lenny was initially used, by the time gamma was released, I had brought it over to sid.
Orbiter was not recompiled at all, but rather copied, using ldd to find and deal with dependencies, installing packages as needed to satisfy them, clearing and purging the apt cache as needed, and stripping Orbiter to significantly decrease its disk space requirements.
for development, I used nothing more than a tablet, a usb hub, a keyboard, a cdrom drive, both attached to the usb hub, booting from the cd, quitting to a shell, and manually partitioning the flash, putting a filesystem on the flash, and used deboostrap on the resulting mount.
The hardest part of this, is finding the Penmount drivers to use. Just save yourself the pain, and use the penmount_drv.so from the system, using the xorg.conf I built, and copying the calibration info I generated using penmount's utilities in /etc over.
You'll quickly find yourself out of space soon.
Good luck on SimplePhone, this one will not be easy, and if you succeed, you will learn an awful lot of how Telecom_Plugin, the Asterisk DCE device, Asterisk, and the rest of the system interact. Lots of work will need to be engineered into the system to make this work correctly, because the system assumes any SimplePhone is attached to the orbiter of a MEDIA DIRECTOR, and thus, you'll see all sorts of interesting behavior.
And remember, not everyone will have or want a configuration like this, so you will need to do some _SERIOUS_ brain crunches to work out the UI interactions and anticipate the possible configuration differences.
This isn't a slight to get you off of it, or anyone else for that matter. It is a challenge to see which ones of you are up for the challenge of some _REAL_ work to bring a feature to life. It will force you to seriously think about what "whole house unification" really means.
Are any of you up for it?