Ask Max: Trouble finding a boot volume
My G4 has a flashing folder symbol, with an iMac smile, also a question mark and a gray screen as background. By holding the option key and restarting I can pull up a screen that has two squares one with a half circle arrow to the left. To the right, a square that has an arrow pointing east. It will only allow me to choose the right button, when I do so the curser shows a clock and turns back to arrow. When I hold c key and restart nothing happens. With the disc "Mac OS X" that is. It will sound like it's going to start but then...nothing. It still ejects discs holding the mouse button and pushing power button. Please help.
A flashing folder indicates that your Mac can't find a bootable system. When you hold down the Option key on startup most modern Macs will show a Boot loader. That is the blue screen with the two buttons you described. If you had a good hard drive with an OS installed, it would be displayed there as a button to click on. You should also be able to see any retail OS X install discs or Restore discs if it was in the optical drive. The OS install disc needs to have been released after the original sale date of your G4 in order to boot it. If you know the OS install discs will boot your computer but it does not show up in the boot loader then you may have a problem with the PATA bus.A way to test the hardware is by using a bootable FireWire drive. Most people do not have access to one but if you have another Mac with a current OS then you can use that. Boot up your good Mac holding down the "T" key. When the screen shows a blue background with a yellow FireWire symbol then you can connect the two Macs with a 6 pin FireWire cable. Reboot the sick Mac with the Option key held down. In the boot loader, select the good Mac's hard drive and press the forward arrow. When you get to a desktop you will be able to use Disk Utility to locate and fix the internal hard drive. If you cannot see the drive it would indicate a hardware failure and either the hard drive needs to be replaced or more serious service work needs to be done.I hope this gets you closer to reviving your G4.Jacob Loeb