|This netbook doesn't have a built-in cd/dvd drive (I seem to recall that's one item missing on most/all of these systems)?|
Did you get an means of restoring the installation to factory-gate/delivery state? Typically the methods offered that way mean all data is lost in the process...; not an ideal path?
If no recovery method provided (bearing in mind what it will lose for you...) and if you have an external cd/dvd drive (usb connection), and the netbook will boot from a usb source... then if you can secure an XP disk... you could run a repair installation... (an overwrite of the installation as is). This approach does NOT use the Recovery Console; the repair option is further into the setup sequence... You will need a full version XP disk...; which perhaps borrow if not to hand? However likely your original installation is an OEM version; which means you will probably need an OEM full version disk, rather than a standard retail full version. (Although I think there is workaround/fudge to allow a retail version to work repairing an OEM installation; but can't recall it just now.)
Need more detailed info on how to run a repair installation (which does not use Recovery Console) - post back. The repair installation approach will (all being well...) preserve data/"stuff" you wish to preserve - in-situ..; which is why it's often the preferred repair approach. But if possible save "stuff" first as suggested below; then proceed with repairs?
Similarly.. if you have "stuff" on the netbook you'd like to recover/save... then again with an external cd/dvd drive you could boot with a Linux disk and access/save date ("stuff") to external media... Obviously you'll need to have a second usb based destination...?