In Debian you can use a 'simplified' solution to compile a kernel. I've done it on several occasions and has never failed me. Below is the procedure I follow normally which I found on the internet.
First prepare your Debian installation.
apt-get install kernel-package libncurses5-dev fakeroot wget bzip2
tar xjf linux-2.6.X.tar.bz2
where X is the kernel's minor version number.
It is normally a good idea to take the configuration of your existing (working!) kernel 2.6 as a starting point for the configuration of your new kernel. Usually the current kernel configuration is saved in a file under boot, e.g. boot/config-2.6.X.
Exit the menu and run the following:
fakeroot make-kpkg --initrd --revision=custom.1.0 kernel_image
where you can change custom.1.0 to something else if you want it.
If the compilation exits with an error, run:
and start over again from the make menuconfig command.
If all finishes well then you can run:
dpkg -i kernel-image-126.96.36.199_custom.1.0_i386.deb
to install the new kernel and perform all necessary steps like changing initram, adding to Grub boot menu, etc. Reboot your system into the new kernel and check if the options you selected are available.