thanks homey. that was how i tried it the first time when it failed.
one additional and probably quite relevant point is that i was
restoring to a new drive, one that was smaller than the original.
the original was a 120gb with 5gb wxp, 5gb programs, 4gb swap, and
the rest for data. the new drive was an 80gb. obviously i was able
to match the wxp, programs, and swap partitions, but the data
partition would be different. don't know how this affects things
but i tend to think it would in a big way. what i'd like is to be
able to repartition the new drive with matching partitions where
relevant, and to let the rest (the data) go undefined so i could
deal with it later. this would preclude restoring all partitions
at once. i'm hoping that if i can find out how xp creates and
uses the hidden partition, i can match it, thus allowing a selective
restore of partitions (wxp, programs, and deal with data later).
another point is that the hidden partition really seems to be hidden.
i'm not sure backing up the structure with dd really handled it.