I tried to summarize my opinion.
If you find any misunderstandings of me, please correct them.

*** What's happen if there's no /boot/device.hints?

<case A> kernel has no built-in hints

... some devices would not work, system would stall!

        You can tell whole hints to the kernel interactively on /boot/loader,
        however it's a tiresome task.

        YES, this is the abominable situation.
        To avoid it, you should be warned at kernel-install-time.

<case B> kernel has built-in hints (i.e. config has "hints" line)

B-1: wrong hints

... some devices would not work, system could stall.

        You can correct hints interactively on /boot/loader.
        You can override hints by making /boot/device.hints also.

B-2: suitable hints

... everything goes OK

        You can override hints by /boot/device.hints.

Currently, 'make install' will be aborted in every case above,
but this treatment is suitable only for case A.

And it would be technically possible to limit this treatment to case A.
This treatment will do accoring to Makefile,
which is controled by config(8) (src/usr.sbin/config/mkmakefile.c).

Motomichi Matsuzaki <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> 
Dept. of Biological Sciences, Grad. School of Science, Univ. of Tokyo, Japan 

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