I could be having a similar problem... when I recompiled my 2.6.10 kernel (just for kicks), I now get NO sound, and this error when I boot up:
Sound server informational message:
Error while initializing the sound driver:
device /dev/dsp can't be opened (No such device)
The sound server will continue, using the null output device.
which is odd since I really didn't change any of the sound features while doing xconfig