Hard disk problem - how to proceed?


I have a G4 flat-screen iMac running OSX Panther. Yesterday it completely froze up, and on trying to reboot I was faced with a plain grey screen with just a small folder icon and within it alternating a Finder "face" logo and a question mark.
By searching this site today I learned how to get the CD drive open, and also about using the system install disk to launch Disk Utility. I've got Disk Utility open and in the panel on the left it lists the Hard Drive, together with the Superdrive and the disk itself. On highlighting the hard drive it gves some details (size etc). I selected "First Aid" and it says "Select Volume and click a repair button" However the box below this instruction is empty and all the repair buttons are "greyed out".

Any ideas how to proceed? Should I try re-installing the OS? I should say that there are some digital photos on this drive (and nowhere else) that I don't want to lose (I know, I know!) so my first priority is to try to get it working enough to get copies of the photo files onto a USB flash drive or something. I don't want to do anything that might harm my chances of saving those photo files.

Thanks in advance for any advice.
Another possible solution - based on what you stated, if you do not have access to 'Disk Warrior':

01. Borrow someones Mac, or visit someone with a Mac, or visit the London Apple Store ['<http://www.apple.com/uk/retail/regentstreet/week/20050612.html>'].
02. Connect a Firewire cable to your Mac and the other Mac.
03. Turn ON your G4 iMac with the 'T' key pressed. This in effect makes your G4 iMac an external Firewire drive.
04. Turn ON the other Mac. When its 'Desktop' appears, so should your G4 iMac as a hard disk drive.
05. Transfer your files (photos, etc.,) to the other Mac. If it has CD / DVD burning capabilities - make your copies then and there. Also, copy over your 'Home' 'Library' folders' 'Preferences' folder and place them onto a CD / DVD.
06. Do a complete re-install of MacOS X [Panther], including erasing the hard drive - via the 'Options' button during the installation process.

Sadly, unlike with System 9.2.2 and earlier, Mac'ers now do the same as Windoz'ers when it comes to solving a large number of MacOS X problems - re-install the OS, then any Applications, etc.

07. Once the MacOS is again installed, drag the new 'Home' 'Library' folders' 'Preferences' folder to the trash. Do not delete it.
08. Now, you can copy the copied 'Preferneces' folder.
09. Log out, and then log in. You can now empty the trash.
10. From this point - you can install any related MacOS X Updates - 10.3.1 - 10.3.9.


With respect to the above reply of using 'Disk Warrior', DW, for Panther (10.3.0 - 10.3.9) it would be worth the try. DW - for Panther, earlier MacOS X'es, and System 9.2.2 and earlier. is quite a utility.


A brief 'DW and Tiger' tangent:
For those using Tiger, to use DW - you must use v. 3.0.3 or later. I am a little leary of v. 3.0.3, however. I used it when Apples' 'Disk Utiltiy' could not repair a damaged volume. DW did indeed repair the volume problems, and Apples' 'Disk Utility' then stated the volume as OK. However, Tigers' menu bar based 'Spotlight' would not allow any text to be entered from then on. After numerous failed attempts to resolve that problem, I reinstalled 10.4.0.
Please note: the above is based on using DW v. 3.0.3, once, on one Tiger based Mac problem - your experience(s) may and mostly will vary.


Sincerely yours,