If you’re not a technical computer person this won’t mean much to you.
Worked on an installation of WinXP today that was running fine, but upon rebooting decided it wasn’t going to boot. Now WinXP itself, once it boots, is pretty stable and overall very good. But HEAVEN HELP YOU if it won’t boot.
First it was “Can’t find NTLDR.” Then it was “Can’t find \windows\system32\hal.dll” Or nothing. Sometimes it just went to a black screen and sat there. Real helpful. Give me a fucking clue!
One good place to try and fix problems like that is the Recovery Console. So I put the XP CD in, wait for the “Press any key to boot from CD”, hit a key, press F6 to load a special driver (THAT process depends on having a floppy disk and would be a subject for a whole other pitting) wait another couple minutes, and finally you’re at a menu where you can pick Recovery Console. Sheesh. Then another 10 seconds or so, pick your installtion of Windows, type the password and you’re finally at a rudimentary command prompt. There are a variety of things you can try there, none of which helped my boot problem.
So I decide to try repairing the existing installation of XP, I know all my files are there and I don’t want to reinstall all my programs and hardware. Only problem is, after going through the 2-3 minute process to get to THAT menu selection, the option to Repair isn’t there. And the XP install program doesn’t tell you WHY that option isn’t there!
Hours more fiddling around, running chkdsk alone takes 30 or 40 minutes each time, finally something I did gives me the option to Repair. Of course that doesn’t go smoothly, it’s complaining about RAID drivers. Finally I get the repair to go through the first stage, but then during the boot, Blue Screen of Death! Shit!
The whole XP install/repair process is so jumbled, slow, time consuming, and non-informative. I really miss the days where you could just boot to a fucking COMMAND PROMPT without needing a boot CD. And why XP is so secretive about boot errors? If something is wrong, don’t just crash, tell me what the fuck is wrong! And the default blue-screen error only flashes on the screen for a moment before XP AUTOMATICALLY REBOOTS!
There should be a command prompt running beneath Windows. Windows itself should be booted from within the command prompt unless there is a problem booting, in which case a LOG FILE should be written and you should be dumped back to a command prompt. All the repair tools should be in one place, in one consistent set of menus Is that asking so much?
The only reliable way to deal with big XP problems is to reinstall from scratch, and that just SUCKS.