In my very first post, I sure have a doozy of a problem!

Error message:

Windows could not start because the following file is missing or corrupt:
<Windows root>\system32\ntoskrnl.exe.
Please reinstall a copy of the above file.

Windows XP will not boot/load on my old Inspiron 1100 laptop.

Additionally, I have the Dell/Windows XP Home Edition SP1 reinstall CD, but my cd drive is currently broken/unable to read discs, so I can't get the file reloaded that way.

My Troubleshooting steps:

Dell Support Journal # 091656CTHK

Since my CD drive is broken, I can't reload this missing/corrupt ntoskrnl.exe file using Windows Recover.  I can access the cd (labeled as Dell P/N 5W623 copyright 2002) on a different computer, and have found the file that I want to get.  This website ( gives instructions to "expand d:\i386\ntoskrnl.ex_ c:\windows\system32", but I obviously can't do that on this other operable computer.

I also can get to the diagnostic tests on the broken computer, but nothing appears problematic there.  Trying to load Safe Mode fails though, as do the other Safe Mode choices (such as last known stable configuration).

After finding that file (that I want to expand) on the cd, I copied it to a blank USB thumb drive, and attempted to boot the broken computer from that "floppy drive".  But nothing happens, and that same error returns.

So, my true question is this: can I use a USB memory stick to copy the necessary files from the reinstall cd, and then boot the computer from the USB, and reinstall those bad files?  I know the broken CD drive is really hindering recovery using the cd, so USB is my only other option at the moment.  Related to that, can I put the entire cd contents on the USB drive, and do it that way?  Are there certain files that I need to copy, or just try copying the whole cd to the USB drive?  Does the "boot menu" recognize USB devices as "floppy drives"?  No other choices make sense, so that is what I picked.  Alternatively, should I try to find an external CD drive and hope it'll read the cd that way?

Any help is very much appreciated, and I hope to solve this problem soon.  Thanks.