I was running software update, and the whole computer locked up tight right in the middle of installing (even the mouse wouldn’t move). Hard rebooted after a long wait. The machine rebooted fine except – no Finder. I did end up fixing it. Here’s what I tried.
Finder never came back, but the apple menu with the “Software Updates…” was there. I installed those.
After rebooting again I got the finder back. The other desktop apps however were nowhere to be found. I reinstalled the 10.3.9 update by downloading it manually from Apple Support. That brought the apps back, except they wouldn’t actually run. Running the console revealed that the machine thought the Addressbook.framework/Versions/A/Addressbook file was empty. So I mounted the other Mac in the house (after verifying that the OS version was also 10.3.9) and copied it over using sudo. Turned out there was another couple of libraries that were missing so I copied them over as well. Everything is working now.
I guess I really, really should get the extra memory. This do it yourself mini memory upgrade guide will come in handy.
And that my friends, is why it’s a Unix machine.