:) Well, after being given access to a dual-PIII monster for a night, and after an all-nighter, I did in fact get KDE3 working (See, the centered panel??? Ha! Proof!). Now, you may ask, who the hell cares? Well, it's on debian, and deb packages aren't out yet. It wasn't terribly bad, but here's a few tips for all of those who really have no patience and NEED KDE3 on Debian with the least amount of very, very time-consuming compiling:
0: Unstable. God save you if you're doing without unstable.
1: Build your own QT. libqt3 in the unstable sources is crap. Before there was an ugly libpng problem you guys may remember, half of the KDE progs in the debian tree was build against the old libpng while they were built against the new qt which built against the new libpng. Anyway, they won't work, and qt is the only thing you'll have to compile.
You can't use the QT in the KDE trees either. For some mystical reason jpg's don't work. No background, no previews. Konqueror and some others will work, because they use libjpeg directly. So build it, and put it in /opt/qt3 or something in opt. Debian usually leaves opt alone, so once all is good with kde3 in debian you can scratch it easily.
Oh, all the libaries qt needs can be apt-getted. Unstable is new enough.
2: Get the Slackware binaries. They're tgz's, happy happy. Untar them somewhere, and move the kde3 folder to opt. You can ditch the rest.
3: Suse rpm's unpack where I just told you to put kde3. If anything in there gives you hell, try tossing Suse's version.
4: All that's left is adding /opt/kde3/lib and /opt/qt3 to /etc/ld.so.conf. But, you'll have more library problems than you can poke a stick at. There's a lot but luckily everything in Debian's trees will work with just symlinking them to what kde3 is looking for. Link them in /opt/kde3/lib, makes things easier for when you get rid of this. Here's the important ones:
SSL: KDE3 wants libssl.so.1
Applets: Anything you find in /opt/kde3/lib or /opt/kde3/lib/kde3 that ends in .so.1.0.0 will have to be .so.1
5: That's all I can think of. Make sure your $PATH is set with the new stuff. Put all the new libaries, qt and kde3's, before the others in /etc/ld.so.conf. A good idea might be to run "XFree86&" as root, then "xterm -display :0" in the console, then starting starkde from a terminal. Keep the errors in a file, go through it (it's only 300 lines or so), and move any stuff around you need to.
Hope this helps any Deb's out there that have been aching for kde3...