The integration between OS X and Apple hardware can make it difficult to distinguish hardware from software issues.
David Garozzo describes a remarkable FireWire resuscitation (with no help from Apple):
My father called me last week to tell me that his FireWire port on his 14' G3/600 iBook died and that his AppleCare ran out in March. He said his USB port still works, so he can still hook up his iPod, external hard drive, and his new external DVD burner, but since his iBook's USB port isn't USB 2.0, it would run much slower. Even though his AppleCare had expired, I advised him to call them anyway. They had him boot into Open Firmware and type 'reset-r'. The response was 'unknown'. They had him type it three times, and got the same response each time. Then they told him that he needed a new logic board and that it would cost about $315. He opted to not get it fixed at that time.
This past weekend, I took a look at the computer and couldn't figure out what the problem was. It wouldn't recognize any IEEE device. Looking up the FireWire info in System Profiler showed 'no information' about the FireWire port. Figuring that it couldn't hurt anything, I decided to upgrade the iBook from Panther to Tiger. The install went smoothly, and to my surprise, the FireWire port started working again! System Diagnostics now reports a max speed of 400 mb/sec, and all devices are now recognized.
I'm not sure if any other readers have had an experince like this. I'm very disappointed with my father's call to Apple. I searched the web, and from what I can tell, 'reset-r' isn't a valid Open Firmware command. ...
[There may have been a communication issue confusing the valid 'reset all' with 'reset-r'. -MacInTouch]