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Ars Checks Out CyanogenMod's New Installer 143

Posted by timothy
from the nobody-cool-goes-there-any-more dept.
Ars Technica runs through the pretty and simple (but Windows-only) installer that is one of the first big fruits of the newly commercialized CyanogenMod project, and finds it very worthwhile. However, and despite being far easier for ordinary mortals than the error-prone process of the old way to put on CyanogenMod, it's not perfect: reviewer Ron Amadeo ran into troubles using it on his Nexus 4, and cautions: "If CyanogenMod Inc. really wants to lower the barrier to entry, they next thing they need is a way for users to just as easily go back to the setup they had before installing CyanogenMod. Currently, the installer is a one-way street. If the user decides CyanogenMod isn't for them and wants to go back, they're stuck. Even worse, they could run into the situation I did, where CyanogenMod installs but everything is broken. I've done this enough that I know how to go back to stock, but for a novice, they would have been abandoned with a broken phone."
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Ars Checks Out CyanogenMod's New Installer

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  • backup (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fermion (181285) on Sunday November 17, 2013 @10:42PM (#45451713) Homepage Journal
    So what happened to back up before upgrade. Can' t the installer backup, and then revert.
    • There's no technical reason why not; Backing up your currently installed ROM, warts an' all, is offered at the bootloader. I don't know if it's offerd by the stock Nexus 4 bootloader as I only booted stock to make sure it wasn't DoA, but it's again technically possible.

      Booting to recovery is offered in the power menu on CM, so functionality to call boot options from the live OS is also possible. Baking in current ROM backup should be trivial.
      • > There's no technical reason why not;

        Actually, there are a few. With an ARM Cortex, it's possible to build a phone that has encrypted ROM chips that can only be decrypted by "trusted" elements on the SoC. So, unless you can find a way to trick code running from trusted exec space into dumping the ROM chips for you, you might NOT be able to easily rip them for recovery. Whenever a new phone gets released, this is one of the first problem the early pioneers for it at XDA usually face... how to rip the car

        • That's a good point, but not really a rebuttal to my response. Having the bootloader backup the current ROM doesn't affect whether the new ROM will be able to make use of the phone hardware; This thread was specifically regarding whether there could be ROM backup baked into the ROM installer, for instance in case Cyanogenmod couldn't make use of the full features of the camera. In this case, having a ROM backup to revert back to stock would be ideal, as otherwise the user would be left with, as you've point
        • by tlhIngan (30335)

          Until VERY recently, the AOSP camera app was pretty crippled compared to the camera apps that shipped with the phones insofar as things like HDR, anti-shake, etc. were concerned.

          Still is, actually. Google's been slowly closed-sourcing a lot of Android in an attempt to thwart manufacturers using AOSP from shipping phones that work almost like, but without, Google. (Remember Android was purchased by Google because Google was worried Apple would turn the screws down on Google and iOS.). With stuff like the Kin

    • by JeffOwl (2858633)
      I use Safestrap recovery. It allows you to create partitions that can be used to install more than one image. In fact, just this summer I installed CyanogenMod 10.1.3 in a separate partition. It was a little too buggy so I went back to the main image by just booting into recovery and selecting the stock image. I can switch back and forth at will. I don't even have to back up the image to a PC. By the way, when it reverted it still had all my old settings.
  • Unlocked phones are becoming more available, and more carriers offer "bring-your-own-device" plans. So this should be offered as something you get installed by small phone retailers or, for more volume, bulk importers of phones and tablets. It's useful for people who don't want to be tied to Google or Apple online services.

    • Unlocked phones are becoming more available, and more carriers offer "bring-your-own-device" plans. So this should be offered as something you get installed by small phone retailers or, for more volume, bulk importers of phones and tablets. It's useful for people who don't want to be tied to Google or Apple online services.

      Unlocked bootloader is not the same as network unlocked, unfortunately.

      And considering the legislative environment, it may never be the same. Thankfully, unlocked phones (both network and bootloader) are becoming quite common - thanks, in part to google (and the nexus devices). Also, it's been "a thing" in europe for some time, I hear.

      • by icebike (68054) on Monday November 18, 2013 @12:41AM (#45452067)

        Unlocked bootloader is not the same as network unlocked, unfortunately.

        True, although Google is slowly repackaging Android such that you can update things without waiting for the
        carriers, and as soon as they complete this process by kicking the radio and screen drivers outside the kernel
        you will be able to do this easier.

        (It was only desperation that got them into that mess of monolithic software loads in the first place. The damage
        they had to do to linux while shoehorning it into Android was mostly in destroying Linux's hard won kernel packaging.)

        Right now Cyanogenmod has to tiptoe around a bit to avoid pissing off the patent trolls that own the
        radio drivers when they complete replace everything else, but attempt to leave your radios intact.

        • by Kongming (448396)
          Curious, has Google said or implied anything about plans for separating the radio drivers form the kernel? If so, could someone point me to it?
          • by icebike (68054)

            They didn't say that yet, but they have started moving many other key parts out of the monolithic kernel.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Hmm. More of America's fascination with Europe...we loathe it, talk about how we are more free than it, a model for it, then end up copying it (badly). The mutual exclusion in my head between 'freedom' and freedom is getting larger than the propoganda can cover these days...

      • by Pricetx (1986510)

        As far as I'm aware, Europe (or, at least, the EU) has never had carrier locked phones. It's still common to buy them on contracts with a carrier, but if you cancelled the contract, you could immediately switch carrier with the device and continue using it. This isn't to say that carriers don't like bundling bloatware with their devices though.

        That being said, it also helps that we don't have an odd mix of GSM and CDMA to contend with.

        • by Ash Vince (602485) *

          As far as I'm aware, Europe (or, at least, the EU) has never had carrier locked phones. It's still common to buy them on contracts with a carrier, but if you cancelled the contract, you could immediately switch carrier with the device and continue using it.

          Sorry to disappoint you but we generally do (or used to anyway, I haven't tried with my current phone yet). Here in the UK if you buy a pay as you go phone on the cheap from O2 you will have to take it to some dodgy shop to get it unlocked for use on Orange or Vodafone with a different sim. Luckily those dodgy shops are everywhere so it is not that hard. The carriers still used to try though last time I checked.

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          Europe has always had carrier locking, but it's seldom used on PAYG and it can usually be removed by your carrier on pay-monthly for a token fee.

          • by fuzzywig (208937)
            Generally the carrier will not do it for you, but there's plenty of dodgy little shops that will unlock your phone for a small fee.
  • > "If CyanogenMod Inc. really wants to lower the barrier to entry, they next thing they need is a way for users to just as easily go back to the setup they had before installing CyanogenMod

    Reflash your phone back to stock if needed. Sometimes you have to search but typically the manufacturer provides a service tool that can be used. Or you can just take it back to the store you bought it from and make their techs do it.

    As far as backing up your data, there are apps to do that.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Some issues with this. Take Sony Xperia phones for an example: the PC Companion will not automatically update a phone or reflash it back to stock if the bootloader is unlocked. To top it off, there is no official way to relock the bootloader once unlocked. To relock you have to download a 3rd party program called Flashtool which allows you to do this plus more. I wouldn't expect a normal user to find this out easily.

    • Reflash your phone back to stock if needed.

      Notably "back to stock" is not anywhere close to "back to the setup they had".

      Losing all your data in the process is one hell of a change.

      • by JeffOwl (2858633)
        I use Safestrap recovery. It allows you to create partitions that can be used to install more than one image while leaving your stock image intact. I can switch back and forth at will. I don't even have to back up the image to a PC. By the way, when it reverted to stock it still had all my old settings and, as a bonus, apps that use SD card storage for data picked up where they left off on either image.
  • I installed cm10.1 on a Samsung captivate today. Took it from its stock froyo build straight to ics in just 30 minutes. The instructions are more complicated than a one button upgrade but really the problem isn't that there is no way back. The problem is that people don't demand the same service for their purchase from the manufacturer.

  • As I read it, the complaint is that you can't revert to the old OS if you install a new OS.

    Show me any OS installer that does that!

    Whinging from an idiot in my books.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      wubi installs Ubuntu in a way that reverting to Windows is trivial.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      As I read it, the complaint is that you can't revert to the old OS if you install a new OS.

      Show me any OS installer that does that!

      Well, as usual a bunch of people who have never flashed a rom to their phone and don't know fuck about shit are here to comment.

      Let's talk about the Nexus 4 in particular. I own one and have been flashing it regularly (heh heh) for days now. This is not my first time around the block, but it is my first Nexus device. The Nexus 7 (also have) is basically the same, a little harder to get into the bootloader. If you flash cyanogenmod to the device via ROM Manager, which requires a compatible (TWRP or CWM) reco

      • by msobkow (48369)

        OMG! You mean I was *wrong*?

        Holy shit, like that has *never* happened before. :P

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          You're entitled to be wrong, people are wrong all the time, including me.

          What you're not allowed to do without comment is chip in on something you've never even touched like you had something insightful to say.

  • Can I get the APK outside Google Play? I don't have a Google Account anymore. Funny note: cyanogenmod doesn't even come with Google Play. If you are looking for a store, I'd recommend 1mobile :http://www.1mobile.com/ Lots of crapware and fakes (search for minecraft), but there are official apps too and the store manage updates.
    • Funny note: cyanogenmod doesn't even come with Google Play.

      Now I really want to find some time to get cyanogenmod on my gTab. I'm getting so tired of seeing the constant update of Google apps, and the 20 flavors of Google Play. Even Microsoft saves their updates to one push per month.

    • FDroid is better than any "store."

      • by sirber (891722)

        FDroid is better than any "store."

        Doesn't have facebook, flickr, netflix, etc. Pretty useless...

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