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xp dies at mup.sys repair option not available from cd

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My main development box died during a storm. I guess it is time to replace the surge protector.
When booting, it reported the 'file missing or corrupt \windows\system\config' error.
I followed the steps on the Microsoft website to copy a set of registry files from the restore directory.
Now, it tries to boot; I can f8 and get the usual startup options. However, no matter what I try, it gets to mup.sys and reboots. No noticeable hang or delay, just resets.
I have tried to do a repair install from the XP cd. Windows recognizes the disk and partition, but apparently does not see the system as it does not offer the repair option; just delete the partition, reformat the partition, etc.
I have installed to another disk and can boot from it fine. Everything works, which makes me think the hardware is alright.
When I boot from the secondary drive, windows explorer can see all of the files on the primary. Ditto accessing from usb adapter on a WinVII laptop.
I really don't want to have to do a complete install and spend the next 6 months getting my configuration back to the way I like it.
I am open to suggestions. I have already tried tearing hair and rending garment. Neither technique helped.
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