This appears to be a PHP/configuration problem since I also could not get b2evolution installed, with similar symptoms. config file not getting written by the install tool, blank page being presented when hand edited with no further action or database configuration.
Points to WordPress for at least generating a couple error messages in the process though, unlike b2.
I'm still hoping someone can help, before I move on to a Perl based tool. The ones I looked at aren't as 'pretty' or have as many features ready out of the box. But my needs in this instance are simple, and I have a higher expectation of that working (given that we have lots of other Perl code running succesfully), and could at least debug problems quickly myself if it doesn't.
Does PHP have an equivilent to Perl's use warnings/strict/taint/diagnostics to improve code discipline and help me debug this?