The Linux kernel has always been freely available to anyone who wants it. If you just want to recompile the existing kernel, install the kernel sources package from the CD. To get the very latest "vanilla" version, open an FTP connection to ftp.kernel.org using your favorite FTP client and log in as anonymous. Because you are interested in the 2.6 kernel, change directories to /pub/linux/kernel/v2.6. The latest stable kernel as of this writing is 2.6.17.
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