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Posts Tagged ‘darky’s rom

Darky vs CyanogenMod

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CyanogenMod 7 screenshot

CyanogenMod 7 screenshot

Owners of a Samsung Galaxy S smartphone, rejoice! The time has come to join the Cyanogenmod crowd and throw all previous attempts at Android firmware into a bonfire!

To be fair I lived six months with the default Samsung firmware, the one that was carefully modified by my operator to remove features they did not want me to use and filled up with ads and crapware. Yeah, no good. Even if I could tolerate the crapware, the phone was kinda unreactive and full of irritating bugs.

Then I read an article about an alternative firmware that would speed my phone by magnitudes, and it was true. Six more months have passed and I have now come to the conclusion that Darky may not be the best choice for Galaxy s.

Darky’s ROM is built by a single guy who fell in love with his phone and discovered it was not too hard to tweak an Android ROM into something better. I do not want to minimize what Darky did, he put some heroic efforts into producing something that many paid-for people at Samsung could not achieve. For this he should be thanked a million times. Thing is: Darky is mostly just a single guy. Until recently he did not even have a dedicated web site to distribute his ROM, you would have to Google around and end up on the xda-developers forum to find that the Darky’s ROM web site was actually a sticky topic lost in the middle of a gazillion discussions about Android. The ROM itself is still distributed through various warez sites. Darky’s ROM now has its own web site, but the lack of professionalism kind of shows through the pages. See for yourself.

Enters Cyanogenmod. A ROM built by (volunteer) professionals around a common core source tree for various kinds of devices. The effort seems to have been recognized for its value by the industry as the core developer was recently hired by Samsung. Several vendors contribute devices to the project in the hope that Cyanogenmod may support them some day.

As an end-user I have to admit that the result is pleasant. Going from Darky to CyanogenMod did not get me much in terms of software features (they are more or less the same) but I now feel like I put my phone ROM on the path to longer-term maintenance, knowing that you have a full team behind each release with forums and IRC channels and a bug-report system that makes every release better than the ones before.

If you intend to keep your Galaxy S alive for some more years you definitely want to stick to a development team that is committed to maintaining the software alive. It seems kind of weird that this effort has not been undertaken by Google themselves but by a team of independent and motivated hackers. Don’t tell me Google cannot find the resources to do the same, I believe they have enough engineers. If you are not ready to tinker with your phone, your only alternative is to follow firmware releases offered by your Mobile Operator. This means at least a year delay between an Android release and the moment you will have it in your hands, and that is: only if Google, Samsung and your Mobile Operator have all decided that your device may be supported. It is of course all too tempting to declare older-than-a-year devices obsolete and force you to buy a new one to get the latest Android. Will not happen.

If your choice today has to be between an iPhone 4S and and Android device, I’d say you will have more freedom with a jailbroken iPhone and more frequent firmware updates without need for dark magic smartphone hacking. Your mileage may vary.

Written by nicolas314

Thursday 20 October 2011 at 10:59 pm

Yak Shaving with Android and Google

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YakYak shaving is definitely not my favourite activity but it seems I cannot escape it as soon as I touch something remotely involved with computers. For the curious, a good description of yak shaving was proposed on Seth Godin’s blog. Quoting:

Yak Shaving is the last step of a series of steps that occurs when you find something you need to do. “I want to wax the car today.”

“Oops, the hose is still broken from the winter. I’ll need to buy a new one at Home Depot.”

“But Home Depot is on the other side of the Tappan Zee bridge and getting there without my EZPass is miserable because of the tolls.”

“But, wait! I could borrow my neighbor’s EZPass…”

“Bob won’t lend me his EZPass until I return the mooshi pillow my son borrowed, though.”

“And we haven’t returned it because some of the stuffing fell out and we need to get some yak hair to restuff it.”

And the next thing you know, you’re at the zoo, shaving a yak, all so you can wax your car.

I have an Android phone running a snappy Gingerbread called Darky’s ROM. Cool stuff and the phone has been incredibly responsive since. Touch the screen and the interface jumps to respond to your command, a real treat… until a few days ago when I started to notice some heavy lags. Slow mail, slow news, frozen apps, force close on system apps, dropped and missed calls, a real nightmare.

A quick lookup on DarkyRom’s web site revealed that a new (final) version had just been released and could be installed by merely downloading a zip and installing it via an app. Cool! Let’s update stuff! I love updating stuff! It only took me five minutes to download, install, and… loose all network connectivity on my phone. The damn thing was still sluggish as hell and would not hold a 3G or WiFi connection for more than a couple of minutes. Impressive. I have absolutely no idea what I did wrong and to be honest, the DarkyRom web site is an atrociously unstructured jungle where even the most adventurous get lost. No chance of me ever finding out which step I missed.

The following six hours were spent trying various recovery strategies, including 3 re-installations of Darky’s (i.e. two consecutive ROMs each time) and 1 installation of Cyanogenmod which finally corrected the network issue. I ended up with a reverted Darky’s ROM on my phone with complete connectivity. Six hours just to go back to square one. I swear I will look deeper into Android backup strategies now.

Half a day later I re-installed all apps from Titanium Backup (this app is a lifesaver) and recovered a fully functional smartphone. Re-installing apps one by one allowed to find the culprit: the Google Music app had been eating more CPU, memory and network than all other apps combined. Yeah. Beta software with emphasis on Beta.

TL;DR: I installed a shitty Google app, spent a night repairing my blunder, learned a few things about Android, lost trust in Darky’s ROM and Google apps, figured out a backup strategy for my smartphone.

Now this is one shaven yak, my friend. What was I up to initially?

Written by nicolas314

Thursday 6 October 2011 at 1:47 pm