Leopard Bricked My Powerbook!

Nov 1st, 2007 | By | Category: General, Podcasting Hardware

Sad MacIt looks like Apple’s decision to delay the release of Leopard still didn’t give them enough time to give the operating system update a thorough testing. After four hours+ of updating, the OS X 10.5 install turned my Powerbook G4 into a doorstop.

After doing the upgrade, the laptop is requiring a login, though it was set to log in automatically before. That would have been a minor problem, if the upgraded laptop would just recognize my password.

Unfortunately, this issue is a common problem, and Apple has issued a support doc on it:

Issue or symptom

You may not be able to log in with a user account that has a password of 8 or more characters and was originally created in Mac OS X 10.2.8 or earlier, after performing an upgrade installation of Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard (the default installation type).

Products affected

* Mac OS X 10.5
* Mac OS X 10.5 Server

The recommended solution is to boot into single-user mode and do a little Unix command-line clean-up. When we tried this, though, the command-line was so painfully slow that we actually baked a batch of cookies while waiting for one command to register. To top it off, the suggested fix didn’t work.

We’re scheduling a trip to the Apple Genius on this one.

Large numbers of users are having problems updating to OS X 10.5. Other problems that appear to be fairly common are the Mac equivalent of the blue screen of death and networking troubles.

Update: I spent two hours with an Apple Genius working with this – most of the time spent with reboots. It’s still bricked, hosed, locked, unusable, playing hard to get…..whatever you like to call it. I left it with the Geniuses.

Update 2: The Geniuses were extremely friendy, but ended up reinstalling the OS using the archive and install option, and the Powerbook. This got me logged in, but the OS was acting so strange that they recommended a clean install. After a clean install and a lot of reloading files from backup and tweaking settings, it’s¬†getting close to usable again.

15 Responses to “Leopard Bricked My Powerbook!”

  1. Rob Blatt says:

    You’re using bricked incorrectly.

    Bricked means there is no hope, the machine will not turn on and does not function. If you’re simply having issues logging in, but the machine is otherwise functional, you have not bricked your machine.

  2. info says:


    For now – the powerbook is a doorstop, it’s functionally useless.

  3. elisabeth says:

    It’s technically not a doorstop. It is technically a decoration on the dining room table. It clashes with the muted autumnal decorations.

    And it is very much not working, there in the middle of the table. Snail’s pace, command line typing does not qualify as working. Ugh.

    Are you sure this is not a heavy-handed ploy to upgrade your 2 yo Mac for a shiny shiny new one?

  4. Pete says:

    No, the Powerbook needs you to do the work-around to fix it. If you do that it will work. If it does not work, you have a different issue. I understand the frustration but seriously, your machine isn’t bricked. Borked, not bricked.

  5. Larry says:

    Your asking for trouble if you don’t make a backup of your existing system before you upgrade. This isn’t Apple’s fault since the first thing they tell you to do is backup first. If your still upgrading from 10.2.8 or previous, than the fault lies with you and your system is well overdue for a clean install at any rate.

  6. DCT says:

    Reading the boards such as macfixit.com “before” upgrading would have saved much time and aggravation. I too have a PowerBook G4 and the upgrade was flawless. My PowerBook G4 is more responsive than ever with Leopard. I’m not saying that I haven’t run into a few annoyances but they’re a far cry from having a useless computer… which I cannot comprehend unless you had a hardware failure that inconveniently took hold when you applied the update.

    Hopefully you backed everything up before upgrading. With that assumption on the table, and if the computer is functional but not accessible, then erase the drive and load all from scratch. The end result will be well worth it.

  7. info says:


    You’re sounding a bit fan-boy-esque. I’m not sure how you can say it’s not Apple’s fault when their software update can turn your Mac into a paperweight. It’s also a bit fan-boy-esque to suggest that it’s my fault as the upgrader.

    The Powerbook was actually a currently-patched 10.4 system. Based on the info at Apple’s website, the problem is that there’s a bug with the way Leopard handles passwords over 8 characters.

    Maybe you think it’s my fault the upgrade is borked…..because I used a strong password on my account.

  8. msr says:

    Why not boot from the Leopard install DVD and change the password to one with 8 or fewer characters?

  9. DBL says:

    Face it. Ever since the infamous iPhone ‘bricking’ (which was not a real bricking) popularised the word ‘bricking’, the chances of any particular usage of it ever being correct will now approach zero. ‘Bricked’ now means ‘won’t start up without a repair procedure’ — that’s what happened to the iPhone, and that’s what happened to this fellow’s Mac. That’s really not what it meant before in the pre-iPhone era, but … tough titty. That’s the way of language. Some influential bloggers wanted to smear Apple with the word ‘bricking’; they succeeded so spectacularly, that as a result the meaning of ‘bricking’ is now changing to fit the way they warped it to achieve their objectives. PC dudes I know who I had never heard use the word bricking before now use it all the time, and to a man they use the new Apple-unfriendly meaning, rather than the original. Luckily, once the inevitability of the new meaning becomes clear to everyone, having something ‘bricked’ won’t sound like as big a disaster anymore. This process is already well under way and blog posts like this are helping it along. Unfortunately, though, we are now going to have to come up with a replacement way to say ‘will never start up again’. I predict that the once-redundant phrase ‘bricked permanently’ will soon come into common use.

  10. info says:

    msr – been there, done that, didn’t work.

  11. Keith says:

    use Linux

  12. […] Our experience mirrors Winer’s.¬†Leopard installed fine on an eMac, lost many of our preferences on a iBook and Leopard bricked our Powerbook. The root of the problem we encountered updating our Powerbook appears to have been related to using passwords longer than 8 characters. That harkens back to Windows 3.1. […]

  13. Angela says:

    Backup first! I use LifeAgent from Memeo. It automatically backs up my files to multiple destinations – USB drive, networks, online storage. You can get a free 30 day trial at http://www.memeo.com. I found that it works better than Time Machine because it offers more options and even lets you backup to your iDisk account which isn’t possible with Time Machine. Best of luck getting your computer back up and running. And don’t forget to backup. Angela – http://www.memeo.com

  14. Mark says:

    I have an 15″ Aluminum G4 PowerBook [1.92GHz (Daystar CPU upgrade from 1.25GHz), 1.5 GB RAM (1.0 GB of which is non-Apple), 80GB HD, Tiger 10.4.11] and I can’t get the Leopard Install DVD to get farther along than the spinning black circle which starts after choosing to install, and, which, after about 2 minutes spinning, FREEZES (stops spinning)…and Hangs. Can anyone help me successfully install Leopard (if, indeed, you think I should bother trying that at all on a non-Intel PowerBook)? Thanks.

  15. Daniel says:

    I have a Powerbook G4 dvi with 800 MHZ and 1GB of RAM I want leopard, (though my computer doesn’t meet the minimum requirements) and looked this up. If anyone has access to another computer with Leopard installed, try this different kind of installation:

    Download and install SuperDuper! (free unregistered version [look it up on google]) and backup the computer you want to have Leopard on, on an external hard drive. Backup to a external hard drive (using time machine), Reinstall, and erase the leopard computer. (if it has stuff you don’t want on your other computer) Now clone the Leopard computer with SuperDuper to your non-leopard computer and use migration assistant (in your app utilities) to get your files and applications from the external hard drive back on your computer that didn’t have leopard. Restore the leopard computer with time machine to get it back the way it was before you reinstalled it. now you have two leopard computers! I have not tested if this works, I just got it from a different website. I am going to test it out in a couple days.

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