To Oblivion and Back: Hacking an Android phone

Ok so not really into oblivion, that would be bricking the phone and that is something everyone avoids. No what I’m taking about is just going from rom to rom, kernel mod to kernel mod, etc, etc till well you just wanna go home and try to get where you were cleanly. So at the beginning of this journey, I have a Samsung Vibrant. I love this phone and love the screen. I’ve got this thing loaded with all the apps and widgets I need to get every home screen covered with something awesome.

The first mod out there was the lag fix. Samsung used their proprietary file system, RFS, as the main file system to use with the /data partition. Problem with this is its not very fast. Using Quadrant Standard to benchmark the phone, you see it lag at the database i/o test. This gives a score less then the Nexus One. Pityful. The ‘lag fix’ fixes this by writing a huge file to be mounted in place of /data and uses the ext2 file system. ext is the goto file system of linux and by default ext2 is supported in the stock Android kernel. But ext2 has problems of its own like what happens if you lose power, etc. So Project Voodoo came out and rebuilt the kernel to allow the use of ext4, the latest version of the file system that is much more stable and protected. Also Voodoo simply reformats the RFS partition as ext4, not create a file sitting inside of it.

The other major modification I used was the Bionix rom which included an OC/UV kernel(overclocked/undervolted) that supports Voodoo, the gps fix from a leaked rom, and other little things. I also applied the Mobile AP package and the captivate camera app. So by now I’m very far from home and at this point I’ve used Clockwork Mod to flash back and forth between roms and Titanium Backup to keep my apps/data saved that I feel I’ve sufficiently hacked and dirtied my phone. The big trick is to go back to stock factory and get back to where you want to be in the most direct route that does the lease amount of changes.

To get the Vibrant back to stock(and I had to get the kernel back too since I was using a rebuilt version), I had to use ODIN. Something I haven’t used since hacking with my Behold II(Don’t knock the phone, it was nice enough at the time, but time moves very very quickly). Anyways if you take a look at the forums you’ll see many people had a difficult time just trying to get into Download mode. It should be noted that Download mode is different from Recovery mode. Its easy to get into recovery. I tried many different key combos and I just couldn’t do it, but then at this point I had altered the system when I had Clockwork Mod installed. So I caved and used ‘adb reboot download’ It worked, but I wanted to use the keys to do it.

Once in download mode, I used ODIN to install the JE8 firmware(which is pre-release, ie the phone had JFD by the time it was sold to users). Oh I should note I pulled out my sd card and sim card while doing this. I had already backed up the internal memory as the ODIN process will wipe everything. I did this to make sure I had the original kernel and everything. I then used ODIN again to apply the JFD(true stock) firmware and now I was back home to the way it was out of the box. By this point I figured out how to get into Download mode using the keys.

1. Power off phone, pull battery and put back(This is just an in general kind of thing to do so get used to it). 2. Plug in usb and wait for the charging icon 3. Hold vol down and power 4. Release power when screen turns on

Now that I’m back to stock, I want to use the Voodoo lag fix but also want to use the very nice JAC XMOD OC/UV Voodoo kernel. You dont have to have root to install the kernel, but I had already rooted the phone since I was going to use Titanium Backup to restore my apps. Whats cool with the Voodoo kernel is there is a nice voice that lets you know what its doing while it does its magic. Props to them. So from stock, install kernel and voodoo fix, then install apps, and finally install the mobile ap, camera, and gps fixes.

With all that I feel my phone has been through a thorough wash and modded in a way I feel satisfactory. Also doing this lets me know I can do it.


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