May 18, 2012 By: egzthunder1
Since the latest leaks for the Samsung Galaxy S2 line up have been hitting us left and right, people have been jumping between ROMs—mainly between buggy, pre-release ICS builds and very stable GB. This is, after all, what we do on XDA as a habit: We see a leak, we flash it, we use it, and we tweak it. If it doesn’t fly, we simply roll back. Of course, there is always an inherent risk in flashing stuff that should not be on your device in the first place, but the risk of fully bricking a device in this day and age is rather small. Especially, since there are tools available to bring your devices back from the dead, such as UnBrickable Mod by XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler.
Having said this, not everything seems to be fine in the world of leaks. Thanks to XDA Elite Recognized Developer Entropy512, we have learned that most devices that are receiving leaks are at a very high risk of never waking up after a flash. It turns out that there is a major bug in the leaked ICS kernel that affects the /data partition in the eMMC chip, which apparently gets corrupted during certain operations such as wiping and flashing. This was originally believed to be affecting only operations performed in custom recoveries such as CWM. However, there have been reports of hard bricks being produced from the flashing from stock recoveries as well. The affected devices are:
Entropy and other devs have posted several warnings scattered throughout the site, in which they explain in detail what is happening. Our suggestion is that users should stay away from flashing ICS from leaks until the bug in the kernel has been completely fixed—unless of course, you are looking to hard brick your device. Remember, this is not something that can be resurrected via Unbrickable Mod or even via JTAG, as this is a firmware error in the eMMC. This is directly from Entropy himself for those of you interested in a bit more detail:
DANGER: Many Samsung ICS leak kernels may damage your device!
Those who pay attention to goings-on with various Samsung devices may have noticed that some devices are experiencing a large quantity of hardbricks when ICS leaked kernels are used. These hardbricks are particularly nasty, in that vendors of JTAG services have been unable to resurrect these devices, unlike simple bootloader-corruption hardbricks. This is due to the fact that these kernels are actually managing to cause what appears to be permanent damage to the eMMC storage device.
Kernels that are confirmed affected are:
[*]All Epic 4G Touch (SPH-D710) ICS leaks[*]All Galaxy Note (GT-N7000) ICS leaks[*]The AT&T Galaxy S II (SGH-I777) UCLD3 leak – and probably all others[*]Korean SHW-M250S/K/L official releases and any kernel built from their source
Kernels that SHOULD be safe are:
[*]GT-I9100 ICS leaks[*]GT-I9100 official releases[*]Kernels built off of the GT-I9100 Update4 source base
Operations that are likely to cause damage when running an affected kernel:
Wiping in CWM (and likely any other custom recovery) (confirmed)
Restoring a Nandroid backup in CWM (wipes first)
Flashing another firmware in CWM (most flashes wipe first)
Wiping in stock 3e recovery (suspected, also wipes a partition)
Deleting large files when running an affected kernel (suspected but not confirmed)
If you have an affected kernel:
Flash a known good kernel using Odin/Heimdall immediately. Do NOT use Mobile Odin, CWM, or any on-device method to flash. Known good kernels include:
[*]Nearly any Gingerbread kernel[*]ICS kernels built from the GT-I9100 Update4 source code
The root cause of this issue has yet to be determined, however, numerous Recognized Developers in XDA suspect it is due to Samsung enabling a feature in the affected kernels, MMC_CAP_ERASE – This is a performance feature that can greatly increase flash write performance, but appears to bring out a flaw in the flash chipset. GT-I9100 ICS kernels do not have this feature enabled and appear safe. However, not enough is known to declare all kernels without this feature safe – the only entity that can confirm the root cause of this problem and declare it fixed without taking great risk (destroying multiple devices with no way to repair them) is Samsung themselves.
In general, until further notice, if you are running a Samsung ICS leak for any Exynos-based device other than the GT-I9100, it is strongly advised to flash something else.
And this just showed up this morning in our forums as well, courtesy of XDA member garwynn. Apparently, Google has been contacted and they are aware of the issue, and one engineer is hoping to work towards a fix.
Well, it’s been some time but thankfully Mr. Sumrall from Android did get back to us on our questions. I think the community will find that this was worth the wait.Issue: fwrev not set properly.
As we suspected the bugfix is not in our build. (The patch applies this unconditionally.)Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken SumrallThe patch includes a line in mmc.c setting fwrev to the rights bits from the cid register. Before this patch, the file /sys/class/block/mmcblk0/device/fwrev was not initialized from the CID for emmc devices rev 4 and greater, and thus showed zero.(On second inquiry)
fwrev is zero until the patch is applied.
Question: Revision didn’t match the fix
(Emphasis mine in red as it discusses the superbrick issue.)Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken SumrallYou probably have the bug, but rev 0x19 was a previous version of the firmware we had in our prototype devices, but we found it had another bug that if you issued an mmc erase command, it could screw up the data structures in the chip and lead to the device locking up until it was powered cycled. We discovered this when many of our developers were doing a fastboot erase userdata while we were developing ICS. So Samsung fixed the problem and moved to firmware revision 0x25.Yes, it is very annoying that 0x19 is decimal 25, and that led to lots of confusion when trying to diagnose emmc firmware issues. I finally learned to _ALWAYS_ refer to emmc version in hexadecimal, and precede the number with 0x just to be unambiguous.However, even though 0x19 probably has the bug that can insert 32 Kbytes of zeros into the flash, you can’t use this patch on devices with firmware revision 0x19. This patch does a very specific hack to two bytes of code in the revision 0x25 firmware, and the patch most likely will not work on 0x19, and will probably cause the chip to malfunction at best, and lose data at worst. There is a reason the selection criteria are so strict for applying this patch to the emmc firmware.I passed on our results a few days later mentioning that the file system didn’t corrupt until the wipe. This is a response to that follow-up.As I mentioned in the previous post, firmware rev 0x19 has a bug where the emmc chip can lockup after an erase command is given. Not every time, but often enough. Usually, the device can reboot after this, but then lockup during the boot process. Very rarely, it can lockup even before fastboot is loaded. Your tester was unlucky. Since you can’t even start fastboot, the device is probably bricked. If he could run fastboot, then the device could probably be recovered with the firmware update code I have, assuming I can share it. I’ll ask.
Question: Why the /data partition?Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Sumrall (Android SE)Because /data is the place the chip that experiences the most write activity. /system is never written to (except during an system update) and /cache is rarely used (mostly to receiving OTAs).
Question: Why JTAG won’t work?Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken SumrallAs I mention above, the revision 0x19 firmware had a bug that after an emmc erase command, it could leave the internal data structures of the emmc chip in a bad state that cause the chip to lock up when a particular sector was accessed. The only fix was to wipe the chip, and update the firmware. I have code to do that, but I don’t know if I can share it. I’ll ask.
Question: Can a corrupted file system be repaired (on the eMMC)?Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Sumralle2fsck can repair the filesystem, but often the 32 Kbytes were inserted at the start of a block group, which erased many inodes, and thus running e2fsck would often result in many files getting lost.
So, while the fix doesn’t apply to us at the moment, we’ve been given a great insight into the superbrick issue as well as information that a fix is already developed (hopefully we’ll see it released!). The bug likely applies to us and assuming the fix for the 0x19 firmware is given then it would apply to our devices.
On a lighter note, I wanted to include his close:Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken SumrallYou are getting a glimpse into the exciting life of an Android kernel developer. Turns out the job is mostly fighting with buggy hardware. At least, it seems that way sometimes.
Please stay clear from flashing anything ICS onto your devices until this has been solved.
Want something published in the Portal? Contact any News Writer.
[Thanks Entropy512 for all your hard work!!!!]
While mounting NTFS may not be the first feature users line up for when buying an Android phone, it can certainly be useful at times. For those out there who may be thinking of mounting an NTFS USB key or hard drive to their Android devices, you actually now have an app for that.
XDA Forum Member Kwull has release NTFS Mounter that does what it says and automatically mounts NTFS drives when plugged in. Currently, the app is known to support the Samsung Galaxy S II I9100, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 2, and the International Galaxy Note. However, to work on these devices, the user must be running a rooted ICS ROM with a kernel that has the fuse driver. For people who don’t feel like looking, you can use the CF-Root Kernel by XDA Elite Recognized Developer Chainfire on the Galaxy S II. Says Kwull:
2. The app installs ntfs-3g if it does not exist in the system
3. App receives MEDIA_NOFS event and tries to mount all unmounted /dev/sdXXX devices as NTFS volumes
4. Does not mount NTFS formated SD card, yet
One of the most interesting planned features is to one day allow users to format their external SD cards using NTFS. This will eliminate the low file size limit in FAT32, and may even help performance in certain cases.
To get started, visit the original thread.
As the new versions of Android keep on coming, so do newer versions of OEM software and skins. With HTC’s release of Sense 4.0 and Motorola always tinkering with the Motoblur software, it’s only natural for Samsung to follow up with a newer iteration of what could be their best yet, TouchWiz 4.5.
Most Samsung devices, however, don’t come equipped with 4.5 out of the box, and many users would like to experience it on their own devices. For those running the AT&T Samsung Galaxy S II SGH-I777, you not only have the ability to run TouchWiz 4.5, but now you can run it on a variety of ROMs.
XDA Senior Member crazyagg has been maintaining a thread that features a number of stock apk files from TouchWiz 4.5 builds for users to install and use to experience. While there are a few apk files there to download separately, the full ICS apk zip file has over 60 ICS apks from TouchWiz 4.5, and users can basically pick and choose any or all parts of 4.5 to install.
While the complete package zip is not recovery-flashable, all the pieces are there for those wishing to use them as a base for development or to simply try out 4.5. If 4.5 doesn’t tickle your fancy, crazyagg has also uploaded the stock apks for anyone who needs to revert.
For additional information, the download links, instructions and more, hit up the original thread.
May 6, 2012 By: Former Writer
Users and developers alike are still getting used to Ice Cream Sandwich. And while the adaptation period has taken a little longer than with prior versions of Android, progress is being made in getting used to the new OS and its new tools. Developers and themers alike often have to compile and decompile apk files in order to apply their themes and modifications. However, many have had issues decompiling Samsung ICS system apk files.
Luckily, those working on the Samsung Galaxy S II I9100 now have a modified version of APKTool. XDA Forum Member xtremesv found and tested a modified version that is capable of editing the Galaxy S II system.apk file and similar files, which have been the bane of many themers and modders. The functionality and usability of APKTool hasn’t been changed much, but has been expanded to allow users to work with these difficult files a little bit more easily. Says xtremesv:
Some people are still having problems de/compiling system apks on Samsung ICS builds, most of the errors arising are related to “bad magic values”. I googled a little and managed to find a modded Apktool. I’ve tested it and it has worked fine so far with many apks (e.g. framework-res, TouchWiz30Launcher, etc).
That’s not all though. Some apk files require a little special attention. So if the modified APKTool doesn’t decompile an app, you may have to decompile it with the original APKTool provided by xtremesv, and then recompile using the modified APK Tool. A little complicated? Yes. Does it work? You betcha. Additionally, since the modified APKTool wasn’t designed specifically for the Galaxy S II, any users having difficulties with ICS apks may want to give it a shot as well.
If you’re having problems with ICS apk files and are looking for solutions, check out the original thread for more details.
While many folks seem to enjoy the MIUI look and feel, not everyone wishes to run the actual ROM itself. Often times, users end up going back to the ROMs designed more specifically for their phones. However, some end up missing the look and feel of MIUI. These problems have been eased by porting the MIUI Music Player and a root-enabled version of its File Explorer, but overall device look and feel is most heavily influenced by the launcher.
For users of the Samsung Galaxy S II, you can now have the MIUI look and experience without actually running MIUI thanks to XDA Senior Member ZACQ8, who brings the launcher from MIUI’s official website to devices running TouchWiz-based ICS ROMs.
The mod itself, which is an easy to install .apk, brings the MIUI launcher to the stock TouchWiz experience by giving users the MIUI Control Panel, from which users can opt to use the MIUI Launcher and even a few other fun settings. Once set, you’re good to go, and any MIUI themes you have downloaded will be usable.
The only issue? Well, it’s not a permanent setting and you will have to go back and set it after every reboot. For most, that’s no big deal. While it was originally meant for Galaxy S II, it’s not impossible to believe that this may work other ICS TouchWiz ROM. Since it’s just an .apk, there shouldn’t be any real danger in attempting it on other ICS TouchWiz devices to see if it works for you as well.
If it’s the MIUI experience you want without the MIUI ROM, check out the launcher thread to get started.
While many members come to XDA to flash the latest and greatest ROMs and kernels, and perhaps find a cool mod or theme, there are some members who enjoy living on the bleeding edge of development who flash just about anything from experimental leaks to radios from other devices. Of course, keeping up with all this development work means dealing with some unscheduled issues and bugs as well. While no one likes bugs, they’re kind of like puberty—eventually, it happens to everyone.
Of course, with every bug comes a fix and for those on the AT&T Samsung Skyrocket who have experimented with the a Samsung Galaxy Note radios, you may have run into a few problems that can now be fixed using not one, but three methods in a thread posted by XDA Senior Member icenight89.
The first method runs the user through manually replacing a file that would normally fix the problems. It isn’t very difficult, and really only requires users to flash back to Android 2.3.5 and a root file explorer to use, and then flashing an ICS ROM to complete. The second method runs users through a computer-connected method where ADB is used to push the proper file—called keystr—back onto the device. The third method is for when 1 and 2 don’t work, and comes in the form of a flashable update.zip file that puts the file back for you. In all instances, however, the first step is removing the Galaxy Note radio, and getting back onto the firmware intended for the Skyrocket. Apparently, the radio for the Galaxy Note has a tendency to do all sorts of things to the Skyrocket, such bypassing the lock screen and /efs corruption.
For more information on the bugs and how to fix them, visit the original thread.
April 17, 2012 By: Former Writer
Kernels are wondrous and, for many, mysterious pieces of software to install. By just changing the kernel, users can have access to overclocking, battery saving, undervolting, a number of schedulers, and other fun features. If a kernel is messed up, it can affect anything from the battery life and camera functionality, even down to WiFi not being able to connect with incompatible or broken modules. Kernels are very important, but in most cases, unless you’re the kernel dev, there aren’t really many ways to access and tweak the settings of the kernel. Until now, that is.
Bringing even more good news to SGS2 owners, XDA Senior Member xan and XDA Elite Recognized Developer gokhanmoral bring an application that will gives Samsung Galaxy S II I9100 users the opportunity to see and change kernel functions to their liking. Unfortunately, users need a supported kernel to use this, but the developers have provided the documentation to gain support from kernel devs and thus give end users more kernel control than they have ever had. With the Apache Licensing giving regular developers the opportunity to make their own applications based on the app, pretty much any and all developers can get on the action.
The application is shaping to offer great functionality, such as the ability to modify things such as GPU frequency. The application is still in beta, however, so there are even more features to come. That said, this is an awesome application already and any future releases will only add even more functionality.
For additional information, screen shots, download links and more, check out the development thread.
April 17, 2012 By: jerdog
The Samsung Galaxy S2 GT-i9100 was one of the most celebrated phones of 2011 and is still very highly regarded today, with over 10 million units sold. While many of the owners of this device have been happy, they’ve been eagerly awaiting the official update to Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich.
Samsung has been gradually rolling out these updates, but previously this has only gone to carrier-branded phones. Now Samsung UK lets us know that they have been working extremely hard at getting the update out to all of their devices, including those purchased unlocked:
Samsung UK has been working as hard as possible over the last few weeks to get Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) rolled out to all our Galaxy S II customers. We can confirm that ‘XEU/sim-free’ and all network upgrades are now complete except for Orange and T-Mobile which will follow as soon as possible, pending software testing and approvals. Thanks again for your patience.
This is certainly good news. If you would like to learn more, head over to the discussion thread.
April 16, 2012 By: Former Writer
Android development can be a tough hobby to jump into sometimes. While some Android devices have a number of guides telling users how to do everything from theming to ROM building to kernel development, there are other devices that just don’t have that kind of support for aspiring new developers. Thankfully, the gaps are being filled by those who have the patience to teach. Now, aspiring developers for the Samsung Galaxy S II I9100 can get in on the fun as well thanks to XDA Senior Member superatmos, who has begun writing guides on a number of development topics from ROM building to kernel compiling.
The guide is a work-in-progress, but there are already a couple of great tutorials to get new devs started. The second post in the thread guides users through completely deodexing a ROM, which opens it up for themes and further modifications. The following post runs the full gamut of compiling a kernel from setting up the toolchain and getting the kernel and initramfs ready for compiling, all the way down to the actual compiling process. The only part currently missing from the trifecta is ROM building, but superatmos says it is coming soon.
Additionally, users are already asking questions and doing some experimenting of their own, such as attempting to deodex ICS .APKs. Even if you only show up for the first few posts, it’s worth reading through the whole thread just to learn from other users’ experiments and mistakes. For additional information, the full guides and more, check out the development thread. As always, be sure to make a backup before testing anything you make.
April 15, 2012 By: Former Writer
One of the most irritating things about the Google Play Store, is trying to install an application, only to be thrown back by things like country restrictions. Granted, some apps wouldn’t work in some countries anyway, but there’s quite a few out there that have nothing to do with your geological location, which would work perfectly fine if downloaded.
This is a problem that XDA Senior Member Deeco7 is looking to solve with a modified Google Play Store .APK which, among other things, removes country restrictions. This allows anyone, anywhere to download what they want—as long as their phone is compatible, that is.
The mod, which is posted in the Samsung Galaxy S II I9100 forums, has had mixed reviews so far. For many users, the modified Play Store works just fine but many others are experiencing minor bugs. XDA Senior Member xinfinityoO has released a 2nd modified Google Play Store apk for users to try out, which has also had mixed success. Deeco7 has been diligent in updating and attempting to fix such problems, and only time will tell if all the errors can be fixed. Currently, the .APK is based on the latest version (v3.5.16) and Deeco7 has fixed a few bugs already. The best way to avoid these bugs is to follow the installation instructions provided and to check out the thread to see how other users have troubleshooted the issues.
For additional information, screen shots and download links for both xinfinityoO’s version and Deeco7’s version, check out the original thread. Be sure to make a backup of your Vending.apk before attempting, so you can restore if needed.
This Week in Development, new comer Jordan covers all the exciting stories you need to know from the XDA-Developers forum. In addition to Android’s possibly inadvertent fail, he covers ROMs for the Samsung Galaxy Note and HTC One X, and HTC One V ROMs being ported to the Desire S and Desire HD. Jordan mentions the addition of a forum for the HTC One V. Additionally, XDA Elite Recognized Developer AdamOutler‘s CASUAL and Shelr articles are discussed. The strangely addictive Crazy Birds game and an Android VNC are covered, along with the accelerometer fix for the T-Mobile Galaxy SII
Check out the video below.
April 12, 2012 By: Former Writer
There is nothing quite like the feeling of knowing that one of your creations is universally appreciated and instantly popular. These are feats that pop stars like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber can’t even manage to accomplish, as they are disliked worldwide by everyone over 25 and even many of the younger generation. However here on XDA, there are those releases that are universally loved and highly anticipated. And surprisingly, they’re not always a hit ROM or a root process.
For the T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S II, that release was an accelerometer fix. XDA Forum Member yaldak has released the accelerometer fix for the T-Mo SGS II, fixing accelerometer functionality in ROMs derived from the leaked ICS build. The fix takes place deep within the system down at the driver level. Says yaldak:
Specifically, this fixes the accelerometer issue altogether. Its a deep fix, going down to the driver level. So games and camera work too.
This should work on all ICS leak-derivative ROMs, including my own (and will be baked into my upcoming release).
Long story short, this was made possible due to the ATT Galaxy Note leak (a cousin of the T989)
In theory we can now start pushing out functional ICS ROMs. But there is still the pesky call echo issue, looking into that.
This is great news, as it fixes one of the two major problems that ICS ROMs have apparently been having for a long time. The user response response thus far has been very impressive. With yaldak looking into the call echo issue, the T-Mo SGS II could very well have bug free ICS in the very near future. Exciting.
Additional information, download links, and instructions can be found in the modification thread. Based on the 200 thanks yaldak has gotten in the first 14 hours of this mod’s release—not joking—you can pretty much assume it’s safe.
April 12, 2012 By: Former Writer
There’s comes a point in the development of every device that users and devs alike will start rooting through their device—pun intended—and find and modify previously unknown files. Often times, these uncovered files don’t do much at all, but occasionally a diamond in the rough is found and brings some real benefits.
This is the case for the Samsung Galaxy S II I9100. XDA Senior Member Crescendo Xenomorph has stumbled across sirfgps.config within the system files that seems to have some bearing on GPS. The interesting part is, none of the current GPS enhancement mods even touch this file. Testing is still being conducted, but preliminary results show that modifying the SiRF file may yield faster and more accurate GPS locks.
Results are still mixed, and users are still trying out the various variables and seeing what each one does, but the progress and testing support from the Galaxy S II community has been nothing short of impressive. While no users have reported that their houses burned down or phones exploded, there are a few who aren’t getting the results they wish out of their modding and testing.
For additional information, check out the original thread. You’ll need to read through the whole thread, as the download links, what others have modified, and most of the information is spread out over the course of many pages. As usual, be sure to make a backup before attempting to modify this, just in case you need to restore it to stock values.