Former Writer · Nov 22, 2012 at 09:00 am

Galaxy Camera Development Moving Along: Root, Partition Tables, Heimdall, and Unbrickable Mod!

There have been a plethora of new devices added to our forum as of late. While many had large scale launches, such as the Nexus 4 and the Galaxy Note II, there are others that didn’t get as much of the limelight. One such device is the Samsung Galaxy Camera. It’s a unique device. It has all the specs of a high end smartphone, except it’s a 16 MP point-and-shoot camera, and developers here at XDA have been hacking the daylights out of it.

Heading up the development is XDA Elite Recognize Developer Adam Outler. We’ve written about his work for the device before, including achieving root on the device using CF AutoRoot by fellow Elite Recognized Developer Chainfire. Since then, Adam has been working pretty hard to give the Galaxy Camera a solid base for development, and he’s doing quite well.

Among the first things Adam did was create a PIT file using the partition table that was also released, and update Heimdall to work with the device. This is a pretty big deal for various reasons. Given that Heimdall is how Linux users flash Odin files, Galaxy Camera owners can now flash tar files on Linux without the need for Windows. This can help fix all sorts of problems such as soft bricks. For those who don’t know, the PIT file will also help with bricks, as it carries all the partition information for the device. You can find Adam’s explanations of the partitions along with instructions on getting the updated Heimdall in the Heimdall and Partition thread.

To add to the development awesomeness, Adam is also working on making UnBrickable Mod compatible with the Galaxy Camera. This is huge news as it means anyone can recover from hard bricks. For those who don’t know, the UnBrickable Mod project extends back to last year, and it’s something we’ve been keeping track of. It’s run by Adam and so far, over a dozen Samsung devices now have UnBrickable Mod, with many more in progress. The full process is explained by Adam:

Pure and simple, this is a hardware exploit which allows direct upload of code to run on the S5PC110/Hummingbird/Cortex A8 platform. Samsung’s chain of trust(CoT) model uses hardware to authenticate the Integrated Read-Only Memory (IROM), which authenticates the initial bootloader (IBL), which authenticates the Primitive Bootloader(PBL)… The IROM,IBL, and PBL are all loaded in IRAM, the PBL’s job is to initialize Dynamic RAM(DRAM) and authenticate/load the Secondary bootloader(SBL AKA BL3), which loads a kernel, which loads the operating system you see on-screen.

This is a two part hack. We’ve developed a hardware modification which allows USB download of code. We’ve also developed the Hummingbird Interceptor bootloader(HIBL) which intercepts the CoT and allows a second, unsigned download. The HIBL uses official code to handle authentication, which jumps to another memory location. It’s this memory location where we place our exploit. Our exploit reuses the same code that downloads the HIBL to IRAM, but it initializes DRAM which means you can directly upload a SBL(the final bootloader) to DRAM.

So once again.. really quick… We use a hardware mod to download Rebellos’ HIBL, which violates the Chain of Trust, exploits a memory jump and allows unsigned code to run on the processor. All this means you can revive a dead phone easily or try out other operating systems and debug easily, regardless of signature checking on the device.

If you’d like more info, you can check out the original UnBrickable Mod thread for more details. It’s pretty complicated, but definitely among the coolest mods being worked on here at XDA. The Galaxy Camera will soon be a part of this project as well, as Adam is working on a boot-from-sd-card fix for hard bricked Galaxy Cameras. It’s based on a similar mod being worked on for the Galaxy S III.

Coincidentally, this mod is also scheduled to be ported to the Galaxy Note II and all of its variants, the other Samsung Galaxy S III variants, and Meizu MX2. To learn more, visit the the UnBrickable Mod thread. It isn’t actually available for the Galaxy Camera yet, as there is still a lot of work to be done with the Exynos 4412. However, you can find some nice bits of wisdom as to how to prevent hard bricking your device for the time being.

All in all, there is some exciting development work underway for the Samsung Galaxy Camera. It now has root, official Heimdall support, and a PIT file. We can only hope that this pace of development continues well into the future. Check out the threads linked above to learn more.


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Former Writer

Former Writer is an editor on XDA-Developers, the largest community for Android users. View Former Writer's posts and articles here.
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