I never saw this particular error with TOmcat, but I have seen my share. I finally got it working this week after several attempts. Here are some pieces of advice I can give you..
1.) You said that you had j2SE1.4.2, make sure you have the full version(~35megs) not the JRE(Java Runtime enviroment). Tomcat needs the Java compiler to do the JSPs.
2.) In my expereince I have found that Tomcat and J2SE have a hard time getting along with each other unless they are both a particular version. I have the combo of J2SE1.4.2 and Tomcat 4.1.24 running now and they work fine together. I would say you get rid of your other versions and try this pair. Here are my failed attempts...
a.) JDK1.2.2 & Tomcat 4.1.24
b.) JDK1.2.2 & Tomcat3.3.1a
and probably more but can't remember.
3.) Make sure you set the environment variables properly.
export JAVA_HOME = dir where J2SE1.4.2 is located
export CATALINA_HOME = dir where Tomcat4.1.24 is located
And also include $JAVA_HOME/bin in your PATH variable
4.) Download Tomcat 4.1.24 from here:
Choose the release build
Download J2SE1.4.2 from here:
follow the links from here for J2SE1.4.2
I am not sure it that will fix your specific situation, but like I said I could not get Tomcat to work on several attempts either in WInXP nor SLack 9.0. But now after several posts on this topic and research I have it up and running. Start from scratch, get rid of your old versions, install the new versions and don't forget to adjust your profile so that it references the new software. Good Luck and let us know how you are doing with it :cool