Four basic methods can be used to configure the Linux kernel. Chances are you'll have the opportunity to try all of them eventually. The methods are:
Modifying tunable (dynamic) kernel configuration parameters
Loading new drivers and modules on the fly into an existing kernel
Building a kernel from scratch (really, this means compiling it from source files, possibly with modifications and additions)
Providing operational directives at boot time through the kernel loader, LILO, or GRUB. See page 23 for more information about these systems.
These methods are each applicable in slightly different situations. Modifying tunable parameters is the easiest and most common, whereas building a kernel from source files is the hardest and least often required. Fortunately, all of these approaches become second nature with a little practice.