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How I fixed my Windows XP Stop c000021a {Fatal System Error} with Knoppix Linux

Below are steps describing how I used Knoppix Linux to fix the dreaded Windows XP ‘Error Message: Stop c000021a {Fatal System Error} The Session Manager Initialization System Process…’ failure.

This morning, when I powered-up my computer at work, my Windows XP-based computer booted blue, noting a file error which in turn kicked off an automatic chkdsk scan/fix of my hard drive. I got some coffee and used my smart phone to address email while all this was going on.

When the system was done “fixing” the broken files, it rebooted to something I’d never seen before – a blue screen of death with the following ubiquitous message:

Stop: c000021a {Fatal System Error}
The Session manager initialization system process terminated unexpectedly with a status of 0xc000026c (0×00000000 0×00000000).
The system has been shut down.

After a few bouts with the on/off switch, it was clear, I was dead in the water.

I walked down the hall to visit the IT guys, together we brought up the Microsoft Knowledgebase file #317189 entitled “Error Message: Stop c000021a {Fatal System Error} The Session Manager Initialization System Process…

It had fun advice like installing Dr.Watson, running a memory dump and then sifting through the disassembled 0′s and 1′s to figure out what broke. Of course one’s machine would have to boot before that byzantine process was possible – a minor point not considered in said documentation.

There were some other things about registry files, but again, I can’t get to the the C:\> command line prompt then it doesn’t do me much good.

I did find on the Messenger Plus! Live Forums advice to run the Windows repair and replace my psapi.dll file with an older version, but again, that’d require getting onto the hard drive – and the only way I knew how to do that at this juncture would be take a route similar to the one I wrote about in 2003 in my post entitled:’Linux-based approach to fixing MSBlaster Worm infection.’

So after digging through a few drawers and CD stacks, I found a Knoppix CD I had ‘burninated’ back in October for my blogging-tour of Jordan. For those of you who don’t know, Knoppix is a Linux distribution based on Debian GNU/Linux designed to be run directly from a CD / DVD.

So I popped the Knoppix disk into the CD drive, turned on the power switch and within minutes, my machine was back up and running under Windows XP; though part of me wonders if there’s not an Ubuntu install in store for my aging home computer … but I digress …

Anyway, I figured it might be helpful to some of you out there if I provides some detailed step on how I fixed my broken Windows operating system with Linux:

  1. Boot up your computer from the CD drive with your latest CD ‘burnination’ of Knoppix.
    • For me, this meant hitting the F12 key on boot up, and instructing the computer to boot from the CD/DVD drive instead of the hard drive.
    • This step also assumes that at some time in the past, you downloaded, burned and tested a Knoppix CD.
  2. At the initial ‘boot:’ prompt, hit enter.
    • You may find you’ll need to boot Knoppix with various startup options to make it work on you particular hardware platform.
    • Hitting the F3 key will show you some of those options. You can also find “cheat codes” online.
  3. Hopefully at this point you’ll see a “Windows-like” desktop known as KDE – and with luck – the hard drive in question will appear represented by an icon at the upper left as mounted and available for use.
  4. Click on the drive icon that contains your Windows operating system. This will open up (and you Linux fans out there, please forgive me for the term I’m about to use) this will open up an “Explorer like” file window as depicted below:
    Heal Your Church Website: saving Windows w/Knoppix screen 1
    I suggest changing the the display to list the files in ‘detail.’
  5. Sort your directory by date in descending order.
  6. Expand both the found.000 (our found.001..n, etc) and your Windows/System32 directories.
  7. View which files the Windows chkdsk moved into the found.000 path as listed below:
    Heal Your Church Website: saving Windows w/Knoppix screen 1
  8. Check for the same file names in the System32 directory – back them up of need be – then copy the files from the found.000 path into the /Windows/System32 directory; overwriting the existing files by the same name.
    • This is a dangerous move and can entirely mess-up your system -do it at yoru own risk.
    • In my case, I would have made backups, but all of them were of a 0 byte filesize, timestamped this morning at the time of the crash.
    • This is a dangerous move and can entirely mess-up your system -do it at yoru own risk.
    • It never hurts to backup files you’re abut to overwrite.
    • This is a dangerous move and can entirely mess-up your system -do it at yoru own risk.
  9. Shutdown Knoppix correctly (don’t be impatient and just pull the plug:-) – remember to remove the CD from the drive when prompted.
  10. Reboot under Windows.

DISCLAIMER

: Warning – I do not recommend this course of action. I am merely enumerating the steps I took to fix my computer under my circumstances, configuration and context. Your mileage may vary – as potentially you risk losing everything in following the same above steps.

Now if you don’t mind, I have some backups and diagnostics to run. After that, time to go ‘burninate‘ a fresher Knoppix CD; you never know when it’ll come in handy.

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15 Comments

  1. Pingback: 5 things we can learn from the office candy machine » Heal Your Church WebSite

  2. Your a genius dude. This worked.

    Though I might add it will not hurt to run the manufacturer’s diagnostic disk for your hard disk just to make certain the drive is not going to imminently fail.

  3. I think I saw a Youtube with the same error after going to http://www.goggle.com (goggle, like what you put on to swim with one O and two Gs)

  4. hey man, what version of knoppix are you using. because i can not find the “found.000″ anywhere

  5. All I had to do was copy csrss.exe, msgina.dll and winlogon.exe from c:\windows\system32 on a comparable system to my own hard drive and the computer started up fine.

  6. none of this worked.
    i know how to fix this error – just email me to ury18 – ym or post your ym here

  7. That is usually a memory issue, you probably have bad memory (RAM), should run a memory test disk.

    You would need to buy new RAM

  8. there are too many Knoppix version, which one is working with XP? how can I know?

  9. i im a beginner in this computer repair thing.is there someone that cann explain to me in simple terms how to fix this stop error problem

  10. is there someone that can help me fix this problem in a easily understood maner

  11. Just got the same BSD this morning with the same error code. Assuming I can boot using the knoppix cd, will the explorer give me access to my files so I can copy them to an external HD for use under Vista?
    I would then reinstall using a Vista recovery disk.

  12. I’ll have to give this a try. Personally, I’m not sweating it too much, since I purchased and installed a WHS at the house, and it’s been backing up my system for weeks. But this sort of thing never happens to me. So rather than just restore it from the WHS, I’m looking forward to taking the time to learn more about how to fix things like this. Maybe I’ll eventually get my MCDST, or something. So this is pretty good training for something like that, right… would probably be better under Vista or 7, but hey, beggers can’t be choosers! Right?! ;o)

  13. anyone can help me for this problem? Stop: c000021a {Fatal System Error}
    The Session manager initialization system process terminated unexpectedly with a status of 0xc000026c (0×00000000 0×00000000).
    The system has been shut down.

    pls email me in my YM darrylbanua@yahoo.com….. step by step..

  14. When booting up press f8 and load last known good config that worked, this worked for me after trying new memory and everything else suggested. How simple can it be?