WordPress is nice, but setting up a local instance in a nonstandard environment is more trouble than it's worth. WordPress was designed for shared-hosting environments that have a classic "LAMP" application stack preconfigured (Linux+Apache+MySQL+PHP). It was specifically not designed to run on a wide variety of server environments.
Fortunately, for the kind of work I want to do (blog template design) there are acceptable workarounds. But this latest encounter with the MySQL and PHP ecosystems has left me, once again, sorely tempted to just build my own blogging system.
Read on if you want to geek out on some of the details. If you just want the conclusion, it is: use a standard virtual machine (VM) or set up a sandbox blog in a shared environment. Either one of those will work well enough, and the VM approach is probably the closest you'll get to a "safe" install. Unless you're being paid for the setup time, I strongly advise against trying to make it work locally in anything but a stock configuration.