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mkinird by default creates a zipped image file unless you specifically tell it not to (read the man page). If you have installed linux on the harddrive and no longer booting from the cd then you don't really need the initrd image anymore. You are also switching from a 2.4 kernel to a 2.6 kernel which means most likely you will have to update a bunch of other important packages too. There are many documents online explaining what is needed for updating a 2.4 to a 2.6 kernel. So just search around. Or you can read the documents in the kernel source tree in the Documentation directory.