I've tried using the vanilla kernel source (188.8.131.52) and the Debian kernel source (2.6.29). I copied the config from my working kernel (2.6.26-2-amd64) and ALL I changed was processor type, preemption model, timer frequency, and removed some unneeded network and soundcard modules. Here is the exact command I used to compile it:
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time fakeroot make-kpkg --append-to-version "-dbb" --revision "20090610" --initrd kernel_image kernel_headers
When I tried to boot my kernel, it panicked, printing a message about being unable to mount the root filesystem. I noticed that in /boot my working kernel has an intrd file, which is also the kernel in its grub entry, but my custom kernel does not- even though I used --initrd.
What could be the problem?