The other day, my wife received a call from an acquaintance that indicated that her Windows XP system was refusing to perform its regular duties. I was called in to assist and oblige the box back into working life.
The problem as the computer described it was that a file by the name of hal.dll was missing. The system didn’t even want to boot in safe mode.
Assuming that the file was actually missing I made a copy of the c:\\windows\\system32 (the presumed location of the missing file) from my laptop to CD. The idea was to boot to Recovery mode on the the XP CD and copy the file back.
Recovery mode booted just fine until it prompted for the Administrator password. Unfortunately, this password had long been lost.
After some googling I found a bootable Linux CD which allowed me to reset the Administrator password to a known value.
Once this was complete, the Windows XP CD booted perfectly into Recovery mode. Once there is ran chkdisk (since I had modified the disk when reseting the password).
After that I followed Microsoft’s instructions to bring the system back to life.
The whole problem appears to have been that the boot.ini file got corrupted or lost (I couldn’t actually find it).
ah, C’est la vie.