You're too much. Johnny on the spot. But actually, I had checked zlib when I first hit that snag and it's already installed. Maybe just not in the path? lemme check real quick...
[root@dwnld]$ which zlib
which: no zlib in (/sbin:/usr/sbin:/bin:/usr/bin:/usr/X11R6/bin:/usr/local/bin:/usr/local/sbin)
So a locate zlib turns up a bunch, but no .so files. Maybe one of these?
The rest are all part of packages (python, etc.). So what's the difference between zlib and zlibc? If zlib's already installed, why not in /usr/lib or /usr/local/lib? So what am I looking for to symlink to?
You say I shouldn't compile it myself, but why not (*besides* the fact that I don't know what I'm doing: if I let that stop me I'd still be using windows!). I actually usually use rpm's for small things like libraries and, say, gkrellm, but I can't imagine using it for php or mplayer or something larger, where I want some more control. Does this seem like a good (if fuzzy) rule?