Thanks again podmaster.
Well, to be honest, I don't really understand LWP::Debug, although thanks to your post this is now on my list of things to learn. What I copied in my last post was straight out of the dos window, without skipping anything.
Also, I don't think it's a proxy issue; my location is germany.
But, I solved this issue without lwp debug. This was possible because, like I originally thought, the problem has to do with dependencies not installing "automagically" like I would exect with ppm.
I determined the following dependencies chain, basically by reading the ppd definitions in the various ppd urls:
This last "INSTALL EXEC" thing basically walks the user through copying a dll file into somewhere accessible by PATH. It appears to be this step which gums up the works.
When I did ppm install http://theoryx5.uwinnipeg.ca/ppms/XML-SAX.ppd, including copying the dll, then ppm install http://theoryx5.uwinnipeg.ca/ppms/XML-SAX-ExpatXS.ppd, then finally ppm install http://theoryx5.uwinnipeg.ca/ppms/PAR-WebStart.ppd, I was finally able to install PAR-WebStart okay.
I then deleted the dll and uninstalled all three modules with ppm uninstall module, and reinstalled, to see if I could recreate the problem. It turns out that
ppm install http://theoryx5.uwinnipeg.ca/ppms/PAR-WebStart.ppd
gives the same unhelpful error as before, but
ppm install http://theoryx5.uwinnipeg.ca/ppms/XML-SAX-ExpatXS.ppd
installs its depdendency, the dll, and itself, with no problem. On the initial install, I *think* ppm install XML-SAX-ExpatXS failed out with the same mysterious error as PAR-WebStart, but I can't recreate this. Could it be the dll got registered somehow even though I deleted it? I wish I had a fresh computer to try this out on. Well, maybe my memory is playing tricks on me.
In any case, I have succeeded in recreating that PAR-WebStart has trouble initiating the automatic installation of its XML-SAX-ExpatXS dependency.
I hope this is helpful to monks that have experienced the same PPM hell problems that I have. If someone knowledgable in ppm has any further light to shed on this, or workarounds, or ways to make something that should be easy, really easy, that would be great.
PodMaster, again I totally appreciate the handholding. Even though it appears this wasn't a dns thing, your feedback kept me going on something that has been annoying me for months.
I guess I finally will drop randy kobes a line about this as well.