Gingerbread, Ice Cream Sanwich, Cyannogenmod 8/9 etc..

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  1. carr

    carr Active Member

    I am getting my first Android phone, an Atrix 4G in a few days, used, rooted and unlocked. I have rooted phones before but before Android, back in the Rokkr era when that Motorola platform had a pretty rudimentary version of Linux running on it. I also am a heavy Linux/Unix user outside of the smartphone world.

    All having been said I am a newcomer to Android and smartphones. So I have a basic question-- to try to help me understand exactly what passes-and I am going to ask this from a necessarily Linux point of view...

    When we talk about different versions i.e. Ice Cream, Gingerbread&c.... are we talking about a different desktop--like Gnome, KDE and so forth in Linux-- or are we talking about a completely different version of the operating system with not only the desktop(or user environment) but also a different kernel, different /dev files, different device drivers &c?

    I obviously have a lot of learning to do and I have spent a lot of time in the last few days reading here since I am going to have an Atrix 4G but elsewhere as well--while I can see a lot of similarities to Linux and Unix I can also see a lot of differences as well--and dont want to end up bricking my phone.

    Thanks to everyone here for an excellent forum. I ve been reading threads and learning a lot but have a long way to go.


  2. chrisphoenix7

    chrisphoenix7 Well-Known Member

    Gingerbread and icecreamsandwich are different versions, like windows vista and xp. Cyanogen is a modded system. Each manufacturerhas an interface, I.e. touchwiz, sense, blur. Cyanogenmod is justlike that. Android witha different interface.
    carr likes this.
  3. carr

    carr Active Member


    Many thanks for the interest and explanation. I want to try to understand as much as is possible what I am doing before the phone gets here.

  4. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    To expand on what Chris was saying...

    Google decided to go with desert names for the builds of Android. Think of how Unbutu does with their Linux builds... Gusty Gibbon, Feisty Fawn...

    You can see the list here: Android version history - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    They started this with Cupcake (1.5), then Donut (1.6), then Eclair (2.0/2.1), then FroYo (2.2), then Gingerbread (2.3).

    They divided the OS into a tablet version called HoneyComb (3.0), but that caused a lot of confusion (Think back to when you had Windows 98 on personal computers and NT 4 on Corporate systems). So, with the new OS build they just launched, they are merging them back together. This is Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0).

    Since you've used Linux for years, you'll find yourself at home. Android is just Linux in your hand. In fact, one of the first app's I'll recommend to you is called "Elixir2" - it's free in the market. It's the ultimate system info app. In there, you will even find that we are running Linux Kernel


    Here's a little more to read up on: Android (operating system) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Motoblur is a launcher (Like Launcher Pro, my favorite)... Launchers are going to be like KDE or GNOME.

    CyanogenMod is a custom built ROM (Version of the OS). You will find that, on Android, like Linux, there are different builds of the OS. CyanogenMod would be to Android what Unbutu is to Linux... A custom developed version. I would say the stock ROM would be like Red Hat.
    james27007 and carr like this.
  5. carr

    carr Active Member

    Wolfman Robby

    Thanks for the clarification very much. I am looking forward to having an Atrix to play with.

    Much appreciate it and the support I am finding here. My currentl phone is a Nokia Xpress Music 5800 that runs Symbios. I thought about rooting that one and decided against it because of non familiarity with that IS and a lack of support. The amount of support for Android is amazing to me. OS Rules!!

    I do have one question off the subject. How does one tell, hands on the phone whether the phone is an Atrix, Atrix 4 G or Atrix 2??

  6. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    The "Atrix" and "Atrix 4G" are the same phone. It's the model number MB860. Some people just get lazy and don't put the 4G part on there. Other's are like me and just refuse to accept any of these 3.5G techs (HSDPA, LTE or WiMax) as 4G.

    The Atrix 2 just came out last week and is slightly larger. It also does not have the fingerprint scanner on the back (A dead giveaway).
    carr likes this.
  7. carr

    carr Active Member


    Thanks for the info. Thought I would be completing an online transaction for an Atrix and have it in a few days. It fell thru due to some things on the sellers end. Found here locally (Mobile Al). a 4 month old Atrix 4G via Craigs List, met the guy last night and paid $180 for it with an otter box case and charger. Rooted it after I got home. Phenomenal piece of hardware !

    Got to find another ROM for it, has the standard AT&T ware on it, bloat bloat bloat -- everything on the phone wants to call home all the time. I dont like that from a security standpoint. Plus need to investigate some rescue tools in case the ROM'ing doesnt go as planned. Used Petes root program from this site, rooting was dead easy. I wont tell you how long it took me to figure out where the trashcan was but thats another story. This is my first Android phone. I think its running Gingerbread if thats whatever the current stable release is.

    Interesting. I am 60 years old and still pretty fluent in some things but jesus this is a dual core PHONE! LOL. Amazing on everything except battery life but I plan to kill a lot of procs and improve that.

    Any recommendations or comments please feel free. I am creating thread drift here !

    Regards and thanks again
  8. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    Well, all that AT&T has to do with the OS is they test it, certify it works, and have their logo's and boot animation. All of that BLOAT is from Motorola and part of the MotoBlur.

    The "Calling home" is something you REALLY will have to get used to. That's GOOGLE causing that. Remember, this is THEIR OS, and everything is linked to your Google account. This has been my biggest bone with Android, and a big privacy concern. But, no matter what ROM you use, if you load up the Google apps, it's going to phone home.

    Don't load the Google apps and you pretty much neuter the phone.

    EDIT - You will be surprised just how many app's insist on "Phoning home" constantly.

    Honestly, the best thing to do is "UN-Root" it, run the stock OS, disable MotoBlur and add a 3rd party launcher (Like Launcher Pro). - This is how my phone is and I have ZERO problems with it!

    Because, as long as it's rooted, and if you load another ROM (modify the boot loader), you can NEVER load a stock OS ROM on it again.

    As a systems admin for over 20 years, I will tell you that my advice is that NO ONE should ROOT a phone. It's just like Running ROOT on Linux (or Administrator on a Windows PC). Any malware that gets on the phone or any website exploits will run with that ROOT level rights. Think of all of your personal info on that phone that could be compromised/stolen/wiped out.

    My PERSONAL opinion is only a fool runs their phone as ROOT. Just like only a fool runs their web server as ROOT/Admin.

    Battery life sucks on Android and killing processes actually makes it WORSE. Because, many of those are needed services that the phone has to re-start. And, in some cases, I've seen processes freak out because a dependent process was "frozen" by the user. This put it into a loop trying to start that other process, overheating the phone and killing the battery in about an hour.

    Since this is your first Android phone, I would suggest that you keep it as stock as you can. Then, pick up an el-cheapo phone (Used on eBay?) for under $100 that can be your test/learning phone. It doesn't even have to be another Atrix, as the basics of Android are all the same across the platforms.

    It's your thread, take it in any direction YOU want. :cool:
    carr likes this.
  9. carr

    carr Active Member

    Jesus thats unreal---- so when you root the phone then your user account is "root". Thats damn horrible because as we both know no one and I mean NO ONE would run any type of OS in anything other than a limited user account for day to day use.

    So see this brings to mind something entirely different (drifting threads again) and I might add why I decided to dig out an old P4 desktop that had been sitting in a closet and load BSD on it a couple of weeks ago......the fact that-- with the proliferation of smart phones and particularly Android phones, --a group of friends and I were discussing this a few weeks the nature of smart phones and all of the critical personal data that they contain if one uses them as they were intended ("my whole life is on my cell phone")--and the dramatically increasing visibility of smartphones and their OS'es.....and seemingly that there is 1) no firewall 2) no anti virus 3) apparently no way of running a limited user account especiallyif rooted--- then we are creating a virtual field day for script kiddies. For years the 'nux community was very fortunate in security through obscurity. Now, with Android I think it could be argued that we are opening up a whole new malware/virus/pwowned vector into the nux community due to code and architecture similarities. I remember when I rooted my ROKKR, and the first telent session I was astounded that the entire linux file tree was visible. No way to FW, no space for an AV &c&c. So Android cant be run with a limited user account as well as having root availability eh? I never would have dreamed that.

  10. carr

    carr Active Member

    Continuing on. There looks like there HAS to be some way to get root privs and still run with a limited user account. I am aware that of course one would not be able to say run a GUI as root(apparently thats what one is doing running rooted) but is there no way to get password protected SU at least or a telnet session? That may be something Google might not want (after all look at the flap going on in Europe over some 800 pages of data saved on each FAcebook user and I can send you links to this if you dont know about it) and Google is of course harvesting everything they can from anywhere they can.......

    This machine is a core quad running a very locked down version of SUSe Linux. I do all of my browsing/email from only this machine. Only one browser set to accept cookies, the others not at all. The other machines are also locked down and I am behind a NAT firewall and individual SW firewalls.

    Question-- is there an AV for this phone
    Is there a FW for this phone?

    Wonder if someone has written a version of the OS where one can su into root to do housekeeping &c and run from the GUI as a limited user (although with the google bloat not that limited eh? ) Program peermissions in this thing are unreal. EVERYTHING wants online.

  11. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    Really? None of those were on mine when I got it in March. (Actually, we got 4 of them, Mine, My Fiance's and her kids - None of them had that crap on there like our BlackBerry's did!)

    That's not the case with the Atrix. Once you unlock the Bootloader, you are done with STOCK.

    You do realize that Android IS Linux, right?? And it's JUST as bad of an idea to run ROOT on the phone as it is a Linux PC. Look at the screenshot I posted above and you'll see what version of the Linux Kernel we are running.

    Basically, what you are saying is no different that someone saying it's a bad idea to run ROOT on a Red Hat Distro, but perfectly fine to run ROOT on an Unbutu Distro. After all, Android is just another Linux Distro when you get down to it.
    carr likes this.
  12. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    Once you root, all you have to do is open a terminal and "su" and you have full control.

    People don't get that.

    As for firewall and AV, I use this...
    I started using it on my BlackBerry a year or so ago and carried it over.
    -It has MINIMAL overhead
    -scan's all apps as you install them
    -Runs a weekly, full A/V scan
    -will back your contacts up to their servers (If you want, that can be turned off)
    -will let you LOCATE your phone if its lost or stolen (All you need is a PC with a web browser and your account info)

    I researched them and trust them.
    carr likes this.
  13. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    Not completely true.

    It's how it's SUPPOSED to be.... but....
    The last dozen or so bits of Android Malware have used a script that bypasses that prompt. It's like a "Silent Mode" switch entered with the su command (I forget what the SYNTAX is).
  14. carr

    carr Active Member

    kycats thanks very much for joining in.WolfmanRobby thanks for the continuing participation as well.

    All of this is amazing to me completely. Understand about being able to SU but----there s got to be a way to wall that off between the program area and the kernel area it looks like or next question are apps hooks into kernel space very different from say a linux or for that matter unix distro? I am still floored by this and had no idea before buying the phone that it was so.

    That having been said I think its an awesome platform. I ve also enjoyed thoroughly beginnning to learn about the OS as well. When I rooted it I never had any idea that is what one was accomplishing. I probably am more paranoid than most because I used to trade index futures online from my own platforms with my own money- until 2008 anyway. Very small time and I was living in Mexico then (and had for the past 10 + years) and there with what the ISP's dont do its a lot like the wild west..... of course in 2008 the markets dramatically changed so for small retail investors like I am it was suicide to try to stay in....and then in 2009 the first kidnapping attempt happened and Im back in the USA. Ah well (talk about thread drift!!) so I am probably security aware more than most.

    Thanks to both of you for recommending the tools you have. I am going to investigate those this evening.

    More as it happens
  15. carr

    carr Active Member

    Rereading to where we are to this point brings up something that bothers heck out of me....

    "will back your contacts up to their servers (If you want, that can be turned off)"

    Now--- thats fine. But I want my contacts on the SIM card, not anywhere in a cloud. None of any one elses business. There is not an option that I can find anywhere on this phone to save a name and phone number to either the removable drive, the sim card or anywhere else....only save either to your Motorola space or your google space. <sigh> I didnt have Moammar's home, cell and satellite phone numbers or e mail address on my old phone but maybe I need to start carrying a sheet of paper in the Otter Box with contact info on it.........LOL

    Any way to save contacts to phone memory?
    Thanks guys

    maybe I need to remember something Charles Darwin was supposed to have said "Evolve or Die".....
  16. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    I have to agree with letting the phone save them to your Google account for SEVERAL reasons...

    Backup - if you lose your phone, you lose your SIM and you lose your contacts with it. If they are on the Google servers, you can restore them to a replacement phone.

    SIM card contacts are limited. They only allow one number per name. So, you have to have 3 contacts for someone if they have a Home, Work and Mobile number.

    Most of my contacts have multiple numbers, Home and Work email addresses, Mailing addresses, Birthday's.... Photo of the person... There is no way I could work with the limited storage of contacts on the SIM.
    carr likes this.
  17. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    Symantics... yes... but look at it like this. Most SUV's are classified as "Trucks" and many are (or at least started out) being built on the truck chassis. Yet, they are not trucks. Regardless of what you want to call them or classify them, the same rules of the roads apply.

    A PC is still a PC - Regardless of it's running Windows, Linux or OS/X.
    (PC = Personal Computer, a phrase coined by Steve Job's)
    So, does that mean that it's OK to run Linux as ROOT, but not Windows as ADMINISTRATOR?

    Does that mean that you don't need passwords on one and not the other?

    The basics of it are this... You are holding a personal computer in your hand. You should take the same precautions with it as you do with the one sitting on your desk, regardless of the OS running on it.
    carr likes this.
  18. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    Between you and me, there has GOT to be a way to reverse it. I mean, it's not like it physically BURNS out a circuit. Technically, it flips a bit in the chip.

    Any bit that get's flipped, should be able to be flipped back.

    Unfortunately, I would think this might involve someone with the "Engineering cable" (Yeah, I know how to make one ;) ) and the proper firmware flashing tools... not to mention a copy of the locked firmware.

    I'm sure some tech in the Moto labs could plug it in on his test bench, flash the firmware in a couple of seconds and have it back to stock.

    Hey, I didn't say it would be easy.... just not impossible.
    carr likes this.
  19. carr

    carr Active Member

    Pretty fascinating-- first I have heard of E fuses thanks very much for the article !

    and share the makings of that special cable with us if you will !!

    Leads to another question-- It appears from my reading that I can "unroot" the phone- which would ostensibly leave a "blown fuse" somewhere (ahhh hand me that gum Soldering iron and solder then...) but question is unrooting a rooted phone removes from what I understand the access to root returning one to the original "level" of security then yes?

    This phone does not have any sort of terminal program on it that I have found so I assume that would be a 3rd party app.

    Thanks as well for the AV recommendations. Interesting although none seem to indicate anything like application protection per se or a firewall but I will do a web search on that and post back what I find.

    I at no point have been offered saving to the sim card or internal storage as an option. Not there in any settings files, not anywhere I can see in the GUI either. It never has been offered as an option <sigh>. Technically I guess its correct that having contacts on a cloud somewhere would be better in the case of loss, theft or destruction of the platform.

    One question I do have is what are the keystrokes to put the Atrix into recovery mode..... I know according to Pete's root instructions hold power on and volume down then after seeing the prompt hold volume up. I did a web search on this and found one site that recommended on the 4 G holding the power button and the camera button. There isnt of course any HW camera button, maybe on the atrix eh? I think for the sake of sanity and tranquility I am going to install Clockwork Mod recovery.

    If I say try another ROM and dont like it with Mod Recovery it seems that I could come back to what Im running now--Gingerbread.

    If someone finds a ROM they like and installs it then one could ostensibly "unroot" to make a more secure platform, right?

    When Ice Cream stable is released if I am running a custom ROM would I be able to load the android official release without bricking the phone?

    I am such a noob on Android!! Thanks again guys for all the kind help and interest..... this is a great place !!

  20. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    "eFuse"?? That's a new one on me. I've seen OEM's use bit checks in the main EPROM chips that "Flip" the bit if you make certian changes. You can usually "Reset" with the right software/cable. But, an actual FUSE???

    Carr -

    ROOTING does not burn out that fuse. That only happens if you unlock the bootloader. You would need to do that to load a Non-Stock ROM (like CyanogenMod).

    If you UnRoot it, you are just back to how it was when you got it. You would have to do this before installing any OEM updates anyway. So far, none of their updates have installed if you are rooted.

    As for being able to install an OFFICIAL ROM if you've installed a custom ROM.... NO. To install the custom ROM you would have to unlock the bootloader and that burns out the eFuse. Once that's burned, you can never go back to stock.

    You ask about installing when Google releases the Official ICS (4.0) - that's not how it works. They do not release it directly. They release the source to the OEM's (And to the public). And, then the OEM's build their official ROM's, and custom ROM developers build their ROM's (Like CyanogenMod).

    You wouldn't be able to download a "Generic" ROM from Google and load it. It's not like a PC OS where you just load the OS and the right drivers. Embedded OS's have to be custom built for the device they are loading on. That's why we could not take an ICS ROM built for another phone (Like the Nexus Prime) and load it.

    If you unlock the bootloader and load a custom ROM, then you will not be able to install the Motorola Official ICS ROM (If Moto ever releases one. We have not got confirmation they will release a build for the Atrix). You would only be able to load a custom ICS ROM.

    And, to be able to unroot after installing a custom ROM.... Not that I'm aware of. Every custom ROM I've worked with on my tablet requires you to be rooted. (That's why I use my "Other" Google account on my tablet. It has no personal info associated with it.)
    carr likes this.
  21. carr

    carr Active Member


    OK this furthers my understanding a bit. I somehow thought that when you rooted the bootloader unlocked. So I guess that unlocking that is yet another step that must be undertaken before trying to flash a custom ROM.

    In any case the way it sounds I probably wont flash a custom ROM at thispoint. What I have been trying to do for the last several hours is to install ROM manager only to back up what is already here in the event my fiddling breaks anything. Installing Clockworkmod's ROM manager however requires the installation of ClockworkMod's recovery bootstrap which looks like a nice tool. However getting the .img to the phone (it almost looks like either GRUB with various options or the Microsoft crash console) has proven difficult to impossible. I ve got conflicting drivers on the Windows 7 machine for this phone that apparently arent going to allow me to flash this image into the phone. Been a long day discovering......
    OK so the act of flashing a ROM unlocks the bootloader and you are screwed to an extent. I am not so sure that this phone is intact anyway because it had been rooted when I bought it. I dont know whether the original owner had a custom ROM on here at one time or not. In any case it has Gingerbread and solely to appease me I am going to look at some custom launchers. I really would like recovery tools though.

    Last time I had as much fun as I have trying to install ClockworkMod's recovery was setting up IP tables by hand on a Smoothwall installation in Mexico.

    Time to stop for the night

    Thanks to all for the kind direction and instructing a noob :)
  22. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    By installing CWM, you may have tripped that fuse. I think it unlocks the bootloader. (I may be wrong.)

    There is NO NEED to back up the Stock ROM. You can download it directly from Motorola's site, put it on the SD card and reload it directly.

    Even then, you really have to screw it up to need to re-flash. Typically, if you screw things up, you can just do a factory reset. This takes the ROM back to stock settings. I don't have the instructions handy, but a quick search of the forums here will turn it up.
    carr likes this.
  23. carr

    carr Active Member

    <<looks around for a multimeter with reeally smalllll probes. Unreal. I though we ran Open Source to try to get away from all this foolishness of control by a different version of Microflaccid dictating what you may and may not do with your machine. This risks making me an anarchist. I did not get CW Recovery installed in the phone. trying to do it thru USB from the computer. Hit a wall. I did get ROM manager installed and attempted to make a backup with it but it reboots and crashes (orphaned Inode Droid standing next to a triangle with a ! in the middle) so pulled the battery out, reinserted and restarted. I finally found that for ROM manager to work as advertised, one must have CW Recovery as well. Didnt say anything about that when I bought ROM Manager at the Store. <SIGH>

    The more I fool with all of this the more I realize how much there is to know that I dont....

  24. WolfmanRobby

    WolfmanRobby Well-Known Member

    Well, I don't see it as "Microflaccid dictating what you may and may not do with your machine" - that's what Apple does by Locking it down to the point you can only install app's they approve, and even being able to REMOVE apps from YOUR phone.

    You do have to remember, the big difference between a PC and the phone is the hardware. It's no where NEAR as flexible as a PC chassis. The hardware is all proprietary. And, space is limited. So, it's not like you have room for a large database of device drivers in the OS. That's one reason why each ROM is built by the OEM (And then the Custom Rom Builders tear that down to build a custom ROM) for each individual phone.

    Also, look at the wide range of phones you have to choose from. All of them with different hardware, features.... If they all had to make the same phone, what would be the point in being able to choose? That's where the tradeoff is.... Being able to choose a phone based on features, or getting a carbon copy, everyone the same like iPhone so that there is ONE phone and only one set of hardware for drivers. The closest you will get to this is the "Nexus" series of phones. Those are the most generic Android phones out there.

    Besides, it's not like you can open the phone and upgrade the video card, or CPU like you can a PC. So, if the OEM's HAVE to provide support, they do put some limitations on there.

    When was the last time you decided to try another Linux distro and it BURNED OUT the components in your computer? Never. Yet, a bad ROM can burn out the parts in the phone. I've seen crappy ROM's burn out Bluetooth, WiFi and GPS chips because they used the wrong drivers, or they tweaked a setting that caused the phone to put constant, full power through the chip thinking that it would boost performance.

    I firmly believe in the concept of "It's my phone, I can do what I want with it." That's why I choose Android over iPhone.
    However, I also know that I am physically limited on what I can fix in the phone. And, Motorola know's much more about the workings of the hardware than I do. Most importantly, I NEED my phone to work. I live off my phone. So, when it comes to the base OS, I trust them over anyone else.
    carr likes this.
  25. carr

    carr Active Member


    Understood. I never stopped to consider that a phone is a much more closed device than is a PC. My error is of course from my PC perspective. Even with the hardware limitations the Atrix is amazing. Having not participated in the whole smart phone evolution from the first- the phone I used before last night was 3 years old, ancient in technology terms, the change is much more pronounced than to someone who has changed phones a time or two a year for the last 3 years. I ve been running the Atrix hard today with a lot of phone calls, downloading and between all of this keeping music going and I am right at 50 % battery life. Thinking about that, its pretty awesome. I expected to be needing a recharge before now.

    One would think that had I opened up the boot loader then the machine would show CW Recovery but since I did not get that to load.... maybe not. I ve been reading a bit about Ice cream Sandwich and it looks interesting.Hopefully we will have that before the first of the year.

    Also I have downloaded and installed Launcher Pro, Elixir 2 and Lookout. All great programs and thanks very much for the recommendations. Launcher Pro-- well its a different phone now. Elixir 2 is an amazing tool with its own version of top as well. I like that type of tool.

    Many thanks again for helping me to put more of this in the perspective it needs to be in. Your comments about Apple are dead on-- never having used anything Apple in my life I dont know much about that whole environment. I have a photographer friend here who only will use things Apple as well as another on the West Coast who does video walls for concerts, car shows and the like. I never ventured into that environment because I ve always liked building my own machines which I have done all my life.


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