Hello Muli and all,

1. What have I done to deserve this?

Tried to solve the problem with one hand tied behind your back? (the
"no recompiling the kernel" rule). 
My problem was not being able to compile a small directory with drivers, and my case only proves that only playing with the kernel configuration toys can get you into a mess.

I clearly remember asking during a Haifux lecture, how I get back to the original configuration, and noone was really sure. I don't think that there is someone here who can tell me exactly what files are tampered with during all the makes (could syscalltrack be handy here? ;). All this makes kernel compilation a mysterious adventure, with no promised way back home. If there was as little as a list of directories to back up before starting, it would all look different.

Don't take me wrong: I think that the possibility to compile the kernel is one of the beauties of Linux, and writing in kernel space is something I know I'll do sooner or later. The problem is that it's such an unfriendly field, and for no real reason.
c. Run 'make oldconfig; make dep'. This step prepares the intermediary
kernel configuration and build files that are needed for the build
process. Amongst other things, it handles module version. 
Thanks. "make oldconfig" was the secret. And a secret it is. Just for the fun of it, does anyone know exactly what it does? What "old configuration" are we talking about? And "make dep" afterward fixed it all.

And you were right about the /boot directory. There are config-files for each binary to boot, so it seems like the way to just recompile a certain prebuilt binary is to copy one of these into /usr/src/linux-x.x.xx/.config . This might be the answer to my original question: How do I turn things back to where they were? But I haven't really tried this, though. I might soon.

BTW, I didn't compile the kernel in the end. There was no reason to.
d. Pray. 
"O Almighty Makefile, whose ways are unknown to man, have mercy upon me and give my computer peace, prosperity and harmony. And bootability"
 Start with the top level
Makefile and Rules.make, and follow what happens when you run 'make
oldconfig; make dep'. 
Yeah, right. I wanted to install a linmodem driver, not explore the mysteries of makefile, sed and bash, and virtually every possible system file.

I have only one explanation for all this: Kernel hackers enjoy the exclusiveness of their status. It's Open Source, but closed society. You want to join it, fine, but you'll have to go through some acceptance tests before you can do anything.


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