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Dealing with old apple hardware. Logic Board Serial Number issues.

Category: Hardware , Support
Composed by: TheVintageMacTech
On: 2018-03-27 01:36:30

Hello ladies and gentlemen, Welcome to the first in hopefully a series of articles from me covering older apple hardware service and support matters, these articles are my own and do not contain copyrighted content.

My history with Apple goes back well over 23 years ago as a user / owner and 16 years back when I qualified through my college  to become a registered Apple Service Engineer supporting a 4 campus college complex with over 2000 macs. Back in the early 2000's  our site was filled with every mac going from relics like the Classic, Centris, Powermac 9600 / G3 Beige MT, through to the XServe G4 and XServe RAID, etc. There were also a large quantity of windows PC's but I didn't care about those.  Within the time I was based there for all of 3 years before University, I was in charge of the entire apple fleet as no other techs understood the systems well enough, the amount of times systems were offline as someone incorectly imaged an HFS drive, installed software that conflicted or deleted system extensions, or worse, didn't create sufficient client login credentials for OSX Server, that drove me mad. All I will say officially speaking is, since I left for University for a masters degree, staff were trained i apple service installations etc and 6 staff were enrolled in full exams so that they were fully qualified.

Enough of that, now it's time to share some knowledge...

One of the most frustrating things regarding apple hardware, especially machines like G4's, G5's and intel machines where OSX in particular gets security glitched is when a board loses it's serial ID. This can be caused by a replacement board or a couple of extremely rare phenominen including board shorts, etc. What happens is the Serial number that's flashed into ROM disappears, this means that security features built in to Mac OS, in particular Mac OSX are blocked. Why I hear you ask... Well, yes, the rumours are true. Apple employed a technology called BlackBox within the logic boards, basically a ROM chip containing theUnique ID for each machine with a ROM checker and revision checker for that particular board. Due to the way that Mac OS was created unlike windows where you use product keys and online activation, Mac OS looks for the CODED serial ID and UUID to authorise it, that's why even now, MAC OS X becomes free as it's tied to a mac owner via Apple ID and also inspects the Serial ID. Now, Blackbox technology changed but is still used in it's principle method for this reason of security.

Now, If your mac shows "System Serial Number" and not the hardware number it should have, then you're in for an interesting challenge, yes, a rather serious one at that. Yes, the matter is fixable but be warned, a mistake in a character and you have to start the entire process and force flash the rom all over again.

In order to fix this issue, you need a bootable CD called Blank Board Serialiser, which Apple service engineers and contractors used to carry with them as part of their CD kit, in the days, like me, when I qualified and was provided with the entire service library for contractor work, that was every version of Mac OS and Server build up to the early release of OSX 10.4, specialist installers and tools, etc.

Mbank Board Serialiser is exactly what it says on the tin, it allows you to flash into ROM the new serial ID. it's an OS9 based botable CD image that must be burned to CD and booted, this must not be used in an emulator, though in honesty, I can't say I've tested that, but wouldn't be certain of it's results. You're presented with a series of WARNING prompts up to 4 times to ensure you know what you're doing. you key in the hardware serial found on the case of your machine, reboot and your machine has the official traced board number needed for registering, installing full running software and also for OS Updates via the System Update Server which tracks each user login and system if done through auto update method.

Because this software is pretty hardcore and still used by Apple, I wouldn't be too comfortable uploading this software, unless an admin gave me permission to do so. however, you can "google" it and find a download for the software. Be warned, use at your own risk, it's all well and good watching youtube videos showing how it's done, but the true explaination isn't correct as in some cases.


More to come soon, I promise.



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