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Recovery Console, No CD drive, and a bad NTOSKRNL.exe, all in a Laptop


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I've got a problem with my Compaq laptop, and I can't seem to find any solutions that fit, either here or anywhere else online, so I'm going to see if anyone's got any ideas.

First, the rules I'm limited to:

1. It's a laptop, with a non-standard hard drive, so I can't remove it and put it into another system as a slave drive.

2. It's a laptop, with only the floppy drive currently working. The CD/DVD drive is hot-swappable once Windows is up and running, but for now, I can only get the system to read/boot from the floppy.

3. WinXP came as OEM, and I don't have an original install CD. I do have the software key for XP, but that doesn't do me much good at this point (you'll see why later).

4. Safe mode does not work.

5. Last known good config does not work.

6. It's a single-boot, single partition drive, with no other drives present.

7. I do not have a capability to burn a CD at this time (the laptop had my only CDRW drive)

Here's the error message:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:

<Windows root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe.

Please re-install a copy of the above file.

The next problem is that in the recovery console, the i386 drive is not available (Error message says "access is denied".) Additionally, when trying to expand the ntkrnlmb.ex_ file to the system32 folder from a higher-level directory (root), I get an error message that says "Unable to create file ntkrnlmp.exe", I'm guessing because it wants to create the .exe file in the i386 folder and that's not available to me.

I've verified that the ntoskrnl.exe file is 2179328 bytes, which is the same as what it is on my desktop system, leading me to believe that the file itself is fine, but the problem is elsewhere in the configuration. Quite a few other online sources indicate this as a likely cause as well.

I can use the floppy recovery disks (downloaded and created from the Microsoft KB website) to get into Recovery Console. But without being able to use a CD drive, I can't use the chkdsk /r function.

The following is the contents of my boot.ini file:

[boot loader]



[operating systems]

multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition"

/fastdetect /NoExecute=OptIn

To me, that looks right.

I've tried just about everything in the book, and nothing seems to be working. I've been tinkering with PC's for 20 years, but this one's got me stumped.

Anyone here have any ideas on what to do next, besides wiping everything and losing all my files (which is what HP/Compaq recommended)?



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Why are you trying to copy ntkrnlmb.ex_ to replace ntoskrnl.exe?

It's not boot.ini problem. In any case, that's easy to fix with the bootcfg command.

I don't quite follow why you can't run chkdsk without CD - the file is on the CD? Then would running chkdsk.exe from system32 directly work?

I suppose someone can send you the NTOSKRNL.EX_ file - 946KB.

Edited by Takeshi
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I was trying to expand the ntkrnlmp file from the i386 directory because that was what was suggested by the tech support folks at HP/Compaq.

As for the chkdsk function, it wasn't so much that I couldn't run that program itself, it was the /r parameter that was advised by several websites. The /r brought up a query for the location of the autochk.exe file, which I couldn't readily find on my drive and all the other sites said it was on the XP install CD.

After reading your response about the ntoskrnl.ex_ file (which I hadn't known existed), I was able to successfully expand that file to the system32 folder. So I decided to see what happened from there.

Now I get a new error:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:


You can attempt to repair this file by starting Windows Setup using the original Setup CD-ROM.

Select 'r' at the first screen to start repair.

How do I go about fixing this one???



(PS: I really do mean that "thanks"... this is at least progress beyond what I'd gotten before, and more help than what HP/Compaq was willing to give!)

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I would concentrate on getting that chkdsk /f to run before doing anything else. Otherwise you may be causing more damage as you copy additional files onto a possibly already corrupted disk.

When it gives the error about autochk.exe, it should be located in c:\windows\system32 or the c:\windows\system32\dllcache. I think it prompts you for the location, right? If those locations don't work, you could try copying autochk.exe from another PC to a floppy disk and tell it to look in a:\

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I found the autochk.exe out in the system32 folder, and am now running a chkdsk /r on the hard drive. The first 50% went by very quickly, but the next 5% have been very VERY slow. It may have come upon a problem. The entire drive is 16GB, with about 4.7 GB free.

I'll edit this post when it gets done.



The chkdsk /r (the /f option isn't available in recovery console) is complete, and it reported that it found and repaired errors. When I rebooted, it still gave the same error as before (about ntfs.sys). I copied that from my XP desktop (same one I'm using to access this forum), and replaced the original ntfs.sys with the one from the desktop, and noted that they are both the same filesize, so likely to be the same file.

Once again, I got the same error.

I even tried going in through the safe mode, but still, after loading a couple dozen of the normal drivers, it hit that ntfs.sys and produced the error.

Now what???

Edited by wwattles
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(PS: I really do mean that "thanks"... this is at least progress beyond what I'd gotten before, and more help than what HP/Compaq was willing to give!)

You're welcome.

Since I'm not tech support staff I tend to think differently from them, only applying basic prinicples and common sense.

I too suspect your HD has errors. Have you tried running chkdsk again? If it can't be taken out easily for further testing then you have to speak to Compaq about it.

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With no CD to boot from your best bet of getting files/repairing this laptop is to PXE boot bart PE from the network jack. With this loaded in memory you can easily run chkdsk and map a network share to restore files if the chkdsk fails.

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