Here's what I was working with:
Ref Platform VM (CentOS-5.0)
Ref Platform set up instructions
Install scripts that are supposed to help make it all much easier
So the day looked a little like this:
* Wrestling with Python for about 2 hours - after much trial and error with the python path I ended up deleting my messed up ref platform vm, and starting up a clean one. The install scripts caused a clean VM with a python version of 2.5.1 to become a busted, can't finish make, 2.4.3 version. What?!
* Scrap the scripts, instead follow the instructions as above from the wiki. This brought up a couple of issues. First of all, all the versions on the wiki are a lot older than the ones in the install scripts. With a clean VM you first have to set a symbolic link to gcc-4.1.1 otherwise compiling zope-interface will not work:
ln -s /tools/gcc-4.1.1 /tools/gcc
Now the steps for installing zope-interface work fine. However there is an issue where every time a symbolic link is created, a symbolic link is then also created inside of the symbolic link as a link back to the original item. This is extremely confusing - I just deleted the broken links without looking too deeply into why that was happening. It happened with zope-interface and the twisted/twistedcore.
There are also a few spelling errors in the wiki for the PATH settings, I'll go in an change those soon.
Now that I am trying to write down what happened, all the glitches seem minor. I swear there was a lot of "Why is this happening?" and studying PATH, PYTHONPATH and PYTHONHOME to see if they were configured properly.
Probably the next step is to study those scripts and see how they can be more easily run on the VM anytime, anywhere because right now - they are hit and miss.