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do not worry about the img file. that simple.
nvidia: always need to re-install nvidia after kernel compile
others: recompile kernel and add those things in, hopefully you read the tutorials that tell you to keep your old kernel available.
you using redhat i presume..
1. did you build usb support and the other fails, as modules??
when you do a make install, do it come up with an error about modules?? i bet it does, ive had similar problems. You need to build all the stuff you have as modules now, as modules again. make oldconfig might do the trick. the red had initrd has all the modules that are going to be loaded, but loads them at boot time. thus negating the intire idea behind modules if you ask me, but anyway
ext3, thats easy, set built in support for ext3 in filesystems.
and before you build any red hat kernel, be sure to do a make clean and make mrproper...
and your gonna have to run your nvidia script for every kernel, if you do it as described in the nvidia instructions. but at their ftp you can get the source and build modules for each of your kernels and load them into their respective places in /lib/modules/ so modprobe can get em.
oh! that is because you have it compiled static not module, as static it is already always loaded, but then on boot it looks to load a module unaware it is static, then it fails, but usb is still active
modems are cheep, buy a new external one for serial.
oh on another note:
for modem/ppp you need the correct ppp option in kernel (duh) but also in character devices you need the "dumb" serial options, not sure which exactly, I just enable them all. hope that helps.