I downloaded Debian "Sarge" (3.1) here:
It installed fine, although it gave an error during the package installation portion, whether or not I had "desktop" checked.
I followed your HOWto but ran into a problem. I hope you, or someone, can help.
1. My folder is "linux" after doing the tar xjf, where yours is "linux-2.4.23". Maybe not a big deal, but I wanted to let you know. The file I downloaded was "linux-2.4.17.tar.bz2" from kernel.org.
2. My "make menuconfig" shows "arch/i386/debconfig" when I go to load an alternate configuration file. (Yours shows "/boot/config-2.4.18-bf2.4".) Not sure if that's a problem, or if that's OK. I ended up leaving what mine was by default.
make dep - OK
make-kpkg clean - OK
the fakeroot command ends up giving me an error
I don't know how to export that text so I can paste it here, so I just took a picture (click for larger image):
Hopefully it's something simple.
Again, my project specifically requires I have a 2.4.17 kernel, so that's why I downloaded that version.
Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!