So, I finally got my test server up and running. I have no idea what the original problem was but I solved it via a metaphorical hammer. Now, everything is running smoothly so now it's time to uninstall and begin to automate the process even more. Hopefully this will continue to make elise happy!
I'm still waiting to hear about my RPM Ant task. I'm using it daily and it definitely makes the xml file cleaner. Oh well, at least I have it though I still can release in our releng code. Hmm.. maybe I'll just do that.