I looked at the similar posts, and eliminated the problems specified there. I am familiar with both PHP and MySQL, so I know how to manually check for user and db info. When I run wp-admin/install-config.php, it goes through the process of getting the settings I want, and then at step 2 (wp-admin/install-config.php?step=2), it gives me the famous error screen:
"We're having a little trouble selecting the proper database for WordPress.
Are you sure it exists?
Your database name is currently specified as wordpress. Is this correct?
On some systems the name of your database is prefixed with your username, so it would be like username_wordpress. Could that be the problem?"
Editing the wp-config.php file manually doesn't seem to help. When I load wp-admin/install.php, it tells me "There doesn't seem to be a wp-config.php file. You must create one before moving on." A neat little Catch-22.
I can confirm that the user/password are correct. I can confirm that the server name is correct ( I'm testing wordpress on a local box I control ), and both the prefix and the db name ought to be arbitrary. It's like it's skipping the step where the db is created, and won't continue if I provide my own config file. I can check mysql and confirm that no db is created at any point. Even when I give wordpress root access to mysql, nothing happens.
WTF, over? Thanks!