Hi, Brian! Before I proceed today, I want to pass along to you my enormous gratitude for your extremely valuable assistance! You've provided exceptional aid in the past, as well, and I can't thank you enough!
Okay, here's some data I obtained from the problem system in question using a bootable CD and its bundled tools. This info repeats and also fleshes out what I explained in my OP (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=1179#p5883
), particularly this part:
"... Boot.ini is set to boot from partition 1, but I'm confused about whether or not that's correct. You see, the actual boot partition starts at the front of the disk at sector 63, and is the first active NTFS primary partition, so it sure seems to me that boot.ini SHOULD point to partition 1 (but that causes the missing/corrupt HAL.DLL). However, when I go into "BIBM -> Partition Work -> View MBR", the boot partition is shown THIRD in the list, but I'm not sure that's what matters, because that Knowledge Base article 130 [correction: its actually KB 159] states that primary partitions are counted first and I don't know whether to count entries 1 & 2 or not. Also, if I go into "BIBM -> Boot Edit" and select the main (default) boot entry and select "Edit", the boot partition is listed third again, yet under "Boot Details -> Boot" I've properly selected the correct boot partition. ..."
So, here's the actual contents of boot.ini:
multi(0)disk(0)rdisk(0)partition(1)\WINDOWS="Microsoft Windows XP Professional" /noexecute=optin /fastdetect
BTW, I tried changing the string "partition(1)" to "partition(3)", but when I booted I still got the "missing HAL.DLL" error message".
So why did I try that change to use (3)? As I explained in that section of my OP that I pasted above, some information suggests that my XP boot partition is the first one, while other info leads me to believe it's the third (always counting from 1). Here are two different reports from two different & contradictory partition utils on that bootable CD:
Report 1, from "DiskGenius V3.2.1211":
Disk Partition List
Disk Name: HD0: SiImage (932GB) Capacity: 931.5GB Model: SiImage SerialNumber: ð
Parameters: 121602 Cylinders 255 Heads 63 Sectors. Total Sectors: 1953542144
Partition Table Style: MBR
Seq. Name System Boot ID Begin.Cyl. Head Sector End.Cyl. Head Sector Size
0 SIL_BOOTSYS_12-JUN-1 NTFS 80 07 0 1 1 17622 254 63 135.0GB <<--- (This is my XP boot partition)
1 BOOTIT~1(1) FAT12 00 0e 17624 0 1 17624 254 63 7.8MB
2 SILVOL1(E:) NTFS 00 07 18312 0 8 63740 254 63 348.0GB
3 Extended Partition EXTEND 00 0f 63741 0 1 121601 254 63 443.2GB
4 GENERAL(D:) NTFS 00 07 63741 1 1 121601 254 63 443.2GB
But, here's Report 2, from MBRWiz:
MBRWiz - Version 3.0.73 for Windows
Copyright (c) 2002-2010 Firesage Solutions, LLC
³ Disk: 0 MBR/GPT: MBR ³
³ Size: 931.52GB CHS: 121602 255 63 ³
³ Sectors: 1953542144 Disk Signature: 0x56712428 ³
³ Partitions: 4 Partition Order: 1 2 3 4 ³
³ Media Type: Fixed Interface: SCSI ³
³ Description: SiImage ³
³Pos Idx Type/Name Size Boot Hide Start Sector Total Sectors DL Vol Label ³
ÃÄÄÄ ÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ ÄÄ ÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄÄ´
³ 1 1 07-NTFS 348G No No 294,182,287 729,816,878 E: SILVOL1 ³
³ 2 2 0F-EXTEND 443G No No 1,023,999,165 929,536,965 <None> ³
³ 3 3 07-NTFS 134G Yes No 63 283,113,432 C: SIL_BOOTSYS³ <<--- (This is my XP Boot partition)
³ 4 4 DF-UNKNWN 7.8M No No 283,129,560 16,065 <None> ³
(Sorry for the lousy formatting, but as I explain in my "aside" at the end of this post*, I can't change to a fixed-width font -or- use a CODE box...)
Finally, since KB 159 (http://www.terabyteunlimited.com/kb/article.php?id=159
) explains that boot.ini partition numbers are counted in order of primary partitions first, I honestly can't figure out if I should use partition(1) as Report 1 from DiskGenius shows, or partition(3), as Report 2 from MBRWiz shows!
Please help my thinking on this: Which partition number should I use in boot.ini??
* An aside: for some reason, whenever I try to enable BBCode in the user control panel, it tells me it succeeded, but in actuality every time I enter a full reply, it ALWAYS says "BBCode is OFF", so that's why I haven't been using all the nice features that BBCode would otherwise provide, such as the QUOTE tags and other helpful formatting options... Can anyone tell me what I need to do in order to properly enable BBCode?