Okay, so the experiment is over, and the results are in:
It wasn’t possible for me to unleash the real power of WordPress from my rinky-dink dinosaur of a home server. Fun and instructive as a test-bed, but not good for the real world.
So, I found a good, inexpensive online server (solvedbydata.com), and here it is.
Much faster, more responsive, easy to wipe clean and start over, they load your Linux flavor of choice for you, all in blazing fast time.
Now you have a Linux server command line, and complete freedom to use it as you wish.
And plenty of space to use it in.
Welcome jimmiles.org, to the real world.