Ok, so the debian install went simply. I used debian 9 (Stretch), without a GUI. 'ip addr' gives 192.168.1.101, which sounds right, as that's my lan, 192.168.1.X.
I was able to add the DB admin user where the prompt comes up: Now do I need to reset/config mysql's root user and password also?
Ok. Are you able to ping that ip address from your desktop? That should indicate if you should expect to be able to connect to the web server as well.
I have the VM network set to bridged, networking is my downfall, and the other thing I suspect is that I need to open the firewall for the webserver.
Bridged sounds fine. quick question: Is the "eth0" (or enpXs0 with X a number) network on the VM's host part of the bridge? If not, you probably need to enable IP forwarding. Before we go that route, lets start by checking you can 'ping' the address though. (And: can you ping the host that the VM is running on?)