Geeking around with hardware, plus some Android apps recommendations

Speaking of being good at being a beginner – I need to document and jot down the things I did this Wednesday night for relaxing. Yes, I spent half the night modding and messing around with my old and trusted Android Phone, an HTC Magic (aka Sapphire) 32B stuck at Android 1.6.

Now it’s rooted, running a CyanogenMod 6.0.0 build and making its user a very happy camper. And as I’ve also (re-)added and refactored some apps, I feel tempted to add my own list of Android apps to have:

  • Aldiko Ebook-Reader and/or Amazon Kindle reader
  • Adobe pdf-reader
  • Instafetch and/or HardCopy for Offline-Reading of my Instapaper items – not sure what I prefer, still testing both
  • AndReader for Offline-Reading of ReadItLater items – my previously used (and bought) Paperdroid stopped working after the CyanogenMod
  • NewsRob for RSS-reading
  • WikiDroyd for offline Wikipedia-reading (needs a 400 MB  download, but hey)
  • Astrid GTD-app
  • Awesome drop for dropping stuff on my Android
  • Dropbox
  • Dolphin Browser and/or Opera Mini Browser – both will stay on the handset, I like the new looks of Dolphin
  • Twidroyd – newly updated Twitter client
  • buzz widget – post to buzz easily
  • tumblr – need to test this
  • chompSMS – I don’t SMS a lot, but it’s nicer than the standard fare
  • Shazam – “what’s that playing on the radio?”, Compass, Google Maps, Google Sky, Google Skynet (ok, this one’s a joke)
  • BarcodeScanner – “what’s that QR/Bacrcode/etc.”
  • Titanium Backup
  • CyanogenMod updater
  • ES File Explorer
  • SmartKeyboard
  • Free Advanced Task Killer

Now you’re right that for modding I didn’t had to touch the hardware much (besides the sad fact that I needed to remove the battery several times to start over) – it’s more of a software thing. Needless to say that this elevates the complexity of the task at hand. Wading through tons of (forum) posts, “how to do it” and lifehack-bundles compiled by Windows users does more mischief. So here are my basic steps, done with Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 to this HTC Magic 32B:

  • Begin with rooting the phone (read above how to do it, easy). You need this.

Then it’s following the steps in the wiki: Full Update Guide – HTC Magic (32B) – and check the md5sum of the to make sure the zip isn’t corrupted.

  • getting ROM Manager (did it with v2.0.3.2) from the Android market onto the 1.6-stuck phone
  • get the Android SDK (deb packages provided) on your machine, install and get the fastboot executable, place it in the tools subdirectory
  • download the latest AMON_RA recovery (got RA-sapphire-v1.7.0G) – the G is suitable for my Google branded phone, HTC brands need the H variety.
  • download the latest CyanogenMod. Don’t unzip this. Get the Google apps package too. They aren’t bundled, no, no.
  • USB-plug the phone into your machine (enable USB debugging on the handset prior to this)
  • replace the original recovery image with the RA recovery one (don’t forget to sudo the fastboot command, tripped over this at first)
  • reboot into Amon_RA’s recovery (first step with this image)
  • make a nandroid backup (really, make this now and later after you have modded your handset – I had to restore from the backup already, had a working CyanogenMod backup thankgod and it’s always a good feeling being safe)
  • with the phone connect via USB, open up a cmd prompt and go to the second sequence of steps when dealing with the recovery image: 1. adb devices – a device name and ‘recovery’ should be returned, 2. adb push [path to where you’ve goth the recovery image on your machine]/recovery-RA-sapphire-v1.x.xG.img /sdcard/recovery.img and 3. adb shell flash_image recovery /sdcard/recovery.img

Then, install for the first time (this is a kind of upgrading, too):

  • copy the Cyanogen ROM and the Google apps package onto the SDCard-/ (you didn’t unzip them files, no, you didn’t)
  • reboot into recovery (Hold Home + Power) (press the buttons together for several seconds and then again)
  • I made a full wipe, cleared the cache and all
  • then via Flash zip from sdcard I applied 1. the CyanogenMod zip-file and 2. the Google apps zip-file
  • reboot your phone (and yes, the first boot after flashing a new ROM takes longer than “normal”. 5 minutes is not unusual. Right.
  • be happy (and make your first nandroid backup of your handset to stay happy).

Oh, and messing with hardware and software must wait till tomorrow, that is when the 25 € servers I ordered have arrived … promising endless fun on a Saturday night, messing with lighttpd, Nginx and the ARM architecture.

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