Getting fatal error LNK1181: cannot open input file 'kernel32.lib'

Getting fatal error LNK1181: cannot open input file 'kernel32.lib'

  • Comments 15

I was a happy man until a few hours back when I was playing with some C, C++ programs built using Visual Studio 2008 on my work and home machines. I could write some program on my workstation, copy the solution to my personal laptop at home and thereby continue from where I left in office. Things  were good until I installed the latest Windows SDK v6.1 on my Vista laptop while trying my hands on Windows PowerShell.

I realized a day or so later after installing SDK v6.1 that now I could not build my application written in C or C++. I could compile it but not link it during build process from within Visual Studio. Funny though I realized I could not even build a very basic Win32 console application.

I started getting the following error:

fatal error LNK1181: cannot open input file 'kernel32.lib' 

I did something while troubleshooting it and now also started seeing:

Error spawning 'rc.exe'. Project myProject

I did check on the Internet and found all sorts of reasoning around this. One thing looked clear that installing the latest SDK v6.1 had caused me all these headaches. Some links suggested rebooting the server, some talked about  low system  memory, some said remove the latest SDK v6.1, and some also suggested to reinstall Visual Studio. But somehow I felt this can be fixed without reinstallation of VS2008 or un-installation of SDK v6.1 or etc etc and etc.

I opened the cool Process Monitor tool and found the following:

28836    11:51:31.5538847    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\lib\kernel32.lib    NAME NOT FOUND    
28837    11:51:31.5539987    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\lib\kernel32.lib    NAME NOT FOUND    
28839    11:51:31.5542065    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\atlmfc\lib\kernel32.lib    NAME NOT FOUND    
28841    11:51:31.5543630    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\atlmfc\lib\kernel32.lib    NAME NOT FOUND    
28842    11:51:31.5544705    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\atlmfc\lib\i386\kernel32.lib    PATH NOT FOUND    
28844    11:51:31.5545935    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\VC\atlmfc\lib\i386\kernel32.lib    PATH NOT FOUND    
28846    11:51:31.5547253    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    D:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.1\lib\kernel32.lib    PATH NOT FOUND    
28847    11:51:31.5548633    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    D:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.1\lib\kernel32.lib    PATH NOT FOUND    
28848    11:51:31.5550927    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    D:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.1\lib\kernel32.lib    PATH NOT FOUND    
28849    11:51:31.5552863    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    D:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.1\lib\kernel32.lib    PATH NOT FOUND    
28850    11:51:31.5556190    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\kernel32.lib    NAME NOT FOUND    
28851    11:51:31.5559045    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\kernel32.lib    NAME NOT FOUND    
28852    11:51:31.5561361    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\lib\kernel32.lib    PATH NOT FOUND    
28853    11:51:31.5563280    devenv.exe    5528    QueryOpen    E:\Program Files\Microsoft Visual Studio 9.0\lib\kernel32.lib    PATH NOT FOUND    

It was crystal clear that while trying to link Visual Studio was encountering a file not found kind of error and hence could be the resulting failure.

------ Build started: Project: aa, Configuration: Debug Win32 ------
Linking...
LINK : fatal error LNK1104: cannot open file 'kernel32.lib'
Build log was saved at "file://xxxxxxxxxxx\Visual Studio 2008\Projects\myProject\myProject\Debug\BuildLog.htm"
myProject - 1 error(s), 0 warning(s)
========== Build: 0 succeeded, 1 failed, 0 up-to-date, 0 skipped ==========

Similarly rc.exe showed NOT FOUND.

It looked simple yet intriguing as to why the default path was changed for Visual Studio.

I realized that the path it was trying to look at for these files did not even exist, lest I could just have copied these files to the corresponding location.

Looked at the Environment variables from Visual Studio 2008 command prompt and found that WindowsSdkDir environment variable was pointing to D:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.1\ which did not exist.

Tried changing this to the path where I did find the above files on my box which was pointing to C:\program files\microsoft sdks\windows\v6.0A\ (So yes it pretty much looked like after installing SDK v6.1 my environment variable WindowsSdkDir had changed). Tried logging off/rebooting, no luck.

Finally figured out that in order to get things back to normal I had to update the following registry key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MicrosoftSDKs\Windows\CurrentInstallFolder

I changed this value to point to the original location which was C:\Program Files\Microsoft SDKs\Windows\v6.0A\ in my case.

I wasted a lot of time on this, so thought of sharing with a wider audience.

bye!

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  • Thanks! Don't forget to restart VS 2008 if you have it open. Saved me a lot of time.

  • I got this after installing SP1 for VS2008.

    And ... I don't have the HKEY_CURRENT_USER\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\MicrosoftSDKs key in my registry :(

    But my symptoms are just like yours.  Any ideas?

    Thanks!

  • Daniel, I would suggest running the Process Monitor tool and see where VS is looking for the missing files. This path must be  getting governed by some Env variable or Registry key. That is what I can suggest for now.

  • Thanks.

    I installed Windows SDK for Windows Server 2008 ... and that corrected it.

    Thanks for your great post!

  • Thanks very much for the trouble of typing out the problem...i am about to correct my problem too...great post ^^

  • Hi, thanks for the post.

    I had a weirder cause for the same problem.

    > I was trying to use nmake and build things command line.

    > I defined a macro with the name "lib" which was overwriting the pre-defined nmake macro for "lib".

    procmon helped me out to realize that the problem is with my re-defining a pre-defined macro.

    btw, i'm with IDC, Hyd.

    thanks.

    Chax

  • Thank you for your time! I had the same problem and I resolve it in 5 minutes.

  • Thank you so much,

    Great post, saves a lot of time.

    this happened for me when I installed WSDK v7.0

  • sorry i didnt understand how to solve it by command prompt & i didnt find that path in registry...would u explain me more??pleaaase...

  • Thanks guys, installed MicrosoftSDK and it worked ...

  • Thanks.

    BTW, it's HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE, not HKEY_CURRENT_USER.

  • Thank you very much. Installed MS SDK for windows 7 and it solved my issue.. www.microsoft.com/.../details.aspx

  • THANK YOU!  I spent all day trying to figure this out!  That was an utterly obnoxious error.

    I thought my install was corrupt or maybe I messed up my settings when I was playing with Allegro and Ogre.

    I tried reinstalling (takes forever) and updating the libraries... and still it wasnt fixed...

    This worked flawlessly.

    Now I can finally sleep  o___o  Thank you.

    "LINK : fatal error LNK1104: cannot open file 'kernel32.lib'"

    So this gets more hits, because others like me with this error will probably

    do the same thing I did  XD  Copy paste it into google and look around frantically.

  • Muito obrigado, tive o mesmo problema e foi resolvido facilmente graças a sua ajuda.

    Obrigado

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