Kernels (the sources) aren't available from freshmeat. You get them from www.kernel.org
. The latest stable kernel is 2.6.2 but don't click on the link on the front page. That takes you to a patch. If you want the whole source then just browse the ftp or http servers. I'd recommend this over using a precompiled kernel from your distro. The kernel you compile will be much smaller and you'll learn a lot during the process.
I don't know of any step-by-step guides except for a debian one here
. It's not very good for non-debian distros. Basically, the procedure is:
make menuconfig (or make xconfig)
make modules_install (as root)
You do the above from the root directory of your kernel source. If yo uhave any problems, I'm glad to help.