[Wine] Photoshop CS2 Crash under Wine, "Unable to continue because of a hardware or system error. Sorry, but this error is unrecoverable."

Chris MacKay cmacaoidh at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 13 18:10:14 CDT 2008

I recently came across a post (circa jan-feb 2008) where a user had encountered a fatal and unrecoverable crash when starting Photoshop for the second or subsequent time. 

I've noticed that this issue has happened to many people, myself included while installing it on someone's system today, and that, while there is a short-term workaround (noted below), nobody has yet posted an actual permanent fix for the problem. I worked one out this afternoon, and thought I'd share it with you all, in order to prevent frustration for anyone out there I can help.

Here is my synopsis, as detailed as I can make it:

Problem: Adobe Photoshop CS2 crashes upon startup with an unrecoverable hardware error. This error occurs on the second and subsequent starts.

Symptoms: After loading plugins, tools, brushes, etc., the program halts with the error message "Unable to continue because of a hardware or system error. Sorry, but this error is unrecoverable." Clicking OK results in hard crash.

Affected systems: Windows (any), and in Linux or Mac while running under Wine or Crossover Office. Who cares about Windows, let's discuss Wine and Crossover under Linux.

Diagnosis: This problem is related to a settings file that is created and modified each time Photoshop runs and exits.

Quick Fix: You can force Photoshop CS2 to start by holding down CTRL+ALT+SHIFT while starting the application in Windows or Linux, or Command+Option+Shift in Mac OSX. You will be presented  with a dialog box that asks if you wish to delete the settings file. Selecting Yes will delete the file, and allow the application to start as normal.

PERMANENT FIX: The permanent fix is actually very simple. The problematic file is the General Settings file, "Adobe Photoshop CS2 Prefs.psp", which references the default fonts Adobe expects to be installed. If for any reason these fonts, or any other files, are not installed or not functioning as expected, the application will terminate to the desktop.  This settings file is located here:

In Wine:

/home/[USER PROFILE]/.wine/drive_c/windows/profiles/[USER PROFILE]/Application Data/Adobe/Photoshop/9.0/Adobe Photoshop CS2 Settings/Adobe Photoshop CS2 Prefs.psp

In Crossover Office:

/home/[USER PROFILE]/.cxoffice/[CS2 INSTALLATION BOTTLE NAME]/drive_c/windows/profiles/crossover/Application Data/Adobe/Photoshop/9.0/Adobe Photoshop CS2 Settings/Adobe Photoshop CS2 Prefs.psp

Naturally, replace [USER PROFILE] with the user name you are working under, and replace the CS2 INSTALLATION BOTTLE NAME with whatever you named the bottle you installed Photoshop CS2 under in Crossover.

Now, if you've encountered this error, you've already run CS2 twice, and the settings file has already been created and corrupted. Although deleting it will allow you to start CS2, it will again store a corrupted file when you exit the application, and next time you start the application, you'll repeat the same fatal error as usual.

So, having located this file, perform the following steps:

(1) Rename or delete the corrupted file
(2) Start CS2. It should start just fine. 
(3) IMMEDIATELY after it has started, change the permissions on the newly re-created settings file (Adobe Photoshop CS2 Prefs.psp) to READ ONLY. You can do this in your file browser, or, if you are at the command line, use the following command:

chmod -w ./Adobe\ Photoshop\ CS2\ Prefs.psp

(4) Rejoice. Your work here is done.

Now, whenever CS2 exits, it will no longer overwrite the fresh, working settings file, and you will always be able to start it without the annoying error and subsequent crash.

Chris McKay
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