If I would want a smaller kernel with ath support compiled in, I would start by just adding the ath stuff in a fresh kernel config.
If that works fine, then I would remove kernel support for network interface cards I don't and never will have. Then I would use this kernel for a while and see how that goes.
OK. I'm going to try that. I can't wait to see the result
What I'm actually doing right now is this: first of all I didn't change anything yet, as far as networking drivers are concerned (all of the necessary ath stuff is in GENERIC). I only added this:
Let's see what happens. Here are the results:
Kernel hang and complete system lock up at:
ath0: hardware error; resetting
ath0: 0x01181300 0x00000000 0x00000000, 0x00000000 0x00000000 0x00000000
Very strange. The GENERIC kernel that is automatically being installed during a minimal install of RELENG_8 doesn't do this.