I spent some time today rooting and reflashing my old G-1 so it’s jumped from stock Android 1.6 to Android 2.2. CyanogenMod is a truly impressive piece of work, with both snazzy surface polish and a lot of nice little hackerly touches like including a root console in the standard apps panel and easy access to the recovery loader. I really feel like I have control of the device now.
Which is nice, but doesn’t have a lot of practical relevance yet. My main use for the G-1 is as a fallback in case my Nexus One gets lost or stolen. Still, there was some enjoyment in learning that, yes, I can do stuff like reflashing a phone without bricking it, and swapping around SIM cards without perpetrating some egregious blunder that wipes them. Alas, I’m still not very comfortable doing risky things with hardware – I retain some emotional reflexes from thirty years ago, when zorching anything computerlike meant you’d just incurred a five-figure bill and were in deep, deep shit.
As usual in such exercises, the hard part was interpreting the instructions. The hackers who wrote them were trying very hard to be clear, but the result was a thicket of poorly-organized details. I could follow the procedure, but I had to do it almost blind; there was nothing that gave me a high-level view of the process so that I could grasp clearly why each step was necessary and why they had to happen in the order they did. As a result, for troubleshooting I absolutely had to have live help on an IRC channel.
I wish someone would write a bird’s-eye view of the smart-phone modding process. It can’t be that complicated, and I know what’s involved in writing boot loaders for general-purpose computers. Shout to my readers: has anyone done this already, or do I need to put it on my over-full to-do list?