The system hive was apparently damaged when the user out of sheer frustraion with BSOD and dump decided to stop waiting for the dump and power cycled. Now system is so badly corrupted XP claims it doesn't exist. There is a similarly named file, system.log, which also happens to be the same size. What miracle can be performed using that file to ressurect a functional system hive?
This doesn't work
copy \windows\repair\system \windows\system32\config\system
Well technically the copy does copy but XP flashes a notice about password something. Maybe 20 or 30 more times I'll be able to read the complete message because it's visible a fraction of a second before XP reboots. :(
(We've already up the hard drive using Ghost8 since Acronis was total junk -- not being able to use the external DVD burner.)
I'd really really really rather not reinstall from scratch right now.