I eventually got it to run after messing with rpi-update
But I was told that being ancient was bad, and that I might have problems.
The only problem I had was my network would suddenly freeze for 30 seconds or so and then carry on as if nothing had happened. The connections are not dropped, it's just as though it's stopping for a rest.
So I assumed that the sage advice I'd been given about being ancient was probably true.
Consequently I procured a new sdcard and 2018-03-13-raspbian-stretch
Two days later after spending an eternity setting up this and fiddling with that, I finally got it all working just as I like it, only the stopping for a rest is still happening. I tried both my sdcards in my original pi3 and the problem isn't there, but it is there on the pi3b+ and it's very annoying.
What makes me think it is network related is that I use rdesktop on the pi to drive a computer with a noisy fan in another part of the house, and when this stopping for a rest happens, I still have a responsive mouse and keyboard and can type into lxterminal and the like and get results, even while my remote desktop is seemingly frozen.
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[email protected]:~ $ cat /proc/net/dev Inter-| Receive | Transmit face |bytes packets errs drop fifo frame compressed multicast|bytes packets errs drop fifo colls carrier compressed lo: 8044 53 0 0 0 0 0 0 8044 53 0 0 0 0 0 0 wlan0: 33711235 30001 0 2 0 0 0 3191 1839879 17626 0 0 0 0 0 0 eth0: 570075437 583683 0 3 0 0 0 0 71256366 319224 0 0 0 0 0 0 [email protected]:~ $