As I remarked to Uri about my LD_LIBRARY_PATH problem, the real solution is that Oracle.so needs to get built properly. Today I discovered how to do that (shortly after remarking to Uri, in fact
The good news is I don't have to do any re-execing. As I got this working I feared that I would still have a mess because the environment on this box naturally sets LD_LIBRARY_PATH to what I do not want it to be (and in case you are unaware, YOU SHOULD NOT DO THAT! ) and I thought that would override it even if the correct library directory was compiled into Oracle.so. But it doesn't seem to. ldd finds the right library in the right directory, and a simple DBI script now works perfectly with no monkeying around with that awful variable.
So, here are the steps: