Q: How do I get a development kernel to run on my workstation? I can't seem to get any configuration to boot.
I get a kernel panic, telling me that the root system cannot be mounted. I have copied the default .config from your ship-kernel and compiled from it and still have trouble.
A: This is one of the reasons they are called experimental. I've encounter the same thing, myself. I'd do one of two things: Try a different version, or do a "make menuconfig" or "make xconfig" and remove a lot of the drivers. If you have a Symbios SCSI car,d make sure you're using the 8xxx driver, not the 7xxx,8xxx.
Not being able to mount root fs generally means that the kernel can't see your hard drive, or is trying to use the wrong device. Check /etc/lilo.conf and look to see if your SCSI card, and/or drives are seen.