asp.net (VB) mono encrypt of web.config connectionStrings section not working right

I am trying to migrate an ASP.Net (2.0) VB web app from a SLES 11 server to a new SLES 12 server. Unfortunately, mono is no longer supported by Novell / SUSE / NetIQ folk.

This is my first time developing for a mono / mod_mono Apache combination. It has been quite a learning experience. I am not sure if I have everything (mono versions / repos / configs) lined-up properly. A lot has changed since Visual Studio 2008. I am hoping an ex-Novell or other mono expert can help me get things straitened out.

So, after much effort, I have managed to get a somewhat working solution, but I cannot seem to encrypt the web.config. Instead of producing an encrypted web.config connectionStrings section, the protect call eats most of the file, and gives the error page with the following message

System.Xml.XmlException

Root element is missing.
no wonder as the web config is reduced to ...

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

See the rest of the question on Stack Exchange, thanks for any help.
http://unix.stackexchange.com/questions/269017/mod-mono-on-sles-12-1-fails-to-encrypt-asp-net-web-config

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