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Android ROMs explained

To the uninitiated, the world of Android ROMs can be more than a little confusing. Since Android is based on Linux and therefore large portions of it are licensed under the GPL, enthusiasts are free to create and release their own builds.

That’s where some of the confusion comes from. When you buy an Android device, it comes with Android pre-loaded of course. Then, when Google releases a new version of Android, it releases it to the vendors and to the phone companies. If your device is really popular and you’re really lucky, you’ll get an update from either the carrier or the vendor. Usually the update comes with some ridealong software, which you may or may not find useful.

Enthusiast-built Android ROMs tend to come out much sooner than official ROMs sanctioned by the manufacturer, and they don’t come with the bloatware either, so they tend to run a lot better. My venerable Samsung Galaxy S4G phone, which is nearly three years old, runs better on an enthusiast-built ROM than it ever ran with the vendor-provided one, and the enthusiast-built ROMs are much more up to date.Read More »Android ROMs explained

I’m taking everyone’s advice and doing what I love

I cracked out my IBM PC/AT-turned-K5/100 today and fired it up for the first time since I bought my house. I wanted to download some ISOs and play with some things like DietLinux and Knoppix, but my aged AT is the only system I have with a usable CD burner. The hard drive in my box that contains my good CD burner died back in February or so, and I had other priorities (ahem), so I never replaced the drive. Now I’ve got different other priorities (which I won’t talk about just yet), but even if I had another drive, I can’t seem to find my Nero CD. So it just makes more sense to pull the AT off the bench.

Sorcerer: An easier way to get Linux your way

I’ve talked about Linux From Scratch before, and I like how it gives you just what you want, compiled how you want, by your system, for your system, but it doesn’t actually give you a very useful system in the end.

Building a dual-boot W2K/Mandrake 8 box

We descended on Steve DeLassus’ place yesterday afternoon for a hair-pulling configuration adventure. Steve introduced me to two Linux gurus he knows from work, Adam and Jamin.


Mailbag:  Free FDISK; Reiser

ReiserFS experiments. I spent a good deal of time yesterday figuring out how to convert an ext2 system to a Reiser system (for greater speed and fault-tolerance) when Brian Bilbrey pointed out how to create an all-Reiser system from the get-go with Mandrake 7.2.

The trick is to pick expert mode when you get to the Setup filesystems portion of installation, click on some free space (making some if necessary), then click create. Under the Filesystem type drop-down list, you can select Linux native, Linux swap, ReiserFS, or FAT32. Pick Reiser, and you’re set.

Now the big question… How to partition? I like to put /boot on a FAT partition just in case something goes horribly wrong, then I can recover the system even if my Linux boot disk fails by using any old DOS boot disk. It doesn’t have to be very big. ReiserFS may make you nervous since it hasn’t been officially blessed by the kernel team, but at the very least use it for the /tmp partition, and I’d use it for /var as well. Since /tmp and /var are where lots of little files get written constantly, they’re ideal for Reiser, and since those files tend to have short lifespans, it’s good to use a partition to isolate them from the rest of your files. Fragmentation isn’t much of a problem with Linux; partitioning wisely makes it even less so. Neither of these partitions has to be huge; a few hundred megs ought to be plenty. The two biggest partitions should be / and /home. The / partition, of course, holds the OS, while /home holds user data. If you wish, you can place /usr on a separate disk if you want apps on a separate disk from the OS for performance’s sake.

And remember, the disk is faster towards the front, so put speed-critical partitions like /root and /home up front. Put /boot right up front unless you’re using a modern distribution that uses the new GRUB bootloader; LILO has problems with high partition numbers. If you’re using GRUB (Mandrake 7.2 does), you can put /boot at the very end. Since these files are accessed at boot time and then never again, they don’t have to have the greatest speed.

Mailbag:  Free FDISK; Reiser

Pentium 4 performance is precedented

Thoughts on the Pentium 4 launch. No big surprises: a massively complex new processor design, limited availability, and systems from all the usual suspects, at high prices of course. And, as widely reported previously, disappointing performance.

Wednesday mailbag

Short stuff today. There’s mail on nostalgia and my infamous books today, so let’s get right to them.