September 15, 2012 By: Haroon Q. Raja
A few weeks back, we brought you a guide on extracting operating system files from the FTF firmware files of Sony Xperia devices and converting them into recovery-flashable zip files. Today, we’re presenting another way of extracting system files from ICS FTF files, in the form of a beginner-friendly tutorial.
For those unfamiliar, FTF is Sony’s proprietary firmware format for Xperia devices, similar to Samsung’s Odin-flashable tar format or Motorola’s SBF format. It is basically a package containing all the firmware files for your phone and a script to automatically flash them. Shared with us by XDA Senior Member roninnbaby, this method should work for all ICS-based FTF files for all Sony Xperia devices.
Visit the forum thread for complete guide with screenshots and detailed explanations of each step, along with download links to all the tools required for the process.
August 27, 2012 By: Former Writer
If you hang around Android development long enough, you’ll start running into file types you don’t normally deal with. While some are simply used because of user preference, others are used by OEMs as a sort of proprietary file—such as the SBFs used by Motorola. However at the end of the day, users will eventually have to learn how to deal with these files. One such file type is FTF, and it’s typically used on Sony Xperia devices. Now, users can extract FTF files and turn it into flashable zips.
While it is posted in the Xperia Mini, Mini Pro, Active and Ray forums, the method should be usable on pretty much any Sony Xperia device. Written up by XDA Forum Member Knight47, it requires a few applications—namely, FTF Extractor, 7zip, and some additional files to make it all work. Once everything is downloaded, the method is essentially simple.
In short, you unpack the system files and repack them with the proper files to make everything flashable. Namely, the kinds of files you’ll be adding are root files and the META-INF. After that, flash and be happy. This guide is potentially useful for pretty much anyone who has to deal with FTF files on a regular basis.
For the full tutorial, head to the original thread.
August 20, 2012 By: Former Writer
There are a plethora of tools out there to help themers theme. The most popular of which include ways to compile and decompile APK files and free apps like Gimp to help the actual theming process. Even so, creating a good theme takes a lot of time and effort. However, for those who have phones from the Sony Xperia 2011 lineup, there’s an application that helps create themes for you.
XDA Forum Member Snndev has released an application that themes ROMs for most Sony Xperia 2011 devices. It is pretty simple to use, as users just download and extract the application. From there it’s ready to use. The way it works is it detects your XTF path to determine which Xperia device you have. From there, it creates a theme. Simply install the theme and you’re ready to go. The current features include:
Generate Flashable Zip
Preview Before Compile
Save XTF Path location
Compatible with other models
There are some drawbacks to XThemer. It doesn’t support custom themes, but rather has themes built into the application that users choose and assemble. While this may seem restrictive, anyone who simply wants a color change from the stock ROM will find this application to be all they really need. To learn more, head over to the original thread.
July 24, 2012 By: Former Writer
It’s always exciting when AOKP, CyanogenMod, or any other AOSP-based build is released for a device. It gives users the ability to check out a largely pure Android, no matter what OEM skin the device may natively run. Many people prefer the vanilla Android experience. Various Sony Xperia devices have AOSP and CM builds, but the popular AOKP builds have been conspicuously absent. That isn’t true any longer, however, as 16 Sony Xperia devices can now have AOKP.
Posted by XDA Recognized Contributor championswimmer and maintained by the KangXperiaProject group, there are now device and vendor trees available for 16 Sony Xperia devices. Not only does this bring new ROM options to the 2011 Sony Xperia line up, but also the source code to compile them. The current list of supported devices include:
Live with Walkman aokp_coconut-userdebug
Mini Pro aokp_mango-userdebug
X10 MiniPro aokp_robyn-userdebug
X10 Mini aokp_mimmi-userdebug
Within the launch thread, users and devs will find a wealth of information. There are links to each ROM released by the group itself that users of the devices can install right now. Additionally, the KangXperiaProject has posted the source for all of the devices for use by ROM developers. For those who don’t know how to do it, the group has also posted a step-by-step tutorial for Linux users on how to download and install the repos and compile the ROMs.
To learn more, head over to the original thread.
Sony’s Xperia devices are hugely popular and have a pretty substantial amount of developer support here on XDA. Of course if you intend to start flashing any of the available custom ROMs and kernels, you will need a custom recovery.
Cue XDA Forum Member LEDelete and his tool, RecoverX. RecoverX is a tool for Windows that allows you to install a custom recovery on any Xperia device quickly and easily. In the words of LEDelete:
You just have to launch RecoverX, enter “install” and select your device, the recovery you want to install and RecoverX does the rest, it’s that simple.
This is useful for those who may be new to flashing, and are unsure of which recovery image to use and the relevant installation procedure. Obviously it’s always still a good idea to learn how to do these things manually, but who doesn’t like to make things easy once in a while?
The tool is currently capable of installing CWM 188.8.131.52, CWM 184.108.40.206 (for X8), and xRecovery (for X8). The developer states that if you would like to see a recovery of your choice made compatible with the RecoverX, he’d be happy to hear from you and see what he can do.
If you have an Xperia device that’s crying out for a custom recovery, head on over to the original forum thread.
Update – Links now fixed, sorry about that folks.
Unlocking bootloaders has been a daunting task for nearly all devices over the last 6 months. With some methods going so far as to bricking the device intentionally, it’s become apparent that users will do whatever is required to shuck off the shackles of a locked bootloader. Now, most of the Sony Xperia 2011 line up can have their bootloaders unlocked using a new method known as the Test Point method.
The tutorial is written by XDA Senior Member DragonClawsAreSharp, and requires quite a bit of work on the part of the user. Not only is there a software component, but there’s also a hardware component—making it somewhat similar to the Juopunutbear S-Off method for HTC phones.
Despite the step-by-step process being accompanied by fully legible screen shots, it’s still pretty difficult. Users will run through a long winded process that starts with checking to be sure that the bootloader can be unlocked, then touching a wire to a test point in the phone behind the battery (sound familiar, HTC users?), and finally through the software process of unlocking the bootloader. Despite the complicated instructions, the process is actually not as scary as it may sound to users unfamiliar with hardware operations. Users attempting this method should still err on the side of caution, but it is not as dangerous as it is intimidating.
One thing to note is that this only works on certain devices. Under Service Info, users can check to see if their bootloader can be unlocked. For additional information, check out the original thread.
June 22, 2012 By: mustangtim49
Most XDA forum members know the benefits of rooting. In fact, it’s the main reason many of us originally joined. Rooting allows users to modify devices in ways not possible without acquiring superuser permissions.
For those who happen to own an MDPI Sony Xperia device, XDA Senior Member draco_ag has a cool and practical mod. The modification gives users reboot options in the Power Menu dialogue and also a Quick Panel in notification area with 15 working toggles. There are also some other mods that come with this package such as a modified call screen. Other features include a new black keyboard to better suit the ICS color scheme and 1% battery mod in status bar.
If you have a rooted MDPI Xperia and are looking for some useful minor mods, head over to the original thread.
One of the first things most rooted device owners do is create a Nandroid backup. For those who are unfamiliar, a Nandroid is essentially a snapshot of every partition on your device. It is one of those essential tools for anyone, as it allows you to restore to a setup that you know works in the event that something bad happens.
An inherent difficulty with Nandroid backups, though, is keeping them updated. Too many times a user restores a Nandroid and forgets that he created it before applying a theme or downloading additional applications. The missing apps must be re-downloaded or updated. Then, there is the all of the missing application data created between the backup and restore dates. Sony Xperia users now have what could be one of the coolest backup tools of all time. XDA Forum Member ameer1234567890 has released a method to create live Nandroid backups with the phone still booted into Android. Says ameer1234567890:
Nandroid backups are usually performed in recovery mode. This means you would have to turn off your phone and reboot in recovery mode, which wastes a whole lot of time rebooting and a lot more time offline. For me, this has been a killer as I do regular nandroid backups. Having to reboot in recovery and finding missed calls, sms from my wife and friends is totally not accepatable for me. So, I set to develop an online nandroid backup tool which can do nandroid backups without switching off my phone.
Users simply need to download the most recent version and flash in a custom recovery. From there, they install BusyBox if it is not installed already, open up Terminal Emulator, and type in one very simple command. And just like that, the Nandroid backup is created without missing a phone call or text message.
Xperia users looking to get started should head over to the original thread and get backed up!
April 15, 2012 By: Former Writer
Ice Cream Sandwich has been on every Android fan’s mind since it was announced back in 2011. That’s when the usual questions started forming: Which Android devices would be updated and when? Will CyanogenMod 9 come to my device? Most of those questions have been answered by now thanks to third-party developer support, leaked ROMs, and update roadmaps. However, not all the devices are getting the ICS love, at least not yet.
Although we recently reported Sony had begun rolling out ICS for its 2011 Xperia lineup, the update hasn’t yet reached all device owners. XDA Forum Member iiandskater has created a mod that themes the settings menu on Gingebread ROMs to match the style and feel of the ICS settings menu. While it isn’t perfect, it certainly looks cool and seems to work pretty well.
The mod is delivered in update.zip format and can be flashed in a custom recovery. With such an easy installation method, it’s hard not to take advantage of the awesome. However, this is a first release, which means there’s a few bugs. For example, Voice Input will force close, a couple of menu items take users to the same location, and there is no data usage menu. However, iiandskater states that future releases will squash bugs and include the data usage menu as well.
Visit the modification thread for the downloads, screen shots, and an exorbitant amount of smiley faces. Be sure to back up your settings.apk first, just in case you want to switch back to the original settings menu.