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how to get a working .config kernel config file


I am trying to build a custom kernel with openMosix
patches for my debian 4.0 system. I copied an existing
config file from /boot/config-2.6.18-4-686 to my new
kernel source tree folder and renamed it to be
.config.  Then I ran 'make-kpkg kernel_image' to build
the kernel. But when I reboot with the new kernel, I
got a boot error.

I also ran the make menuconfig, but I did not know
what to choose because I do not know what type of
hardware my machine has. Can anyone suggest me on how
to get a working .config file ?  I just want a
simple/plain working .config file? Any suggestion ?
Any document or outline steps? Please help. 

Many thanks. 


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