It seems that it has to be all in one partition.
I am clearly doing something incorrectly, at least from the perspective of the author(s) of the installer software.
I had trouble a week ago, or so, and as a result, downloaded a new copy, this time making sure that it was the "install" version.
First time, there was a crash, don't know more than that.
Next day, yesterday, I again obtained ye olde blanke screene. Not reassuring.
Thinking the problem then was most likely due to too much beverage consumed on the holiday, and insufficient eye on the monitor, this morning I tried again, this time, attempting to focus on the install.
First part worked ok. Started the install, ok....Reached the section asking me for my user name, and an error message was produced, indicating that this particular user name had already been taken, (deja vu) and was therefore unavailable to use.
So, I changed the name, and got the same error. Third time's the charm, right? Nope. Third time, with third different name, it just proclaimed: "unexpected error and must abort." whereupon, I was looking at a blank screen, without user options.
open to suggestions.....
details: I simply hit carriage return at boot up; partition, single partition, for root, and everything else, except swap on its own primary partition.
computer: 586 P3 @1GHz, with half a gigabyte of RAM, video card S3 Savage 4.