problem solved...tough I did it through updates, like this:
1) updated my kernel from 2.4.20-something to 2.4.22-something (sources first!
2) enabled some new modules in the new kernel and compiled it
3) reboot, and firewall got runnig. yes...
it just seemed like I either missed some modules (?) or then just had some weird error....don't know. good it works now.