Android 2.1 on G1

Thanks to the hard work by the Android hacking community CyanogenMod 5.0.7-test1 is now available for the G1. My phone was already running CyanogenMod (CM thus there wasn’t any need to root the device, but I did need to upgrade the SPL.

The CyanogenMod wiki has instructions that cover exactly what I wanted to accomplish: install DangerSPL and upgrade to the experimental CM 5.0.7-DS-test1.  I’ll walk through the instructions I followed with some notes.  With any type of firmware modification you’re clearly going to void any warranty you may have, and it is recommended to read through the whole procedure at least once before starting.

The prerequisites are: Rooted G1 (check) and a compatible radio (mine was  You’ll need to download 3 files: DangerSPL, GoogleApps, and the new Firmware.  Connect your phone via USB and place these files on the root of the SD Card.

You also need a recovery image.  Mine is CyanogenMod 1.4 + JF, but Amon_ra is supposed to work as well. To verify you have a recovery image that is compatible, reboot your phone and hold down the home key – this will boot the recovery image.

To check that you are NOT already running the DangerSPL, enter fastboot mode.  Reboot the phone while holding down the camera button.  You’ll see something like:


The DangerSPL will have HBOOT-1.33.2005.  To exit fastboot mode, press call (green), menu, and power (red).

Allow me to stress – these instructions are all on the CyanogenMod wiki – reproduced here only to allow me to comment, all credit goes to the CyanogenMod crew.

1) Verify that you meet BOTH the prerequisites (G1/Dream & Radio)

If you don’t know if you’re phone is rooted, then it probably isn’t.  Try google for some help. To check the radio version look at Menu->Settings->About phone->Baseband version, the radio version is the 2nd part of the version info.  Or reboot into fastboot mode to check the radio version.

2) Copy DangerSpl (, CM 5.0.x, and gapps-ds-ERE36B (& Ebi1 port if required) to the root of your sdcard. Reboot into Recovery (CM Recovery or Amon_ra Recovery both work)

The Ebi1 port is for 32a phones.  Again I’ll refer to the fastboot screen indicating we’re are a 32b phone.

3) To reboot into Recovery, restart your phone and hold down the ‘home’ key before the G1 splash appears.

4) Make a Nandroid Backup (ext not required)

Steps 3 and 4 are pretty self explanatory.

5) Flash DangerSpl ( It will install and then ask you to reboot to finish the installation, so reboot. It will then finish installing and reboot into recovery so you can flash your ROM.

This is the “scary part”.  The DangerSPL originated as Haykuro SPL, this modified SPL takes away some of the /cache and allocates it to /system and /data – effectively allowing for lager ROMs.  You shouldn’t have to do this step again, once you have the modified SPL you’re good to go for ROM changes later.

6) Flash CM 5.0.x THEN gapps-ds-ERE36B (& Ebi1 port if required); then reboot (Boot may take longer than normal) DO NOT reboot between flashing ROMs!

This is the actual installation of the CM 5.0.7-test1 firmware.  The google apps portion is split off to avoid copyright issues for the CyanogenMod crew (in theory you should really be extracting the google apps from your existing device..)

That’s basically it.  I was a bit surprised that all of my settings made it across to the other side.

For anyone upgrading, I’d suggest you also review the normal upgrade link.  If you read that page you will find the comforting note:

Note: G1 users need to have DangerSPL, the instructions there will leave you with CM 5.0.x installed, no need to follow these instructions after (unless you nandroid restore).

You may also want to review the troubleshooting section of that same page.

I happened to have the Dalvik Debug Monitor (ddms) running to capture some screenshots.  It turned out to be quite useful as the 1st boot cycle is very long.

Issues so far

I had a fair number of apps installed, and once I had the DangerSPL and the new firmware installed, I immediately starting getting low on space warnings. With only 6MB free, I was having trouble starting some applications (GTalk).

The solution was to enable apps2sd.  The easiest way for me to do this was to unmount the SD card and use my Ubuntu desktop to repartition it with GParted.  Since GParted allows for partition resizing, it was trivial to add a new ext4 partition on the end of the card.

Now you’re not done yet.  Once you put the card back and rebooted, you want to modify the setting that tells the system where to put newly downloaded apps (on the SD card).  Menu->Settings->Applications->Apps2SD. Now for each installed application we need to toggle it to the SD card as well if we want to clear out some of the internal memory.  First head to: Menu->Settings->Applications->Manage applications, then select each application and use the Move button to change it’s storage location.

There are some rough edges.  Some of the stock apps (Gallery) I had linked on my home screen.  The gallery didn’t work, until I erased the short-cut and dragged a new copy out. Wow – the gallery is one of the most improved areas I’ve noticed so far.

You do need to fix your Sync settings.  Go to: Menu->Settings->Accounts & sync settings, click on your account and adjust the sync settings.  Most of them seemed to be disabled by default.

Initially I thought: wow – this is way faster.  After a while I either got used to the improved performance, or it isn’t really that much faster.  The 2.1 features are very nice to have.  I’ve also moved from Twidroid to the official Twitter client which is only available on 2.1.


Text messaging is sort of busted.
Poor battery life (workaround and also fixed in test2)

There are other issues too, but it is pretty remarkable how usable this is for an experimental version.  For more details go visit the forum.

Life with Droid

I’ve now had the G1 for a few weeks and wanted to write a little about some of my experience so far.  Previous to getting the G1 I had started to carry my iPod Touch with me on a regular basis, I still use the iPod Touch but I can imagine living without it.

Let’s talk about some of the basics.  I wanted to carry some photos of my family around – this was super easy to do and very Linux friendly.  Simply connect the phone to the Linux machine via USB, then on the phone choose to mount as a USB device. The PC will now detect a USB drive and hook you up.  Copying photos into a sub-folder of /DCIM was all I needed to have them appear in the gallery.  To disconnect, umount on your PC first – then on the phone.  Moving music is similarly easy.

If you’re willing to “go Google” then your Gmail, Google Calendar and Google Contacts will all sync to the device. I’ve previously talked about the state of Linux address books, and the calendar situation seems to be similarly dire. Email I’m still holding out on probably more because I’m stubborn.

A few tips on configuring your Android phone.  If you want to exclusively use wifi (as I do, since I’m not using a data plan) then you’ll want fiddle with the advanced wifi menu.  You certainly want to run CyanogenMod or similar, and when you do that you’ll want to consider using the spare parts option to keep the “Home app in memory” which for me seems to improve overall responsiveness.

Moving from the iPod Touch to the G1 I gained a camera, GPS, a built in microphone and phone functionality.  In general the same types of apps are available, so you aren’t missing out on any function.  The iPod is much slicker than the G1, the browser is faster the gestures and general UI experience is more uniform. I’m still completely sold on the Android path, the ability to tinker with the device is greater and it is possible to use it with a Linux based desktop without standing on your head.

Read on for a comparison between the apps I have on my iPod Touch vs. what is on my Android phone.

Continue reading “Life with Droid”

You can run, but you can’t hide from the cloud

Excited about my new Android based phone, I wanted to get it setup with my address book.

Now, one of my criteria for a cell phone is to be able to sync my contact information with a computer.  My Nokia 6585 supported irDA and could sync with my thinkpad.  When I replaced that phone with the Nokia 5310 I was able to sync over bluetooth.  Now I need to figure out how to get the data to and from my G1.

By default, the answer with an Android handset is to use Gmail Contacts.  Android is setup to guide you down the path of full Google integration, even asking you to setup the association during the phones initial setup.  Initially I wanted to avoid this route as I run my own mail server and prefer to keep my data on servers that I own (its a hobby, I know its the hard path).  I figured it couldn’t be that hard to sync the phone to my Ubuntu desktop.

One solution that looked possible was Funabol. I may still play with this, but before I even got to the point of setting up a synchronization server I ran into the problem of moving my address book data from Windows to Linux.  The Nokia PC Suite let me store all of my contacts into the Windows Address Book, and iTunes could also sync with this so my contacts were all on my iTouch.  It should be a simple thing to take the Windows Address book and move it into Linux right?

There were two problems.

  1. Windows Address book has a death grip on your data and won’t export it into a useful format.
  2. Linux has no reasonable address book story, Evolution seems to be close – but it won’t easily import anything that Windows will export.

The solution turned out to be Google. iTunes will happily sync to Google contacts.  Evolution will also sync to Google contacts.
Setting up iTunes with your Google account is straight-forward.  You just choose Google Contacts, punch in your credentials and away you go.  As my iPod Touch had lots of contact information and my Gmail account had very little, the large scale change was detected – and I was given the choice to over-write or merge (I wanted to merge).  Once the data was in Gmail, going into the Settings on the G1 and configuring the Data synchronization for Contact information let the bits flow down to my new phone.

It turns out Google has the best Linux friendly address book, better than any of the stand-alone solutions I looked at. Today the cloud won.