Well, holy crap. I installed hubzilla. It only took me a very long time and I still don't know what was going on with the database but the instance seems to work, so?
Proof that someone who knows nothing about servers and backend and LAMP-stacks and crap can do the thing. I'll admit that I'm not a complete layman, but I'm pretty far down the food chain compared to some of the very clever people around here.
I installed so I'd have a sandbox to build themes in. I still don't know how to do that. I expect I'll play with the admin side of the hub for, oh, ages, before I do anything proper with it. I"m not cloning this account over there yet, I may or may not ever shift over completely any time soon (though I'll admit my own personal domain as my hubzilla acc appeals) because I'm still expecting the entire thing to explode. Likewise I won't be opening it up for registrations any time in the forseeable future.
THE ADVENTURE BEGINS