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Old 08-03-2011, 08:44 PM   #1
muranternet
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Recovery Mode for Non-to-Mid-Techs and Why Everyone Needs It

This is sort of a request and sort of an explanation. I realized that almost all of my dev replies were along the lines of, "... **** would be great but we can't even try without a recovery mode." I think recovery is step zero in ANY development effort, and even if you're in the crowd that says, "My device is awesome, rah rah enTourage, I don't care about firmware tweaks or whatever," you should still care about recovery mode.

Please keep in mind I am not a super cool developer. Messing with hardware and software is a hobby. I do it to tweak devices to the point where I personally find them useful, and that includes things that improve battery life, taking away things I don't want on my devices, performance improvements, turning a NAS into a web-accessible media streamer, adding 100 port forwarding rules to my router, or making my Motorola Droid look like a PipBoy 3000 just so I can feel awesome. I void a lot of warranties, and so recovery mode is a must-have when things go bricky. Now that everyone who owns an enTourage product is also warranty-less, it should matter to you, too.

Basically, think of recovery mode as an improved factory reset. When you do a Golden Update to get back to that terrible Dingo that came with the Pocket eDGe, that's a factory reset. However, you lose most/all of your stuff, and I've seen reports that it doesn't really get rid of absolutely everything you DO want to get rid of. Plus, you now have to go back and re-install Ermine, get all your stuff back, change your home loader, etc. etc. and hope nothing terrible happens along the way.

A recovery mode manager like Clockwork Recovery gives you a bootloader that you can jump into before the OS loads, and from which you can do all sorts of things. If you've ever done multiboot under GRUB or LILO because you wanted to impress your friends with a version of Ubuntu you never use, you know what this basically looks like. Because this loads before the OS loads, if there was something that was killing your device you can get in before it ever happens. Now, if you have something like ROM Manager loaded, you can just grab the software image you had before your *cough* brother installed "Captain Malware's 3D Porn Warez RPG" and bring your device back to normal. If you save your ROM periodically, you are basically carrying around a super-easy system backup with you on the SD card, including the kernel.

If you're a developer, you must have recovery mode. When you start messing around with the kernel, bad things can happen that can cause your device to get stuck in a bootloop. Just say oops, powercycle, load the last image, and try again. Eventually you wind up with something you can offer for download to folks who can try it, without ever knowing how many times you came THIS close to wrecking your device. If you're lucky, a few might even thank you instead of complaining about something that has nothing to do with your software image. ("I can't play Captain Malware's 3D Porn Warez RPG anymore!") If you don't have recovery mode, you might just write off the project as not worth your time or the material risk, and go back to creating the 137th Bluetooth fix for the Nook Color.

If you're an end user who likes to tweak, you must have recovery mode, even more than a developer does since you might not be using ADB. If someone loads a bunch of custom kernels for you to try out, you never really know which one will play nice with your device. All CPUs are different, and two identical chips presented with the same low voltage, 7-step, 200% clock speed kernel will react very differently, and sometimes not well at all. When I played with kernels for my Droid, here's how I did it: (1) installed ROM Manager (I already had Clockwork), (2), grabbed all the kernels I wanted to try including my original kernel and some modified ones, (3) backed up my ROM just in case, (4) told ROM Manager to load the most aggressive, lowest power kernel on the list and watched my device puke on boot, (5) rebooted into Clockwork and went back to my old image, (6) repeated 4-5 until I wound up with a kernel that tested stable.* If I didn't have Clockwork Recovery, it might have been, (1) install a kernel that might work, (2) watch my device puke and buy another one, or go through hell and back with ADB to try and get my original image working, after which I never tweak again and put the device on a shelf since now I hate it.

If you're an end user who doesn't care about tweaking, you should still have recovery mode. Stuff happens, operating systems go bad, and maybe your little brother really does load warez porn games onto your devices. Wouldn't you like to have the option of rebooting while holding a button down, selecting, "Load the last backup I made before crazy stuff happened," and be done with it? It's way easier than coming to Mobileread to try and find a copy of goldenupdate.zip and going through the hell of restoring your device to its former tarnished glory over days of software hunts. And besides, those crazy developers who figure out how to control weather satellites using an e-reader are the same ones who coincidentally find ways to make your device more stable and usable. You want those guys to have recovery mode so they can come up with ways to make your life easier. You want recovery mode yourself so when someone finds a way to make the PE last for a full day on a single charge, you just need to tap a few controls to do it instead of diving into the world of #su** and ugly command line interfaces.

So please, someone figure out how to get Clockwork on this clunky thing. I'll buy you a beer. Or send a copy of that cool game I mentioned. Since you'll have Clockwork, you shouldn't have any problems installing it.

*Actually, after a few crashes I just stopped reloading the old ROM and just told Clockwork to load the next kernel in line without stopping. I heart Clockwork.

**This is not the same as the command added into the ermine build for developers, which is #fu.
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:09 PM   #2
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This is a beautiful essay :')
May I ask something completely noobish that could potentially make me look like the biggest idiot in the world? Can you just copy all of the files on the hard drive and delete/paste past in the back-ups in the case of a problem.
You don't have to be long winded, but why wouldn't that work? (more of a curiosity than suggestion)
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:41 PM   #3
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I am crying for this for ages. even prepared to offer a bounty.
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Old 08-03-2011, 09:44 PM   #4
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I like the #fu part. I really hope that Entourage rom butcher (I would not dare to call him cook) has many long nightmares every night. And nobody will ever employ him because of the job he did with this device.
Unless he changes his mind and helps the community with a recovery method.

Last edited by vicinc; 08-04-2011 at 04:59 AM.
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Old 08-03-2011, 10:28 PM   #5
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I like the #fu part. I really hope that Entourage rom butcher (I would not dare to call him cook) has many long nightmares every nigh.and nobody will ever employ him because of the job he did with this device.
Unless he changes his mind and helps the community with a recovery method.
Don't blame the engineers, it is very likely they were just doing what the "higher-ups" told them to do, there were even some hints in the update.sh given that probably shouldn't have been there, if they really wanted to screw the community they could have done a lot worse.

Also, that's one long post, too much for tonight lol, I'll check it out in the morning...
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Old 08-04-2011, 02:06 AM   #6
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I doubt it's the engineers' fault. Usually decisions about whether or not to open an architecture to customers is based on executive paranoia, even when the company is mandated by license to open their code. This is why the GPL is finally getting enforced. The downside is now large companies are getting instructions to simply not include the contentious bits of code in their newer devices/updates so they can avoid the horror of publishing source code (that maybe they didn't keep apart from their proprietary bits well enough), so instead of a clean device that uses Busybox for stability and small footprints, we get "Joe Software's MD5 Checker" that causes overflows.

It's usually either a suit who doesn't understand development or a lawyer looking to pad his hours that invokes #fu.
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Old 08-04-2011, 02:32 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by mokel22 View Post
May I ask something completely noobish that could potentially make me look like the biggest idiot in the world? Can you just copy all of the files on the hard drive and delete/paste past in the back-ups in the case of a problem.
You don't have to be long winded, but why wouldn't that work? (more of a curiosity than suggestion)
Probably, but I haven't done it. Most modern guides tell you to make a nandroid backup (via Clockwork) and copy the images somewhere safe. I haven't tried other loaders like magldr or RZ yet.

I think you'd have to ADB dump system/boot/cache, etc. etc., although I don't know if you get a usable update.zip that way. Also, enTourage messed with root/adb permissions in ermine. See jcase's post on androidpolice about it. He found the Dingo debug password, and then ermine locked it, and there was a bunch of nitty whining on the edge forums and jcase dropped all development on the device. Read the comments. It's quite sad.

ptsenter claims to be using adb successfully on ermine, so maybe he has some input. I don't know if he is successfully pushing.

I do kinda have to be long-winded. I was very bored when I made that first post. :P
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:00 AM   #8
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adb is working fine on this device. z4root is rooting the device perfectly.
adb drivers install under windows is little bit funny as you have to remove first the autodetected devices. I could only do it using usbdeview than installed perfectly by pointing to the android sdk drivers folder.
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:01 AM   #9
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pushing is working fine.
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Old 08-04-2011, 01:28 PM   #10
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I do kinda have to be long-winded. I was very bored when I made that first post. :P
I wasn't complaining about the long windedness, I just didn't want anyone to take a lot of time out of there day to explain this.
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Old 08-04-2011, 05:19 PM   #11
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I'm willing to throw in a bounty for this too, or better yet help out with the effort more directly, I'm just not too familiar with Android devices and with all the roadblocks enTourage has set up this doesn't seem like a great place to start. With that said if someone has a better idea of what they're doing and doesn't mind helping me with the first steps I'll contribute as much as I can once I have a better idea of what we're up against.
On a completely unrelated note - I recently picked up a Thrive thanks to the $100 coupon at Staples and decided that aside from the bigger screen and better Flash support I like my PE better, now if only we could get recovery working.
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Old 08-04-2011, 05:20 PM   #12
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Along these lines, I inferred that some Entourage employees used to appear in the old forums, and maybe even here. Does anyone know if any of these folks are still around and accessible?

Kirk
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:13 PM   #13
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I think they keep the heads down now that they have no power over this forum. They use to do useless things like banning people trying to help the development, alienate customers, etc. So I would bet 20 bucks that none of them will help.
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Old 08-04-2011, 07:14 PM   #14
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lets do a 300 USD bounty on elancer for getting the edge recovery. if 60 of us donate a fiver we may get somebody to do it?
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Old 08-04-2011, 08:16 PM   #15
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I think they keep the heads down now that they have no power over this forum. They use to do useless things like banning people trying to help the development, alienate customers, etc. So I would bet 20 bucks that none of them will help.
that also probably wasn't the engineers.
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