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Manually changing IRQ/reconfiguring network?

I have Debian 3.0 installed on an HP Pavillion N5425 laptop, and after
considerable modifications it is (mostly) working.

Often, however, it seems that I "fix one thing, break two others".

I have two current problems, one of which is probably in the documentation
somewhere but I just can't find it, the other is a bit more esoteric:

1) Reconfiguring network: I have somehow managed to break the network
configuration, so that I no longer seem to be able to get an IP address. The
card is there, the card is up, but dhclient eth0 doesn't get me any error
messages. I am not sure how to troubleshoot this problem, and also not sure
what caused it. I expect it was something to do with my recompiling the
kernel; however, when I booted the previous kernel (where the networking
used to work fine), the same symptoms persist. 

Question: what is the best way to reconfigure the network from scratch
(i.e., wipe out the current installation and start again)?? I would much
rather do it using the installation scripts where available, instead of
manually tweaking configuration files. I looked through the various
documentation, but all I could find was instructions for using the Progeny
control panel.

2) Forcing different IRQ for USB: From what I can gather, the USB controller
gets assigned IRQ 9 by default in Linux; unfortunately, this is not correct,
due to a buggy bios, and though the controller will be identified, no USB
devices will work. The USB controller has to be manually forced to use
IRQ11. Where would I make this change??

Thanks in advance,


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