Thanks for all of the replies.
Anyhow, here's what I found out through research:
To enable a bootsplash startup screen during the initial kernel execution:
1. Rebuild a new kernel with these options enabled:
and with this patch
. The patch you need may vary. I am using kernel 126.96.36.199, and this patch worked fine.
2. Rebuild/install grub-0.97, adding the --enable-graphics
3. Build/install /sbin/splash
# tar xjvf bootsplash-3.0.7.tar.bz2
# cd bootsplash-3.0.7/Utility
# make splash
# cp splash /sbin
4. Obtain a bootsplash theme from this site
(or any other of your choice), and install it within a “themes” directory (create it if it does not already exist):
# mkdir -p /etc/bootsplash/themes
5. Run a command similar to this:
# /sbin/splash -s -f /etc/bootsplash/themes/yourtheme/config/bootsplash-800x600.cfg > /boot/initrd.splash
6. Update Grub's menu.lst file to include a new entry, or use an existing one if you are brave:
# vi /boot/grub/menu.lst
kernel /boot/clfskernel-188.8.131.52 quiet rw root=/dev/hda1 vga=788 splash=silent
7. Reboot and select the (new) entry added to the Grub menu.
a) If you already have an initrd (initial ram disk), then Step 5 above will not work for you. You will need to find an alternate way to append to your existing initrd the data necessary to kickstart the bootsplash.
b) Additional support will be needed if you require a progress bar within your theme. This support needs to be added (somehow) to the start up scripts in /etc/rc.d/init.d. If you figure this out, please let me know how!