July 1, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Last week during the Google I/O 2014 opening keynote, Google unveiled the much anticipated and radically different Android L release. The very next day, Google made an early developer preview available for users to get an early taste of what L will eventually be like.
Many end users rocking the Google Nexus 5 or 7 ended up flashing this update, and this in turn lead users to want to root the update. But unfortunately, SuperSU was not yet compatible with Android L Dev Preview, so a workaround with a pre-rooted boot.img was necessary. Now, however, XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire has returned from I/O and presents a new version of SuperSU that is able to handle the L developer Preview. And coming in at version 2.01, this latest update primarily brings support for the L developer preview.
As we talked about in the past, the Android L Developer Preview brings two changes that affect root applications: PIE and execution restriction for files stored on the /data partition. Curiously, /system writes are still possible because the recovery context is still present in the L preview. However, it’s highly likely that this, as well as all of the other commits identified by Chainfire in the above linked articles, will be implemented by the time L is formally released.
If you wish to get in on the L Dev Preview root action, head over to the application thread and give the latest version of SuperSU a shot. And if you wish to learn more about this update and read Chainfire’s take on the changes and how they affect root apps, head over to his release notes on Google+.
Please note that if you rooted with the previous method and now wish to use SuperSU 2.01, you should make sure that you restore your original boot.img (or simply reflash the entire developer image) first.
May 30, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
About a week and a half ago, we took a look at a few recent AOSP merges initially spotted by XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire that severely impact root app developers due to changes in SELinux, default runtime compiler, and the requirement of PIE (Position-Independent Executable) for non-statically built executables. These changes compounded previous headaches caused by commits that prevent SU from executing files stored on the /data partition. Luckily, potential workarounds for the above changes were quickly publicized by Chainfire when he updated his How to SU guide.
Now, the breakage continues, as new AOSP commits are poised to make life more difficult for root app developers and users in upcoming versions of Android. And this time, the workarounds aren’t so simple. The changes in question relate to SELinux and the limiting of /system write access to the recovery context. This would ordinarily be fine and lead to heightened security, but combined with another change that then limited this recovery context to the actual system recovery, it could be a serious blow to the root app community and lead to additional end user difficulty when using root-enabled apps that need to write to the /system partition.
So what do these changes actually mean? For starters, this means that going forward, write access to the /system partition is no longer possible on “rooted stock” ROMs. Instead, developers will have to use custom recoveries to handle /system partition write access through APIs such as Open Recovery System (ORS), which was introduced alongside TWRP2 two years ago. This would be fine if everyone were using a compatible (and updated) custom recovery. However, the sad reality is that not every root user is even on a custom recovery–much less, an updated one that supports ORS or similar functionality flawlessly. And naturally, if a root app doesn’t work well with a particular recovery, it’s likely that the app developer (and not the recovery developer) will be blamed by the end user.
What about the ramifications? In addition to the developer headaches from having to shift over to recovery-based /system partition write access, these changes also place an additional burden on users who will now have to reboot any time they want to write to the /system partition. Moreover, even with a properly compatible custom recovery and updated apps to take advantage of the recovery scripting, certain types of root apps will simply not work without a hack to get around these limitations.
It’s important to keep in mind that there are a few potential saving graces. First of all, /system write access can obviously be re-enabled by a custom kernel. Moreover, it’s not known at this time whether these commits will actually make their way into the next version of Android or another version further down the line. However, not every device is able to run a custom kernel (or custom recovery, for that matter), and devices with locked bootloaders are unfortunately all too common at the moment.
You can read the original post over on Chainfire’s G+ page. Are you a root-enabled user dreading these changes, or do you welcome the increase in security that changes to SELinux bring? Let us know in the comments below.
May 19, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
You may recall that a few months back, XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire analyzed some upcoming changes to AOSP that will likely appear in the next publicly available version of Android. As a quick refresher, the two commits in question at the time made life a little more difficult for root app developers by preventing the SU binary from executing files stored on the /data partition. Because of this change, root-enabled applications that extract and execute files from app-specific directories in the /data partition will have to be updated in order to work on the next version of Android. Luckily, Chainfire detailed a few potential workarounds that were added to his How to SU page. These workarounds include extracting the code and running it from RAM or rootfs, piping commands directly to SU, and so on.
Now, a few more changes have been made to AOSP, which will very likely appear in the next version of Android–be it 4.4.3, 4.5, or whatever other version number Google decides to bestow onto this new build. For starters, changes to SELinux to make it significantly more secure now require more complicated context switching than what was detailed in Chainfire’s previous workarounds. Next, it appears that ART will indeed be the default runtime compiler in the next version of Android. And due to its current immature state and restrictions imposed by SELinux, ART may cause crashes that take down the entire system when incorrect calls are made. Finally, it appears that PIE (Position-Independent Executable), which has been supported since Android 4.1, is now required on non-statically built executables.
Despite all of the changes detailed above, Chainfire already built and released a new version of SuperSU (1.97) that works around all of the potential issues. You can obtain this build directly from the SuperSU thread. Chainfire also updated his How to Su guide with information regarding these changes and how to work around them. And for the full story on all of these root-related changes, head over to Chainfire’s Google+ post.
We last talked about XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire‘s Mobile ODIN back in January with the launch of version 4. For those who don’t recall, v4 brought quite a few new features such as the ability to flash modem images and support for several new Galaxy S 4 and Galaxy Note 3 variants. Now, version 4.20 is here, and it packs a few goodies–no, not THAT.
Mobile ODIN v4.20, which went live yesterday afternoon, packs two new features. First off, the injected SuperSU has been updated to version 1.94. In addition, v4.20 brings support for nine Galaxy S5 variants:
If you’ve got one of the Galaxy S5 variants listed above and would like to flash ODIN-compatible images on the fly, head over to the application thread and give Mobile ODIN a shot. More info can also be found in Chainfire’s Google+ release notes.
It’s been a while since we talked about 500 Firepaper. For those who don’t remember, it’s an innovative application that downloads high quality wallpapers of various genres from the popular service 500px. XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire recently announced a major overhaul to version 2.0.
What’s new in 500 Firepaper v2? The changelog is quite long and is covered on his Google+. These new features include a brand new option to pin a wallpaper for 7 days. Additionally, wallpaper history browsing has been refined, and it now supports swiping. The overall layout of the UI has been improved as well.
500 Firepaper v2 also brings the option to use hardware acceleration with live wallpapers. As stated by Chainfire, it’s still experimental and using can result in some serious issues due to some issues in Android itself, which isn’t ready to properly handle the new feature. Finally, some minor fixes were added here and there to make 500 Firepaper even more reliable.
You can find the latest, updated version of the application in the application thread.
April 14, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
You can now easily switch between Dalvik and ART if you’re experiencing ART-related bootloops! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this weekend. Included in this weekend’s news is the announcement that the Xperia Z2 X-Reality Image Enhancer has been ported to all Xperia Devices and the story about what to do now that you have a Samsung Galaxy S5! That’s not all that’s covered in today’s video!
Jordan talks about the exciting news coming out like the Nokia X camera being ported to Android 4.1+ devices and the announcement that Chainfire has re-released CF.lumen. Pull up a chair and check out this and other XDA Developer TV videos.
April 11, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Well folks, today is Galaxy S5 day and Samsung’s “Next Big Thing” is officially here. And although certain South Korean carriers decided to jump the gun and sell the device a bit early, today marks the device’s official worldwide launch date.
So now that you’ve either gotten your grubby little paws on an S5 or you’re eagerly awaiting delivery from your friendly postal courier, you may be wondering what to do with the device. Well, since you’re reading this, there is absolutely no doubt that you’re going to want to root it and get started with a few (or several) mods. But with so many variants, it’s sometimes hard to find exactly what you need for exactly your model.
Let’s start with root access, as that’s what’s on everyone’s mind. If you may recall a few weeks back, we talked about how XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire managed to root the SM-G900F International Qualcomm variant of the device ahead of release. Since then, Chainfire has been hard at work, bringing CF-Auto-Root to more variants of the device.
So which devices can be rooted today? Glad you asked:
Naturally, more are on the way, and Chainfire will continue to update this post once stock firmwares become available for other variants.
Once you’ve attained root access, you’re probably going to want to install a custom recovery. Thankfully, XDA Recognized Developer Phil3759 has a unified build of PhilZ Touch recovery (which is built on CWM Touch) available for all variants of the device. And so far, it is known to be compatible with the Canadian, Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon, and International variants of the device. From here, you can perform some essential tasks such as creating a Nandroid backup, and installing custom ROMs and kernels once they become available.
You’re also probably going to want to backup that EFS partition. Luckily, XDA Recognized Contributor ricky310711 created an EFS backup and restore app that should be compatible with the A, F, H, and T variants of the device.
Finally, and this should be a given, you should bookmark your device’s appropriate home forum. For the vast majority of versions of the device, that is the International Samsung Galaxy S5 forum. But if you’ve got one of the US carrier variants of the device, make your way over to the AT&T Galaxy S5, T-Mobile Galaxy S5, Verizon Galaxy S5, and Sprint Galaxy S5 forums.
Are you the proud owner of a brand new Galaxy S5? If so, feel free to gloat in the comments below, and don’t forget to let us know about your journeys in r00t!
April 10, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
Way back in 2011, we talked about the interesting Chainfire3D plugin CF.lumen. For those of you who don’t remember, the plugin intelligently modified the color temperature of your device’s display based on the time of day and relative solar position. In other words, a customizable color filter would be added after sundown in the hopes of reducing eyestrain.
Unfortunately, however, the old CF.lumen plugin only worked with devices running Android 2.x. Now let’s fast forward to today, as XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire‘s has brought CF.lumen back from the dead. Today’s new version of CF.lumen comes in at version 2.0, and it brings support for rooted devices running KitKat onwards. And rather than working as a plugin for Chainfire3D, CF.lumen v2 is its own independent application.
CF.lumen v2 functions in much the same way as the old plugin, as it allows you to set color filters to match the time of day. There are three conditions available (day, sundown, sleep), and each can be customized to your own liking. In addition, this version brings a colorblindness mode, which may help those with difficulty distinguishing between certain shades of colors.
March 27, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
The Samsung Galaxy S 5 isn’t even officially available yet, but that hasn’t stopped development for the device. Earlier, we talked about how a system dump appeared, enabling users to begin work porting Samsung’s latest proprietary applications to older devices.
Now, the International SM-G900F variant of the device has been rooted, courtesy of none other than XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire. Root comes in the form of Chainfire’s popular CF-Auto-Root, which is essentially the easiest entry point to root access for those looking to stay close to stock firmware.
Using CF-Auto-Root is easy. Simply flash the CF-Auto-Root package as “PDA” in ODIN while your phone is in download mode, and CF-Auto-Root will do the rest. This pacakge will install the SuperSU binary and APK, as well as the stock recovery. However, it should be noted that this root method will increase your flash counter and trip your KNOX warranty flag.
If you’ve already got your hands on the SM-G900F or simply want to congratulate Chainfire on yet another device rooted ahead of release, head over to the original thread.
Device customization is a great thing, and one of the best places to begin is your home screen wallpaper. To that end, Android has allowed users to define custom wallpapers since its inception—something that took the competition quite a few tries to get right. However, sometimes it becomes tiresome manually changing your wallpaper to suit your mood.
We first talked about 500 Firepaper by XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire back in November of last year. The legendary developer’s application keeps your home screens looking new and fresh with automatically updating wallpapers sourced from the photography site 500px.
Ever since 500 Firepaper’s release, it’s been continually updated with new features such as the ability to disable the parallax effect, an NSFW switch, a history browser, and more. And now in version 1.6, Chainfire has added another major feature: the ability to act as an image provider for Roman Nurik’s Muzei live wallpaper app thanks to Muzei’s open source content provider API. Thus by using 500 Firepaper 1.6 in conjunction with Muzei, you can now enjoy the benefits of both on the same device, and at the same time.
There are a few quirks to keep in mind when using 500 Firepaper as an image provider for Muzei, especially in portrait mode on certain devices. For example, using a Nexus 5 with the Google Experience Launcher in Portrait mode causes the default screen to view the left portion of a background image. Furthermore, images are only changed when you are viewing them. That said, these issues are hardly deal breakers for most users.
You can learn more about the changes and potential issues in version 1.60 by visiting Chainfire’s release notes on Google+. And if you’d like to jump in on the 500 Firepaper action and give the app a shot, head over to the application thread if you haven’t already.
January 20, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
There’s often much speculation surrounding what may be seen in upcoming and updated devices and new versions of Android. Most of this talk unfortunately centers around leaked images of some sort, rather than any hard evidence. Once in a while, however, genuine clues are discovered that help paint a picture of what’s to come.
A little over a week ago, a pair of commits were made to the AOSP master tree that essentially prevent SU from executing files stored on the /data partition. This is an issue because many (but not all) current root apps include files that are extracted to and executed from app-specific directories on this partition. As such, if these commits are not reverted, a large number of current root-enabled apps will need be updated in order to work with this new version of Android.
So if you’re an app developer responsible for creating root-enabled apps, how can you get around these changes? Well, XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire has you covered with a few potential workarounds that were added to his How-To SU page. These workarounds include extracting the code and running it from RAM or rootfs, piping commands directly to SU, and so on.
Now, it’s important to keep in mind that these two commits may be reverted before the release of the next version of Android. Furthermore, if they are retained, it’s anybody’s guess as to the actual version number of this upcoming revision. That said, it’s obviously best to be safe rather than sorry so that you can save yourself and your users the hassle later.
Head over to Chainfire’s Google+ Post to learn more about the changes and what they could mean for the next version of Android. And if you’re developing a root-enabled app and you want to be sure that you are ready for these changes, be sure to check out Chainfire’s How-To SU Page.
[Many thanks to OEM Relations Manager jerdog for the tip!]
January 20, 2014 By: Jimmy McGee
The kernel files have been released for the Android 4.4 KitKat update on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3! That and much more news is covered by Jordan, as he reviews all the important stories from this weekend. Included in this week’s news is the announcement that the full Smart Social Camera Experience has been ported to Android 4.3 Xperia Devices and Mobile ODIN has been updated with more features and support for more devices!
Be sure to check out the the other videos released this last week on XDA Developer TV. XDA Developer TV Producer TK released an Xposed Tuesday video for Root Cloak, he then reviewed the Omate TrueSmart smartwatch 2.0, and finally he gave us an Android App Review of Calendar Status. Pull up a chair and check out this video.
January 17, 2014 By: Will Verduzco
We first featured XDA Senior Recognized Developer Chainfire‘s Mobile ODIN app a little over two years ago. Ever since the beginning, Mobile ODIN has allowed users to flash ODIN-flashable firmwares directly from the device itself, without the need to connect to a full computer.
Over the course of the app’s various updates, Mobile ODIN has evolved considerably—both adding support for new devices, as well as gaining new abilities. Now with an update to version 4, the app has gained even more abilities, as well as compatibility with a few more devices.
The most notable feature new to version 4 relates to its ability to flash modem images. As these partitions are protected, flashing may be temperamental on certain devices. To protect against this, new code was added to detect the protection, and if enabled, skip flashing the affected partition. That said, it’s still possible to flash complete firmwares and modems via Mobile ODIN. Just now, it takes a safer approach by checking for protections that could cause issues.
Another new feature unique to version 4 is its ability to automatically reboot your phone into download mode following a Mobile ODIN flash. This is useful in case you wish to flash bootloaders, trustzone, and other partitions that are not flashed via Mobile ODIN. Using this, you can flash an Android update while preserving root thanks to EverRoot, automatically boot to download, and flash the specific partitions that were skipped.
The built-in version of SuperSU was updated to 1.89, which was created to support the latest Samsung Android 4.4 firmwares. And finally, this update brings support for various variants of the Galaxy S 4 and Galaxy Note 3.