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CyanogenMod on Samsung Galaxy S3 (I9300): Beginning with custom ROMs December 7, 2013

Posted by NAyK in android, Apps, CyanogenMod, Linux, Samsung Galaxy S3.
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cyanogenmod10It happened again! Several years ago, when I installed my first linux distro above a Windows (XP) platform, I saw the computer come alive, and fill me with wonder. The same feeling came to me, when few days ago I installed my first Custom ROM.  I had been reading about Custom ROMs for a while, but hadn’t really dared to even root my phone. I had just bought a Galaxy S3 (which was selling on a huge discount after the S4 was released). I was pleased with the phone, but found that it started to lag terribly. In fact, it was especially frustrating when I needed to make urgent calls, and the phone application would take up to 3-4 seconds to open up. I know it’s not much in a real sense, but for phone technology, I found myself wishing for a dumb Nokia phone!

To solve the problem, I felt it Samsung TouchWiz had become too bloated, so I decided to root it and uninstall the programmes that I didn’t need.

I first bought Titanium Backup, simply because that’s what it seemed else said should be done (on hindsight, Titanium has never worked for me, and so I don’t even use it at the moment. Maybe that’s because I’m misunderstanding its function). Anyway…

The rooting process wasn’t that hard, though at each moment it was like a journey into the unknown. I followed the instructions, installed Odin, but didn’t even know what a recovery programme was until I actually installed/used it. I purchased the ClockworkMod Recovery (CWM), just because that option came up… and I felt it was better to go with the “safer” route. Maybe I didn’t actually need it, but I don’t regret buying it. I followed the step by step instructions from the internet, and eventually had a rooted phone.

Sadly, I was too nervous to delete anything on the phone, not knowing what was critical and what was not. I only uninstalled a few programmes like Evernote, which I didn’t use. But apart from a few programmes, I was stuck with a similarly laggy phone.

I decided to take the drastic route, drawing courage from my rooting experience, to install a custom ROM. I did a little research and found that people were actually recommending  the AOKP custom ROM above the CyanogenMOD. So I decided to install the AOKP mod.

I followed the instructions, and installed a beautiful AOKP ROM on my phone. It was really great… just like seeing my first openSUSE (green) disto on my computer.However, when I saw the file system, AOKP did not install on the System ROM partition and instead installed on my internal storage partition and left me with only 4 GB of space. I needed much more. So I formatted everything and started again… but somehow I think I missed something and my phone went into a boot cycle… meaning it just wouldn’t boot up… but keep trying to boot.

I freaked out. Regardless of the discount, my phone was still very very expensive. I could not afford another one. And the words “brick” your phone became real to me.

But thanks again to the internet, and a bit of trial and error, I found out how to reboot and start again. Sadly, this time, my Clockwork Mod would just not read my external SD card… I was not able to install anything. Until I swapped my 32 GB card with a 2 GB old SD card that I had lying around.

Then, as it turned out, the AOKP file was (got?) corrupted so I could only read the CyanogenMod ROM… which is what I finally installed. Relief! it worked.

It wasn’t as beautiful as the AOKP ROM, but it was much faster than Samsung’s Touchwiz phone. And I was glad to have shifted. I also noted that it took less memory that the AOKP ROM so that even though it didn’t install into the System ROM space (how do you do that?), at least I had more memory to “play” with!

Currently, I’m on the Cyanogen Mod 10.2 stable build, and I’m going to experiment with the Nightly builds soon. However, it was really exciting…. just like having linux again. Only this time, I have only one operating system… so I’m really pushed to fully experiment and work with it (unlike Linux in which I always had the windows failsafe when I got overwhelmed).

Some good points.

1. Much faster than original Samsung Android.

2. Similar (familiar) to Samsung’s android.

3. Even though it is not as beautiful as other ROMs, perhaps, I still like the control I have over my phone, and it is still beautiful. (screenshot of my homescreen at the bottom)

Some concerns.

1. Battery life is still poor… I only get 5-6 hours of moderate usage (same as Galaxy S3). Was it supposed to be better here?

2. Boot time is slower than Samsung.

3. Movies are playing in a choppy way. Feels like there are no HD drivers or something. Is that true? Someone was saying that Samsung uses device-level (CPU level) media decoders, guess Cyanogen does not, huh.

4. Camera did not have photosphere.

5. I really miss Samsung’ easy connection to media devices (like TV etc) – that’s really the only thing I miss about Touchwiz (and the media drivers of course).  In Cyanogen I had to experiment with different apps for “beaming” and still haven’t found the perfect one.

6. The cost of installing a new ROM is having to install and configure everything again. That’s a real pain, especially for programmes that have post-installation downloads.

On the whole, it was a really exciting though at time scary experience with a Custom ROM. I would really not recommend it for everyone.. I wouldn’t every try it for someone else. Still, I’m happy I did it.

For an interesting article on why one SHOULD install Cyanogen, read this here: http://www.androidbeat.com/2013/06/top-reasons-to-install-cyanogenmod-on-android-device/

Cyanogen_On_S3_Screenshot

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