Total System Failure - Recover?


Last night after returning from a 2-week trip abroad with my Mac in tow, the system crashed. It was impossible to reboot the system. It would seemingly go through a normal reboot, but at the point when it should ask for my name and password, it would just show a blue screen and nothing else. On later attempts it would just shutdown.

So, I entered single-user mode.
From here I entered fsck -y (and later fsck -fy)
Although I don't have the computer w/me at work, the errors were something to the following effect:
It would find I/O errors on the disk, which it could not fix. And there were errors with the, what is it - B-Tree? something like that.

As I recall, the same error or a similar error happened soon after I installed Tiger on my system. The only way to recovered I was told was to reinstall, which I did. Being worried however that there was a severe problem with my HD I was told, as I recall, that if OSX will install on the disk, then there aren't any problems with it - (i.e., during the install OSX will check the HD). Also, I recall doing a Check Disk after the install and I believe I did one not long before leaving on my trip.

Anyhow, my immediate question is this: How can I get the information that is on the HD off of it? Can I somehow do a firewire to firewire connection between 2 macs and copy all information off the HD? Or could I maybe boot of a CD (OSX or Debian maybe) and then somehow move the information off the HD to an external drive?
You can do both as long as the hard drive in your computer is readable. Hold T on startup of your mac with the bad drive and you will see the FireWire symbol on the screen. It is now waiting for you to connect via FireWire to another Mac.

Another option is to startup off a bootable CD and then connect an external USB or FireWire hard drive and attempt to copy the data off your mac.

Unfortunately, if the hard drive's scheme of locating data saved on it isn't working correctly (I believe this is the b-tree index that may be damaged in your case), then you may not be able to get to some or even all of the data on your mac's hard drive.
I will try your advice tonight. Another question I have is this. I now believe that my HD is hosed. This is an iBook G3. Do you think I can go and buy a typical notebook HD and put it in there and it'll work?
Unfortunately, targeted disk mode didn't work. My iBook entered TDM but no external disk showed up on my eMac. I know it works otherwise because I used TDM to install Tiger on my iBook. I am interested in how I could actually use a bootable CD to copy the info off my iBook to an external drive. Any ideas on exactly how I could do this?