2020-08-23 After a huge effort, I've got Hubzilla working from home. Not everything works properly yet, and I will have to try to iron out the bugs. I spent the largest amount of time trying to set up msmtp; because otherwise it was impossible to send an email verification and create a channel. But nothing budged. Eventually I saw that in the configuration files it is possible to disable email verification.
As a result of the account registration mix up, I ended up creating a first account that was not my admin account.
UPDATE: I now see from the help files that this can be updated manually by going into the database; it's the only way to correct that problem. Not having an admin user is probably the cause of several other problems that I may be able to fix once I am the administrator.