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back to article All cool kids' phones run ALTERNATIVE alternative custom Android ROM

Android users who want a custom ROM*, but are turned off by Cyanogenmod's attempts to go commercial, now have another option in the form of the newly-launched OmniROM. OmniROM comes from several of those involved in CyanogenMod, who lost interest when those in charge of the most popular replacement firmware committed the …

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Not like Skype then

Not another popular open source project which is bought commercially so that it can be "enhanced" by persons unknown.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not like Skype then

MySQL...

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WTF?

Re: Not like Skype then

Skype was never open source as far as I'm aware.

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Re: Not like Skype then

"Skype was never open source as far as I'm aware."

Quite right, it has always been proprietary. In fact, it kind of went beyond proprietary, it didn't even comply with any open standard. Instead they invented their own complete and finished VOIP system which poked two fingers up at the likes of SIP.

Judging by how successful Skype has been you have to wonder if any of those open standards is actually any good. Skype clearly had 'something' that all the rest lacked.

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Focal is a great capera app

And I respect the position the developer took when he pulled it from CM.

It is galling to see what was initially free, crowd sourced, data being packaged for sale when those who gathered the data, made the sale possible through their efforts, receive next to nothing in return when the head honcho gets, say, a villa in Florida out of it. You know who you are.

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Re: Focal is a great capera app

Totally agree. CM is not exactly the most respectable project any more.

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Re: Focal is a great capera app

I'm all for them making a buck from putting it on preloaded handsets etc personally, doing something like that would help to cover costs of hosting and management etc. But that's pretty much the limit of it imo.

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Re: Focal is a great capera app

Did the the Linux kernel developers get pissed at CM going commercial? I don't think so. Did the BSD devs get pissed with OSX? Again, no. The answer is in the licensing. If a dev is going to release their code under the wrong license then that's their fault.

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Re: Focal is a great capera app

That's the thing, he released it under the GPLv3.

Then they approached him and said, "we need to relicense" - which, as original copyright holder of every component but Hugin (which was reasonably separated from the rest of Focal as the binaries were called via commandline calls IIRC), xplodwild COULD do if he wished.

Then they started rambling on about the CyanogenMod CLA and how it gave them the ability to relicense the code. THIS is what many of us have severe issues with. They tried to use the CLA as an intimidation tactic by representing it as giving them more power than it actually did. (In reality, the current CyanogenMod CLA is COMPLETELY USELESS for this particular purpose - it does NOT in any way allow for relicensing of GPL code, and in addition, even if xplodwild did agree to a dual-license scheme, contributions via the CLA would still be GPL-only unless they added something similar to clause 2.3 of Canonical's Harmony CLA.)

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I've tried to be cool kid and use CM. Never again, whole idea that bunch of non-paid programmers of unknown skill level can do better job than paid developers with access to internal documentation is retarded.

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Nothing to do with the competence of the programmers, it is the bastardisation of the OS in an attempt to increase profits of the manufactures that is the problem that gets fixed with a custom rom.

I don't want no Samsung ( or HTC or Sony etc ...... ) shit on my phones.

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Can a properly managed paid development / test team produce better results - probably (I've known plenty of buggy commercial software), but in practice they are focused on the latest handsets so access to newer features is largely via custom ROMs.

I run CM9 on my i9000 (Galaxy S), custom ROMs are the only way to get Android 4.x on that handset. Yes it has the odd bug, but I can live with that easily for not having to spend £300 on a new handset (either one off or via increased monthly costs).

I also have an original Note 10.1 which I like a lot, but I'm still waiting for a 4.2 update from Samsung and I am starting to be dubious if it will ever arrive. As my kids also use my tablet I would *really* like the multiple profile functionality. At some point I may wipe that and install a current CM or similar ROM.

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"whole idea that bunch of non-paid programmers of unknown skill level can do better job than paid developers with access to internal documentation is retarded."

Your statement is proven false every day. The entire infrastructure of the internet is built on open source software developed by "non-paid programmers". Oh, except there are a few Microsoft servers developed by the professionals. AND THOSE ARE JUST GREAT.

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Yeah, yeah, yeah. Been there did that. Sorry, I do not have time to test all shit that comes out of so called ROM developers on daily basis who do not even bother to update changelog let alone trivially test their code commits. Fsck that.

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"Your statement is proven false every day. The entire infrastructure of the internet is built on open source software developed by "non-paid programmers"

Is it ? Infrastructure of the Internet is built on Cisco routers, that's exactly opposite to open source.

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Infrastructure of the Internet is built on Cisco routers, that's exactly opposite to open source.

Well yes and no.

The earliest routers were VAX computers running Unix of course - mainly BSD derived free.

Cisco stepped in and made a dedicated box that did a few simple thing extremely fast...

as far as servers go the vast majority on the internet are based on things like linux, apache, and so on.

Which goes to show that neither freeness nor paying salaries is any guarantee of good code.

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Consider that a lot of the infrastructure code people are talking about above was actually written by people employed to do so, and then contributed by their employers, so in effect is 'professionally' written. On the whole the bloke in his bedroom writing code is not a major contributor to this sort of SW.

For non-kernel, non-infrastructure programming, it's a different kettle of oarfish. And the quality of that is often not as good as it should be.

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"whole idea that bunch of non-paid programmers of unknown skill level can do better job than paid developers with access to internal documentation is retarded."

If that's the case, why are investors paying so much money to get their hands on the code? Wouldn't they just set up a rival company, build their own code from scratch and wipe the original company out by being so wonderful?

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Neither Linux nor Apache developed by non-paid programmers.

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Not saying I agree with the person you're disagreeing with, but mostly the investors are buying market share and brand equity, not code. If they wanted the code, they would just license it, not buy the firm.

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Non-Paid Programmers

"The entire infrastructure of the internet is built on open source software developed by "non-paid programmers"

So the 70% or so of work done on the Linux kernel by companies like IBM is done by "non-paid programmers"? I think not. And that's only the kernel. A large percentage of all work done on Linux these days is NOT done by "non-paid programmers" despite what you may think.

The infrastucture of the Internet does not run wholly on "Free" Software eihter, unless CISCO suddenly had a change of heart.

I could go on but really can't be bothered.

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Actually CM is (or was, as of CM10, when it was still just a popular open source project and the last time I updated) a very high quality product. It's certainly better than any stock ROM I've ever used, and that's even with an unofficial beta build at the time (yeah, I probably should probably update my tablet again at some point, but CM10 beta works well enough that I've felt no particular need to do so). My phone also runs CM, though it's on CM9, the latest 'official' build for it about a year ago (last time I checked).

As for your commentary on open source, allow me, as a paid developer by day and 'programmer of unknown skill level' donating code by night, to point out that the internet runs on open source code. Most enterprise routers run a Linux kernel. As does a huge chunk of the global DNS system. As does the engine computer in your car, if it's new enough to have one. And your smart TV. And most likely your ISP's systems. And your toaster. And your dead badger. (Ok, I'm joking with those last two.) My point is that it's a proven approach to programming. CM may not be your cup of tea, but don't blame the approach they took when they put it together.

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Anonymous Coward

"Most enterprise routers run a Linux kernel"

As far as I know neither CISCO nor Juniper run on a Linux kernel.

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Happy?

"most Android users are quite happy with the Google-backed ROM which comes pre-installed"

No, I think most simply live with the donkey gonad-sucking software that device manufacturers supply and then practically never patch or fix.

Most OS have several patches per *month* for security, when did your phone last get patched? And the only time I got a "patch" for my HTC it was a complete image, thus involved a system reset and having to configure everything again. Look you imbeciles at HTC, Google, etc, patching a Linux-based OS is a know technology, use it!

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Re: Happy?

The woefulness of the carriers rom is probably the biggest modifier in likelihood of using CM or any custom rom.

My Orange San Fransisco got it it because the supplied rom was a bag of shit.

I can't be arsed putting it on my S3 because it's ok as it is (I get a feeling I'm probably not using the phone to it's full potential, but I can't be arsed reading the manual either).

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It's better than most manufacturer crap

In terms of general code quality and ease of use, it's very much:

Vanilla Google > Cyanogen > ...long gap here... > anything provided by a manufacturer, such as Samsung

I've used Cyanogen very happily on rooted devices, and would do so again. It's so much better than HTC or Samsung's bastardised Androids. Friend put Cyanogen on his HTC Desire and ended up with 30% better battery life.

But I'd much rather have the closed, locked-down Android from Google. (I'm very happy with my Nexus 4.)

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Meh

Cyanogen is great when it works but how often do you update to find that your GPS or wireless no longer work properly? I gave up in the end, went back to the stock firmware and now only buy Nexus devices so that I don't have all of the crapware that the manufacturers stick on top.

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Re: Meh

Cm10 EOL works perfectly on my Galaxy W (and 10.1 is nigh on flawless too) - maybe the Alpha or Beta status of the version you tried should have given a clue as to its completeness.

To rid your device of manufacturer crapware you only need root and an app called SystemApp Remover, which as you will have guessed let's you remove system apps which are otherwise uninstallable (you could even just use a root file browser and rename/remove the offending apk's from root/system/apps)

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What's the point?

I'm going to get downvotes here, but it's an honest question, so look a puppy straight in the eye before you hit that down button:

I've got a recent top of the line Android smartphone, 6 months old - can someone please explain what actually is the point in these alternative ROMs, and what makes something like Cyanawhatever special, and why I should be using it?

FWIW, my phone doesn't crash, battery life is pretty good, and I've rooted it and removed all the branded apps from the stock ROM, so what will Cyanogen give me?

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Re: What's the point?

These two questions made me switch.

"Does your phone have NFC? Does that phone allow the use of Google Wallet?"

For me (A T-Mobile US Galaxy S4), the answers were "yes" and "no" (T-Mobile still doesn't support Google Wallet officially, AFAIK it's only supported for Sprint). The community found a way around that, and I found the feature most useful in my experience.

Another one:

"Do you like the built-in software on your device?"

That was "no" for me, and since they're built-in, you can't uninstall them even as they poll your network and sap your data allowance and battery life. Getting one with the excess baggage or "bloatware" stripped out was a nice plus. In addition, there were assorted niggling details that were both annoying and (until I customized) impossible to address.

In addition, having better control of the phone meant I could take charge should something go wrong. Because of a good routine, even when updates went wrong, I had a means to backtrack.

PS. I understand my experience is not for everyone. I first rooted a phone only a year ago (Desire Z/T-Mobile G2) to give it more freedom when I went abroad, but since then I came to appreciate the additional freedom and flexibility it allowed.

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Re: What's the point?

I suggest you check out the xda forum subsection for your device, but a few of the benefits are:

Zip aligned

Deodexed

Init d support

Exposed framework

Choice of kernel

Performance options (choice of governor/scheduler, over clock, under volt, memory usage, amount of memory available for apps to use - my galaxy w now has 390mb available up from the stock 350mb )

More frequent updates then your manufacturer offers

Newer versions of Android than your phone will officially get

A myriad of customisation options not offered by any stock ROM

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Re: What's the point?

With a recent top end phone, you're probably not the target audience then. As people have said above, it's useful for getting a newer version of Android running which would (hopefully) fix bugs/performance issues from Android 2.x or manufacturer bloatware. It's certainly given some of my old devices a new lease of life in terms of performance and 3rd-party app support.

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Re: What's the point?

"Rooting your phone is essentially installing a custom ROM, just with less drastic tweaks."

Nope. Rooting is simply having administrator access. From this, you can edit system files, or delete pre-installed applications (such as carrier installed crap).

Custom ROM is a new/different Operating System. Along the lines of wiping Windows and installing Linux on a home PC.

You can do one without the other, if you so wish.

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footnotes

"* Custom OS image installed into the ROM area of your phone."

Please stop. We are not idiots.

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Re: footnotes

True, but we are pedants.

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Re: footnotes

"Please stop. We are not idiots."

When the post two above yours posits that rooting is the same as installing a custom ROM, I'd beg to differ.

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Re: footnotes

I predict in two years this will have sunk down to current slashdot levels.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: footnotes

"Please stop. We are not idiots."

Thing is, we're not patronising our readers with these extra explanations. We're always seeking to expand our readership for obvious reasons, but it's a fine balance between making ourselves accessible while not dumbing down.

So if you find yourself reading something you already know, then brilliant, you're clever: but not everyone's the same and we want The Reg to entertain (and inform) as many people as possible.

C.

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Gimp

This is why I am leaving Android

I used to be a committed fandroid, heck I have so many droid devices, but enough is enough.

Simply too many devices, too many flavours of OS.

I don't want to have to hunt and research for the best user experience. I want a device that works, and receives regular updates. That even when the handsets are refreshed the latest software is delivered.

That's right folks, I am buying an Apple, I will be a fanboi....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is why I am leaving Android

You also more-or-less described Google's "own" Nexus devices there.

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Re: This is why I am leaving Android

Based on your talkingpoints there, I'm pretty sure you've either always been on Apple or are one of those people Apple pays to go post positively about them in forums.

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Re: @Bullseyed

Why not click on my name and see, rather than guessing you turnip

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Re: This is why I am leaving Android

"Based on your talkingpoints there, I'm pretty sure you've either always been on Apple or are one of those people Apple pays to go post positively about them in forums."

Where do I leave my other plusses...? Spotted that from a mile of myself.. :)

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@ukgnome Re: This is why I am leaving Android

There will be more joy in Cupertino over one fandroid who repents than over ninety-nine fanbois who need no repentance. Blessed are the fruity ones.

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I've flashed a lot of ROMs

And not one of them matches the up time my stock HTC One gets.

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Anonymous Coward

I've gotten tired of the cycle of installing ROMs, figuring out what broke, then switching or upgrading to a new ROM, with the occasional factory reinstall for updates or returning malfunctioning devices.

For me now it's just root the device and move on.

Switching to one of Google's Nexus devices isn't an option. There's always at least one limit to them I won't abide, like the lack of a slot for memory and the lack of LTE on the 4.

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Seriously, switching ROMs and getting fully back up and running takes like about an hour, including downloading your choice of ROM and kernel. With a few tools like Clockworkmod & Titanium to backup your existing install, and a few free apps to backup call logs, SMS/MMS and apk's it is almost a trivial job to switch ROMs at leisure.

Granted, broken functions are a pain but hey, that's why there are change logs, known bug lists and the xda forum.

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Anonymous Coward

It's just not worth it. Either the phone is usable with no mods or just root, or it isn't.

If I have to load a non-manufacturer ROM to have a working phone then I'd rather just get a different phone, which I did. It's running a recent version of Android and I don't feel any need to upgrade.

I've got better things to do with my time than tracking issues with custom ROMs and spending an hour or two every week or so switching ROMs, plus the time working around issues. Then there's the hassle of data that just isn't backed up unless you get yet another program to do it.

Even following threads in the XDA forum is a pain because of all the noise. Information that's needed is spread all through the posts in a thread (or multiple threads). Half the links seem to take me to a site that requires me to register to download the ROM or some other piece of software I need. I've got accounts scattered around and I've lost track of them.

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Tell that to all the people who have NFC phones but no Google Wallet support due to carrier lockout. S3 and S4 owners have been crowing for months about the solution around it, and I like it, too.

There's also the matter of custom UIs like Sense and TouchWiz. There are people who find it too clunky, too bloated, or simply not for them. Cyanogen uses the basic AOSP interface, which you can then customize. I personally don't use it because AOSP's NFC support is spotty, but many others like the KISS simplicity. Also, this saves them money since it can buy them time when they don't have to buy a new phone just yet. I did that for my Desire Z and slimmed things down enough that I could still use it satisfactorily for another six months when bloatware kept slowing my phone to a crawl.

As for the XDA Forums, I found their search tools useful for hunting down information. You can search threads, groups, and the whole site if necessary.

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