Dear readers, Vectorites, and mods:
This issue has gotten down to being either a Vector specific issue, or an "alien" program issue. I'm not sure which. But I figured VL should know so it can be examined in greater detail.
I posted the original problem in another post (search for Oracle if you're interested, I don't think the original post will shed light on this).
I was trying to install Oracle 10g XE on my VL6 machine. It repeatedly failed in the configuration stage, hanging when it gave a message "Starting Oracle Net Listener . . .". It never got past that. I ran the same process on an Ubuntu 9.04 machine, and it worked. The net listener started in about 15 seconds (I gave that process 10s of minutes, waiting . . . waiting . . . you get the idea).
I fixed a few other issues, checked dependencies, reinstalled, shut down the firewall (jic that was the issue) -- in other words, did pretty much everything I could find to open the installation environment up so it could work. Which it still didn't. Since it finally got down to this one issue, which repeats itself for me, I reposted with the conclusion I opened with. There must be either something going on specific to Vector, or alien has somehow not correctly interpreted some script. Actually, thinking about it now - that could be entirely possible, since the configure could be failing because it is expecting a certain shell. Idk. If you want to replicate the issue, just download the latest XE from Oracle and try to install it. I started with the i386.deb version, converted to tgz, and went from there.
Ultimate impact, to me, is just that I'll have to use Ubuntu as my server, instead of VL. VL6 is a very polished install, and VL has done a great job with their installer for years now. Thanks for a great product. If I ever get out of debt, I'll contribute. Meanwhile, back to the grindstone.