QEII Student IT
Restored, Hard drive replaced, still won't boot
A friend of mine's iBook's hard drive has been slowly dying after he partitioned it to dual boot Mac and Ubuntu. It got to the point where it would not boot unless you went through +S and fsck-fy every time and finally it stopped booting at all. At first I tried re-imaging it with a known good tiger image, this didn't work as the hard drive was in three partitions and completely broken. I then replaced the hard drive with a blank, Mac OS X formatted one. I have tried several times to image this drive via Firewire Target Mode and Disk Utility on my eMac. All of the times Disk Utility reports no problems but when I try to boot the iBook, I get that screen where the folder with the finder face flashes with a question mark. When I boot holding alt, it can detect no bootable drive.
(If it helps, I know the iBook is functional because I can boot from a CD)
Sometimes machines which "wake up" the first time with an image or install of the OS that was actually performed on another machine have trouble recognizing the hard drive as the primary boot device. Sometimes that folder will flash for a while, and then it will eventually find it. You might try resetting the PMU and PRAM. Actually, this vaguely sounds like a scenario which may involve the machine having a PRAM/open firmware password in place (machines that do can be especially problematic), so you may want to change the amount of RAM and immediately reset the PRAM three times in order to clear a PRAM password, in case there is any possibility of the machine having one.
Unless I'm reading you wrong, it sounds like you haven't tried to do a regular OS install on this machine, i.e. put the Tiger DVD in the machine, etc. If you haven't done this because you are not able to for some reason, then that could possibly support evidence that there is a password in place, as I mentioned above.