The Droid Eris and Froyo

by Aaron 30. August 2010 10:18

I bought an HTC Droid Eris at Christmas of 2009.  Some may ask, "why didn't you buy a Motorola Droid?"  Honestly, this is my first smartphone.  I knew that I wasn't going to hog wild with it.  You're talking to somebody that had a Motorola E815 followed by an LG enV2.  Over the years, I always felt that I made pretty intelligent, educated phone decisions.  This was no exception.

I bought the Droid Eris knowing that it came with an old version of Android and was later going to be updated.  I started getting pretty irritated when the update came later and later, but eventually it came.  When it did arrive OTA on my phone, I cackled maniaclly and rubbed my hands together in an evil, anticipatory way.  I now have a phone that officially supports Android 2.1.  I rule.

Seriously though, the interface just seemed a little more refined.  The icons looked a little nicer, the phone acted nicer, and I'm pretty sure I lowered my cholesterol.

Soon phones around me started getting updates to Froyo.  No, no, no.  Not this guy:

Frodo Baggins

That's "Frodo", silly.  No, Froyo is the name for Android 2.2.  It's supposedly about 10% faster than the previous point release.  It has some fancy new features.  People love it.  But I don't have it.  There's only one way for me to enjoy Froyo just like other people: hack my phone!

I'm no stranger to hacking embedded devices.  Or rather, I'm no stranger to using rooted images and then doing my own thing with them.  For example, I bought an internet appliance years ago called the Audrey.  It was a small internet appliance that allowed you to check your email, browse the web, and look at the weather.  It was a smallish touch screen appliance with a tiny keyboard, and did very little else.  Much like the Android though, there was a large community for it.

3COM Audrey

I found a site called AudreyHacking.com that had TONS of information on flashing the Audrey with what essentially amounted to a rooted image.  There were in fact, lots of images.  I even learned how to create my own, and I did.

The operating system for the Audrey was QNX.  It was a realtime system based on Unix.  I don't remember what it means to be a real-time operating system, but that's not important to the story.  The point is, I hacked the crap out of that thing.  There was an MP3 jukebox application that I downloaded the source code for.  I double-booted my PC to boot up into QNX so that I could tweak the app.  I updated it, uploaded it, and I used to use it as my MP3 player.

Also, I'm a big TiVo junky.  If you looked at the diagram from my Linux router posts, you'll notice two TiVo icons.  That's because I have two TiVos on my network: a Series 2 TiVo and a TiVo HD.  My first TiVo was a series 1 by Sony.  It was a gift from some friends.  It was fantastic.  Again, huge community for TiVo.  I hacked the Series 1 by first upgrading the hard drives with more storage than I could possibly use.  I also put TiVo Web on there, and a couple of other things.  The modem dies, so I put a network adapter into it.  If you're familiar with the series 1, there was no TiVo supported network adapter, so you'll understand that again, I had to hack it.

The Series 2 was locked down, so the most I could do was upgrade the storage on it.  Again, more storage than I can possibly use.  I decided not to hack the TiVoHD, but I've regretted that one a bit.  I bought the supported 1TB external hard drive from Western Digital.  My TiVo has been flaky ever since.  I should have cracked the shell and just put a big internal drive in it.

Enough of my trip down memory lane.  The point is, I decided to hack my Eris.  The first thing I did was read as much as I could to make sure that I could recover if I needed to.  I was getting some mixed information on what I needed to do.  I rooted my phone first.  Easy step.  I'm not sure that I needed to do it though.

Then I backed up my phone.  This is where I got really confused.  I was reading various things about backing up the phone.  I thought that I needed to use a solution named Nandroid.  I downloaded it and tried to figure out exactly what I needed to do.  I finally decided to simply try doing a "NAND Backup", which you can do from the recovery screen.  I was concerned because I didn't know if it was the right thing to do.  It was, and I'll get to that later.  If it was possible though, I should have taken a backup of my phone prior to rooting it.  Not because I feel like I need to be "unrooted", but just in case.

The next thing was to flash my phone with a Froyo ROM.  I chose the KaosFroyo ROM.  It was because I couldn't really find any other ROMs out there.  I figured this would be a good starting point though.

I rebooted my phone after flashing it.  I could tell that something changed because the splash screen said "ANDROID" instead of something HTC-related.  After it finished booting (many minutes later), I checked it out.  First thing I noticed after the initial setup stuff was the hideous wwallpaper that the developer decided to use.  Seriously, what made him stop, look at it, and say, "looks good"???

The next thing I noticed was that all of my apps were gone.  I don't know if I was suppsoed to back them up somehow and restore them, but I was a little psissed about it.  I justified it by announcing that this was "a good time to clean up my apps anyway."  I was still pissed.

I set up my email, contacts, and some of the apps that I remember having installed.  Unfortunately, when I installed the apps, it didn't pull in my previous settings, so I had to set them all up again.  Even more pissed now.

I started using the phone playing around.  I marvelled at things, but I noticed a lot of the little things I liked about my phone were gone.  The icons didn't look as nice anymore for some reason.  I didn't have the option in the power menu to set my phone to vibrate and back to regular volume.  I couldn't move email messages to other folders in the email app.  Some things crashed on me for seemingly no reason.  And where was all this speed that people raved about?  I saw somebody post that they did a benchmark and got a 410.  What the hell does that even mean???

I didn't like it.

So this morning, I decided to restore it back to the way it was.  I was concerned because I didn't know what was going to happen.  Was it going to be 2.1 again, but I'd have to download all of my apps again and reconfigure everything again???  No, that's not the case.

I did a NAND restore on my phone choosing the backup that I made.  Once it booted up, I could tell things were going my way.  My son was looking out at me over the screen lock bar.  I unlocked the phone with the same gesture and unlock pattern as before.  All of my apps were there, and everything was configured just the way I like it: my way.  I haven't had any issues, and I don't plan on ever trying that again.

Now, back to the point where I said I should have made a backup prior to rooting the phone, if possible.  My phone is rooted right now in it's current state.  Again, I'm fine with that simply because I'm a responsible user, comfortable with root access to my own devices.  But will I ever need to go back?  If so, I'm going to be going through some more work to figure out how to get rid of the root files that are on there.

My advice, if you want Froyo on your Android device, get one that officially supports it.  You'll probably be happier, and you can still root a lot of those devices granting you all the luxuries of a rooted device with Froyo.

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