I was running Cyanogenmod 11 (android 4.4.4) on my Samsung S3, using a SNAPSHOT from Aug, 2015 and not getting any more updates. Finally looking into why it turns out they had moved on to developing for Lolipop (5.x) so to upgrade I’d need to wipe and install from recovery. I decided to go with a Nightly build this time because life is short. Besides, recently I noticed that mobile data (LTE) no longer worked and maybe an upgrade would fix it. I usually only use wifi, but when I’m out and about and need connection someplace I’d like it to work! Also, having recently gone to 5.x (android lollipop) on my tablets I thought it was time to upgrade the S3 as well!
I use PSI, an open source desktop chat client to connect to a jabber server I run at work, and also to connect to Google Talk (aka Google Chat, Google Messenger, Google Hangouts – whatever they are calling this XMPP based instant messenging service this week). I’ve used this setup for years, PSI accepts connection to my PGP key so I can chat over encryption for conversations I wish to remain private (sending passwords or discussing finance, etc.) and still have the rest of my chats stored in gmail for searching as needed. This way I don’t need to keep a browser window open and be logged into gmail all the time just to stay connected for chat.
The wife has an older LG Optimus S (LS670) (late 2010 vintage) which she got when we first signed up for Ting.com service (phone service based on Sprint run by the Tucows folks in Canada and their pricing is great compared to the major carriers). Its an old phone as android phones go, only sporting a 600MHz ARMv6 processor, but it works. The major problem with this phone, as with all android devices is that the OEMs tend to abandon them after about a year and users never see another update (until they root and throw on a custom ROM). To add to that, the Optimus S came with an incredibly small amount of available internal memory which was mostly just wasted on useless Sprint apps which couldn’t be removed, and over time as Google’s apps grew in size (and number) it became a challenge just to keep the thing running at all. Yes we’ve discussed getting something newer but she really doesn’t want much more than basic phone functionality, and personally having used a Palm pilot for years I couldn’t see how something which is so incredibly more capable than that could possibly be less useful. I’ve been saying that I’d root the Optimus and put a custom ROM on it for a while and since we’re home for the holidays it seemed a good time.
editor’s note: I’ve updated this story many times since I first posted it. For the current status, scroll all the way to the end of the story as I’ve appended update notices to the end each time I upgraded or switched Roms.
Back in December, 2011 when I first got my ASUS Transformer TF101 it came loaded with android 3.2 (Honeycomb). The OS was pretty slick, though Honeycomb was only the first tablet-ready android so there wasn’t a lot of polish to it. Over time I accepted the various ASUS-vetted updates to the tablet and eventually got one that upgraded it to version 4.0 (ICS, or Ice Cream Sandwich). Suddenly this awesome little device became a nightmare of reboots, freezes, and crashing apps. To add to the pain, the upgrade introduced a little bug which was also present in various distributions of linux that made it impossible to connect to a specific kind of VPN (which just happened to be the one I need to use). Since then, subsequent updates (coming through ASUS) to 4.0.3 and 4.0.4 made the device more stable, but didn’t solve the problems entirely and this despite my wiping the device clean, reinstalling the latest firmware and manually installing all my apps. I was hoping that eventually ASUS would release 4.1 (Jelly Bean) which might fix all my issues, but rumours of a release in October, 2012 got pushed out to November, and more recently folks were speculating it might not come at all. ASUS has a bunch of faster transformers out now – why would they waste time supporting my old model?
This weekend I got tired of waiting and decided to install Cyanogenmod (CM). Doing so is a risk. It certainly will void the warranty (no longer a concern to me since that has expired in my case), but it also can render the device non-functional. This might not be a permanent condition, but some folks are less interested in diagnosing this kind of thing than I am and recovery might take a considerable amount of time and investigation you might not want to be bothered with. You have been warned.