I flushed an optimized, tweaked and completely functional redhat 9.0 installation down the toilet
I sorry to hear (read) that, but Red Hat 9 is very, very old.
I am sorry you are going through dependency hell. Every novice Linux user will get to this point. A lot of FreeBSD owner will be laughing at this time. The only way to experience Linux is compile everything. Compiling everything and hoping that it works fine at the end takes too long. You need a utility to organize the steps and configure every program. I recommend Gentoo because it does just that and more. People argue when I recommend Gentoo instead of other Linux distributions. Gentoo installation is tedious, but easy. Any idiot that can follow directions can install Gentoo. I strongly recommend Gentoo to minimize dependency hell. Every program is access by one place, Portage. Portage provides several thousand or millions of programs to install. Yum, urpmi, yest depends on your setup to access servers and their list of programs, so your are on your own when one of the chains breaks. Portage is different because it can search many mirrors that may have the file. With Portage, you have the ability to search and to know what the description of programs with out ever hooking up to the internet because Gentoo provides a copy of ebuilds from the sync server.