I learned on a 54/36 setup! The thing of it is, with a "normal" setup, you do a 2/1 ribbing down the whole leg. Set the ribber's pitch so that every other ribber needle matches up to a slot on the 54, and replace every third cylinder needle with one of those matched up ribber slot's needle.
There's a great selvedge for this too, documented here: http://www.angoravalley.com/patterns/easylegare54.html
Only just recently I learned another trick, called "half pitch", which lets you knit a 72-needle sock on a 54/36 setup. You set up the ribber so that one needle hits on a 54's slot and the ribber needle next to it hits in the space between two cylinder needles (that's the "half pitch". So, you have it set up like this:
* Cyl-Rib.5-Cyl-Rib(Cyl under it empty) , repeat from *
(Rib.5 means the Ribber slot is 1/2 way (0.5, get it) between the two Cylinder slots)
I personally haven't tried this setup other than to set my machine up that way to show myself it _would_ work, since I have a 72 slot cylinder I can use. But for folks with just a 54/36 setup, it's a possibility.
(posted by me this day on sockknittingmachinefriends)