RunRun DLL Reprise

By Michael Hutchison, Tampa PC Users Group

About three more normal work sessions with my machine after I sent in an article to this publication for December dealing with my problems getting Windows 98 to shut down (and what was hoped was a solution had been arrived at), it froze again. It named the same old suspect, but as time went on RunDLL began to get some company in the Programs not Responding dialog/list box. Among these "norespondents" were:

mprexe.exe and msqsrv32. The first file accepts network requests from the API and sends them to the correct network provider. The second file handles Plug-and-Play messages between various parts of the operating system, coordinates automatic responses to setup programs, plays the system startup and shutdown sounds, runs the shell program. As things now seemed to be on the old computer, these two files were moving up fast on the suspect list, particularly msqsrv32.

But I’m getting ahead of an accurate recap of the situation with respect to chronology. In the parade of events, guesses and angst, I also took a minor excursion through the land of Bootlog.txt and BIOS. This was due to a helpful tip from one of our members, Brian Lance—or was it Jim Weber? I was telling him that as a result of my reading an article or a web page which talked about a file called Bootlog.txt, I suspected that I had a problem with either the mouse driver or an old sound card.

Bootlog.txt resides in the root directory. It is plain old text file so it can be examined with any text editor. Towards the bottom of the file there is a group of lines which should look something like the lines below:

Terminate=Query Drivers
End Terminate=Query Drivers

From Windows Help we have the following:

To pinpoint the problem in the Bootlog.txt file

  1. Use any text editor, such as Notepad, to examine the Bootlog.txt file for Terminate= entries. These entries are located at the end of the file and may provide clues to the cause of the problem.
  2. For each Terminate=entry, find a matching EndTerminate=entry.
    If the last line in the Bootlog.txt file is EndTerminate=KERNEL, Windows 98 shut down successfully.

If the last line in the Bootlog.txt file is one of the following entries, check the listed possible cause:

Last line — Possible cause

Terminate=Query Drivers — Memory manager problem.

Terminate=Unload Network — Conflict with real-mode network driver in the Config.sys file.

Terminate=Reset Display — Video shadowing may need to be disabled. May also need an updated video driver.

Terminate=RIT — Timer-related problems with the sound card or an old mouse driver.

Terminate=Win32 — Problem with a 32-bit program blocking a thread.

After examining this information, I noticed that in the instances when the machine did freeze on shutdown, the computer did not play the new wave file which I had created and then gone into Control Panel and made the new system shutdown sound. At that time I thought that perhaps I had installed something which was periodically asking my old sound card to do things it wasn’t capable of and this was causing errors. I did not give enough consideration to the phrase Timer-related problems with sound card or…in the Possible Cause column after Terminate=RIT.

I did not know what was wrong, and I was ready to try a little trial and error replacement cloaked in upgrades clothing after getting as close to the problem as was possible. This lead to consideration of updating my BIOS to facilitate various minor hardware improvements either just completed or proposed. Some of these additions or upgrades had no bearing on the shutdown issue. Therefore, I was inclined to think a BIOS upgrade was not a bad idea on a couple of levels. However, other club members didn’t feel the BIOS was the culprit in my shutdown woes. So I abandoned this tack. I also tried changing the mouse driver (again grasping at the straws in the wind provided by the Terminate=RIT Timer related…) and managed to effectively KO the hapless little rodent temporarily.

Seeing some of my options in the form of throwing small to medium amounts of money at the problem/s thus thwarted, I turned my attention again to the last part of the Bootlog.txt file. At length (fairly great length), I decided to change the system shutdown sound back to the default Windows sound file. It can not be claimed that there was any great thunderclap of sudden understanding behind this move. Rather, this was one of a short list of things to try just prior to formatting the poor old machine’s hard drive and putting Linux on it to experiment with.

The computer has now performed a shutdown quite a few times in a row and in a reasonably normal fashion. I say quite a few; don’t know how many times exactly, but it’s more than the computer has done in a long time. It was the length of the shutoff sound file in terms of time it took to play which was doing the dirty deed. u