

#14 Tetsuya

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 05:29 AM

would using a second hard drive for windows help with these kinds of issues in the future?

#15 Huntn

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 08:50 AM

View PostTetsuya, on October 30th 2006, 05:29 AM, said:

would using a second hard drive for windows help with these kinds of issues in the future?

Can Boot Camp work that way? As an Mac purchase may be in my near future, that would be some good info.

#16 Tetsuya

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 09:01 AM

Bootcamp says so - one of the features listed in the 1.1.1 beta is the ability to install to any internal HD.

#17 Tetsuya

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 09:23 AM

even more newer information.  More... more newer....

anyway...

Started to do a nuke-and-pave on the machine.  Booted from the OS X install CD, started the installer.

Got to the screen to select a disc to install the OS on, and it wouldnt allow me to select the Hard Drive, saying "Invalid Disc, OS X cannot boot from this volume".  Now im puzzled.  Okay...  so, i exit the installer into Disk Utility (included on the Installer disc) and use Disc Utility to erase and reformat the drive.  

That seems to work fine, so i have Disc Utility run the Verify Disc, and it says the disc is fine.  I have it run Repair Disc just to make sure.  No repairs needed.  OK, things are looking alright.

Restart the computer, installer boots up, run the installer.  Tell it to Erase and Install, just to make sure.
Everything appears to run fine, it gets to the point where it is going reboot and ask for Disc 2.  Computer reboots.  Grey screen..... waiting for the apple....  nothing.  Just sits there.  

go for a hard reboot, and the computer powers down istantly, the moment i touch the power button (normally you have to hold the button down for several seconds.)  computer reboots when i turn it back on, goes to the grey screen, nothing.  Again, and again, and again.   Several times i try to hold down C to make it boot from the install disc again.  Nadda.  Wont do it, just gets to a grey screen and sits.

Hmm... color me very confused.  I yank the power cable.  I plug the cable back in, and the computer powers on immediately.  Odd.  Does this every time, now.  Huh.  

Okay, so I yank the hard drive out of the machine, take it out of the crade and plug it into my G5.  Restart the G5, it sees the drive no problem, even sees the mostly complete installation of OS X on the drive.  Okay, i use Disk Utility to verify and repair the disk again.  Everything is fine it says.  I decide to have it erase the drive - this time, i have it zero the data.  (it is currently doing this as I type)

I go back downstairs, set the MacPro up, and as soon as i plug the power cable in, and it powers up immediately... again.  

I put in the Install CD and attempt to boot from the CD.  This time, it does (now that the HD is out of the machine).  Okay, i reboot the machine and hold down D to boot into the hardware test.  It works out fine, boots up into the hardware test, and works fine.  Run the test, and the extended testing, (have run it at least   5 times now), and Hardware Test says nothing is wrong.  Ill run it again after i put the drive back in... but nothing else is wrong...

okay, so Hardware Test says the hardware is OK.  Disk Utility says the disk is fine.  

What the crap is going on here?!  What would cause it to not boot from a CD when forced?  What would cause it to not be able to boot from a working drive with a proper installation of OS X?

.....

#18 OverLoad

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 03:56 PM

View PostTetsuya, on October 31st 2006, 12:23 AM, said:

What the crap is going on here?!  What would cause it to not boot from a CD when forced?  What would cause it to not be able to boot from a working drive with a proper installation of OS X?
I'm not sure. I know I've seen the same sort of thing happen before, a while back, with a different (non-Mac) computer, but that was a model with BIOS, not EFI, so I'm sure the causes are completely different. But offhand I'd guess that it all has something to do with the corrupt boot.ini that seems to have caused your trouble in the first place.

Is it working okay now, or still acting up? It sounds like the sort of trouble you might be able to fix by zapping the PRAM, but don't quote me on that.

#19 Lemon Lime

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 06:01 PM

well, you must realize, when you boot from a cd it can take up to twice as long to reach the installer. so when it hangs at the gray screen it may actually be loading the installer.

if you used CCC to clone your drive what you should do is just boot off that into your OS and then use CCC once again to clone your data back to your HDD.

#20 Tetsuya

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Posted 30 October 2006 - 06:36 PM

the Culprit was:

Dead Drive.  

seems (according to the guy at the Apple Store) that a lot of the 250GB WD Caviar drives that are in the Mac Pro have a tendency to die.  

Im just lucky i got my info off of the thing and backed up to my G5 before it totally went teats up.

Luckily they had replacement parts on hand and he just swapped it right there on the counter, booted the new drive and away we went.

I also picked up a 160GB Seagate for a steal and am using it for Bootcamp purposes now.  To answer Huntn's question definitively - yes, you CAN install onto a second interal drive, and it allows an option on a second (or third, or whatever) drive to just use the whole thing for Windows.  

Things seem to be going along swimingly now, and thanks for all the help everyone.

Now to move all the files back..