Well, just spend a while with erratic results setting up my disk. I finally got it working smoothly and just want to put up a note with what tripped me up.

My setup:

Pri-1 - Windows
Pri-2 - Reserved
Pri-3 - Windows experimental
Pri-4 - extended partition
Log 1 - Grub - used to boot everything, - live gparted here also
Log 2 - Linux
Log 3-5 - Reserved linux
Log 6 - Shared data for all
Log 7+ bootable backup copies, XP & Linux

The bootable backup copies for windows gave me the most trouble. The well documented things to do when making a backup windows copy are to clean the registry of mount keys and edit the boot.ini file.

Well the numbering of partitions in the boot.ini file is what really messed me up. The numbering is sequential, counting only existing partitions. This means the first logical partion is 4, not 5 as I was trying!

So, the numbering scheme for partitions is:

Device, Grub number, XP partition number
/dev/sda1, (hd0, 0), 1
/dev/sda2, (hd0, 1), 2
/dev/sda3, (hd0, 2), 3
<extended partition table here>
/dev/sda5, (hd0, 4), 4
/dev/sda6, (hd0, 5), 5
/dev/sda7, (hd0, 6), 6

Failure to number them right results in weird behavior when copying several windows backup partitions. I was convinced for a while that only the 'last' windows partition (I was using sda numbering) would not work until I carefully considered an off by 1 problem.

Hopes this helps someone!