OS X 10.3.8 Hangs on "Login Window Starting" at Boot | April 18, 2005

So over the weekend my iBook stopped working. Every time I tried to boot it up, the computer would hang at exactly the same place – “Login Window Starting”. I tried booting into safe mode, but it still hung. None of the usual Mac troubleshooting tips like repairing permissions or resetting the PRAM worked. I checked the Apple support site but came up blank. A quick search showed me that lot’s of people were experiencing the same problems, and each one suggested doing something different to fix it. The two most fixes that looked the best involved trashing the login prefs and ditching the font cache. However neither of them seemed to do the trick. Bugger!

Faced with the thought of an energy sapping hour long phone call to Apple technical support, there was only one thing left to try. Reinstalling the OS. Now when I was a Windows person, It seemed that reinstalling the OS was a regular event. I’ve never had to do this on a MAC, and to be honest I’d hoped I never would. I grabbed all the important info off the iBook by starting it in Target Disk (Firewire) mode, reminding myself that I really need to sort out a back-up solution and then set about reinstalling the OS. For minimum hassle I did an “Archive and Install” and then immediately upgraded to OS X 10.3.9. This seems to have done the trick, so if you find yourself experiencing the same problem, it looks like a reinstall may be your only option :-(

Posted at April 18, 2005 8:20 AM


Rob McMichael said on April 18, 2005 10:35 AM

Heh, and with Tiger so close too. Seems like a strange one though, had you just upgraded to 10.3.9?

Andy Budd said on April 18, 2005 10:44 AM


Thordur Arnason said on April 18, 2005 2:43 PM

Did you check the logs for clues?


I bet you’d find the cause there :)

Thordur Arnason said on April 18, 2005 2:44 PM

Did you check the logs for clues?


I bet you’d find the cause there :)

andrew said on April 18, 2005 3:09 PM

Most definitely it’s your font cache.

Hope that helps out!

andrew said on April 18, 2005 3:11 PM

D’oh, just re-read your post. N/m.

Tim Siedell said on April 19, 2005 2:24 AM

Dude, I had the same thing happen to my iMac this weekend after I upgraded to 10.3.9. Hung up at exactly the same place (“Login Window Starting’). Weird.

chrixian said on April 23, 2005 9:45 AM

curious of you got this fixed?

koh said on June 29, 2005 1:18 AM

My colleague’s PoweBook exhibited the same symptom. I checked the system and found the contents of /System/Library/CoreServices/loginwindow.app and /System/Libray/CoreServices/Dock.app, and the folder of /System/Library/ServerStartup had been lost.
I copied those missing files from my G5 and managed to recover the system.

I don’t know why this happened. She did nothing special before the trouble.

Your case might be something kind of this one.

Stefan said on August 21, 2005 2:37 AM

Experienced same problem, copying system files from working OS X partition did not solve the problem — I’m currently doing an archive & install :-(
(Too late for cache delete operations)

Marc said on December 29, 2005 3:50 PM

So when you do the install with archive, what gets saved? Will my entourage emails and stuff survive, and howabout iPhoto photos?

I experienced this problem on the next startup after installing a Adobe Photoshop trial.

Michael said on January 12, 2006 3:49 AM

The exact thing happened to my Blue&White G3 today, I was updating from 10.3 to 10.3.9, it was installing and i accedently tripped over the power cord. It would just hang at the apple logo (gray screen with the spinning circle thing), so I reinstalled 10.3 using the option upgrade (i didn’t format the HD because I had a lot of important data in os9). Now it would just hang at the “Login Window Starting” Please, can someone help me?! I have tried all of the googled the problem and tried all the solutions but nothing would happen.

David said on March 24, 2006 7:55 AM

I landed here because you guessed it this just happened to me. I was on a 500 MHz iMac running OS 10.3.9 and I was in the middle of running Software Update. The Quicktime update had a red exclamation point next to it and then the mac got hung up on the update.

Eventually I hit the reset button on the side. After that I couldn’t get past the ‘Login Window Starting’ at boot.

I tried all kinds of starts and ran fsck in single-user mode. Nothing.

Aargh. Tomorrow I will do the Target Disk Mode (if the machine supports it) to save files and then reinstall OS. Maybe I’ll just archive and install like the original poster above.

oh well