yep, replying to myself, to help others who may run into this problem.
tried upgrading from 4.4.6 to 5.0 & 5.068... no joy. well, some joy: streamium can see 5.X, but as noted elsewhere, if you have a large library & need custom navigation trees, & you use vTuner extensively, 5.X is not for you.
anyway, i tried 4.4.18 and succeeded. i also find what seem to be decreased load times in 4.4.18, but much longer db rebuild times.
fwiw my remote users report noticeably quicker access since moving to 4.4.18
OSX 10.4.11, denon 4308ci, ps3, LaCie 1TB nas, airport network 801.11g