12 September 2010

Froyo and the Galaxy S

Yesterday, I took the plunge and successfully upgraded my Samsung S to Froyo. This was with ROM I9000XXJP3 which although released by Samsung in Kies, does not appear to be an official release ROM version. I thought the experience was worth sharing for anyone else that might be thinking about it.

Steps to install

First off, I didn't use Kies to to the upgrade (as described in this XDA developers post) for several reasons:
  • I hate Kies even more than I hate iTunes - at least iTunes is vaguely useful for organising play lists, and does a proper backup of your device. Anyway, moving on...
  • Upgrading Kies to the version which contained the new ROM took over ten hours, after which my laptop was no longer able to recognise my phone because the USB drivers had been destroyed.
  • Another five hours of trying things to fix the drivers had not solved the problem so I gave up and switched to my other laptop.
  • As it turns out, Samsung have stopped the update being available in Kies anyway.
So here is what actually worked for me. I was starting from an already unlocked phone, and ADB with working USB drivers installed, then the steps were:
The upgrade went totally smoothly and very shortly my Galaxy S automatically rebooted into Froyo loveliness.

So what's the big deal?

The most noticeable difference so far is the speed - the 3-4 second delay when opening an activity is all but gone and the phone phone feels much nicer to use as a result. This was the one thing that had been stopping me saying that the Galaxy S was as good as an iPhone 4.

The second major thing is Flash 10.1 support so I don't get crappy messages on sites that insist on it. Sorry Steve, but it's going to be a long time before everyone has moved to HTML5.

Other things are more cosmetic - there's an option in the Market to allow automatic updates which sounds nice, settings have colour icons, there's a GPS toggle in the windowshade when you drag down the notification bar, apps can now install to the SD card (although to do this by default you have to do some tweaking), and so on.

Teething troubles

A few things could have been better:
  • Some of the settings were lost - display timeouts, lock screen config, etc., which wasn't a surprise. Account details for Google accounts were preserved, but others (e.g. Hotmail) lost. Not a biggy.
  • I chose not to repartition during the update, but many apps crashed when first run so needed reinstalling (either from the Market or from my ASTRO backup). With hindsight I probably would have just repartitioned to give a clean start and then restored everything in one go from ASTRO.
  • Pure Calendar (which is one of my favourite widgets) has vanished, is not visible to me in the Market, and wasn't backed up by ASTRO. It turns out this is because I9000XXJP3 isn't official (as far as Google are concerned) and so copy-protected apps are hidden. More info from the developer of Pure Calendar here. Copy-protected apps can be backed up if you've rooted your device, e.g. using Titanium Backup, but I didn't know that at the time.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the upgrade, if a little frustrated at having to reinstall apps and losing Pure Calendar. When Samsung release an official ROM later this month I'll be upgrading to that using the same process again.

Update 2010-09-13

I've now rooted it following instructions from here, and applied RyanZA's One Click Lag Fix from the Market roughly using instructions from here, which pretty-much doubled my Quadrant score up to 1766. The phone is blindingly fast now - definitely recommend.

21 April 2010

Home storage: ReadyNAS NVX hits the spot

I've recently upgraded my home storage solution to NetGear's ReadyNAS NVX and I must say that I'm rather pleased with it.

I've had a Buffalo Linkstation for a while now and it's been a good little box - quiet and does the storage thing fine. I'd even gone as far as reflashing it to run Debian so that I could install a SqueezeBox Server (which was quite an ordeal but worked second time around after bricking the first one). But the little ARM9 chip really wasn't up to doing much more than file sharing so trying to do stuff whilst it was serving music would end up with songs cutting in and out - not ideal.

So why the ReadyNAS NVX?

My requirements were relatively straightforward:
  • Low maintenance, but able to get under the hood if needed
  • File sharing for both Windows and Mac
  • Expandable storage
  • SqueezeBox Server support and enough CPU power to use it properly
The NVX is quite pricey (a bit under £600 at Amazon in the UK for dual 500GB drives) but worth the money in my book. Working through my requirements:

Low maintenance

Installation was unbelievably easy - unpack, plug into network, done. There is some "RAIDar" software you install on one of your machines to give you monitoring but again this is trivial (even on Windows 7). A basic wizard in the web interface gets all your initial settings done (network name, initial user accounts, etc.) but it is all over in a very few minutes.

Able to get under the hood

The ReadyNAS is running Debian, and with a simple add-on upload you can ssh as root and play to your heart's content. Of course it comes with warnings about NetGear support not being too chuffed but whatever.

I also installed another add-on that provides an istat server, which collects CPU, network usage, etc. and allows you to view it in a cool iPhone app. As well as showing how much disk space I've got left, it also gives me a good view as to how well the Intel embedded CPU is coping with the load.

File sharing

Not only does it support CIFS for Windows and AFP for Macs, but it also lets you expose shares as NFS, provides FTP access and also runs an rsync daemon (which is what I used for blasting the data across from my LinkStation). Plus it also throws in network sharing of USB printers to boot.

Expandable storage

This was one of the key sellers for me with the NVX. Not only has it got four hot-swappable bays, but it also supports the new X-RAID 2 technology which allows you to swap out existing disks for bigger ones and get benefit even if they're not all the same size (unlike X-RAID 1). For me, this meant that I could take my two 500GB Linkstation drives (remember I bricked the first one) and add then to an NVX that was prepopulated with two similar drives and I get 1.5TB of storage now but can swap out a couple of disks later if I fill that up. In other words this should last me a few years of growth even if I do start recording HD movies.

SqueezeBox support

There is direct support for SqueezeBox by Logitech, in fact it ships with the add-on already installed. Updating to the latest version was again very simple and it's been working perfectly, including running the fabulous iPeng which used to cause my LinkStation to overload.

But not only does it provide SqueezeBox support, it also supports Sonos, DLNA (so my PS3 sees media) and packs a Firefly server to stream your music to iTunes if you so desire. That's pretty comprehensive.


There's a whole host of other good things about the ReadyNAS as well that I've not gone into (have a look at the backup options in the specs, which I've not played with yet), but I've been really impressed with how easy it's been, and how it blows away my requirements. There are cheaper options as well, such as the ReadyNAS Duo, which drop some of the features or have fewer drive bays, but for me the NVX gets it just right without (completely) breaking the bank.


I've now taken the first of my LinkStation drives and added it in the third bay. Installation was trivial - just attach the drive to the housing and slot it in, then the ReadyNAS recognised it, gave me the option of wiping the existing data, and added it to the RAID set. Restriping took around nine hours but the whole process was totally pain-free (and with the device in use for other things throughout).

And the admin site is laid out perfectly for an iPad too!