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Macintosh OS/Macbook Pro only boots into single user mode


My son’s summer 2011 15-inch MacBook Pro running Mavericks stopped booting up. We can only get a blue, black, or white screen while trying all of the following:

Booting into safe mode: bar only filled halfway before white screen
Booting while holding option: no matter what I choose (all tried during separate boots), Mac HD, Recovery, or Install disk that I put in disk drive—all resulted in white screen or blue screen with vertical lines.
Booting for Netboot using an N, the globe spins and the bar fills all the way to the end before screen goes white/blue.
Booting with Cmd C did not force the mac to read the disk drive.
Booting with a D did not go into the Apple Hardware Test
Reset prams using Cmd/Option/P/R numerous times—did nothing.
Verbose mode—didn’t give us any errors.

WE ARE ABLE to get into single user mode.

I made a bootable Mavericks installer on a usb jump drive from my 13-inch macbook pro (we’re both using Mavericks).  His computer would not read the drive, and when the jump drive showed up in Option boot, we clicked on it and it resulted in a white or blue screen.

I messed with it for an entire day; finally took out the hard drive and put it back in.  I got in once using Option and choosing Recovery and was able to reinstall Mavericks in disk utility.  At least my son was able to get all files off that he needed.  This only lasted for 2 days before the mac reverted to its previous behavior.

After googling for days, I finally found the following to try in Single User mode, since that is the only boot we can use with success:

/sbin/fsck –fy /
/sbin/mount –uw /
mkdir /Disabled_System_Library_Extensions
cd / Disabled_System_Library_Extensions
mv /System/Library/Extensions/ATI* .
mv /System/Library/Extensions/AMD* .
touch /System/Library/Extensions

This worked perfectly and I was able to get in! But I wanted to do a clean install by wiping out the HD in Disk Utility and then doing a Network Recovery, so that I would get an OS X that came with the computer.  I wanted to start all over.

But, I couldn’t boot up any other way than going into Single User mode and typing in the above—therefore, I couldn’t get into OS X Utilities.  After booting up that way 3 times trying to figure out how to do a clean install, I ran into other trouble:

Now when I try to go into Recovery mode, my only options are OS X Install and Recovery HD.  His Mac HD is no longer showing up, and both those choices do not work—goes to white/blue screen.

Verbose mode starts and flashes off halfway through.

I can’t use anything in Single User mode—the root# prompt has been replaced with –sh-3,2#

Most commands return “no such file or directory,” or “command not found.”  If I run fsck –fy / it says everything is ok.  If I run mount  -uw or uaw / I get a bazillion lines saying “disk2s2: device is write protected.” With “[ErrType IO] and [ErrNo 13] under each, among other things.  If I try to use cd\ it says HOME not set.

I tried some commands without running mount –uw, but still got all kinds of errors noted above. I have googled and tried everything I could find on the internet.

I would really like to wipe out the HD and go back to factory settings.  Have any ideas?


You're clearly strong with the Terminal...probably better than I am (I've compiled a couple of unix utilities, but that's about it.)

I think the drive is bad. While the section of the hard drive that allows you to get into single user (the unix bootstrap) is good - you're pretty stuck at that point. Particularly "His Mac HD is no longer showing up, and both those choices do not work—goes to white/blue screen."

You've gotten the files off already...

I don't believe there's coding magic to make this worthwhile.

I think the internal drive needs replacing. That's your best bet at this point.

You don't say where you are, is there an Apple store nearby?

Macintosh OS

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Jeff Greenberg


I can comfortably answer most basic/advanced questions regarding Macintosh hardware and software - nowadays only OSX. In fact, if it's prior to 10.3, there's a good chance I'll reject your question. Forget OS9 stuff - Igave up OS 9 ten years ago). Please do not ask me about OS9. My particular specialties are in Video editing/DVD authoring. I am a certified trainer in the "pro apps" (Final Cut, DVDSP, Soundtrack, Motion). I have been using Macs since 1985.


I'm an Apple Cert. Trainer for FCP, DVD SP, since the inception of this program. I've was
certified as an Apple Cert. Technician back in 1989.

Videography, Macworld, Tibits

BA film- Penn State. Certifications from Apple, Adobe and Avid for training.

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