The Misadventures of Quinxy truths, lies, and everything in between!

Nook Color Modding FAQ

In the course of helping people with Nook Color modding issues a number of questions have come up, and I thought it made sense to consolidate the answers all in one place.  If you have better answers please post them as comments and I'll update the page.

What OS should I install on my Nook Color?  What are the options?

Read this guide on how to pick your Nook Color operating system and install options.

Are the SD install options really safe?  Will they change anything on my Nook Color?

The OS options which install to the SD and run the OS off the SD will not harm or modify the internal OS at all.  (Assuming you follow directions and use the appropriate SD install.)

I'm a Newbie, Can I do this?

Yes.  It's pretty straight forward and pretty safe, but things might get messy so don't require this to be a 30 minute affair.  It might take 30 minutes, it might take you 6 hours (if things go wrong and you need to make them right, and get advice/help).  The point is to be realistic.  If you are totally new to this and eager to learn and try, this is a great opportunity.  If you're totally unwilling to deal with things if they go wrong, don't bother.

How do I return to the stock Barnes & Noble ROM?

You can definitely revert to stock but I haven’t found a one step process, which surprises me. The instructions I’ve found involve going back to 1.0.1, then “sideloading” to the 1.1 update.

Basically you start here:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=931720 (return to 1.0.1)

Then you root that:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=872490

And then you go to 1.1:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=932145

I haven’t done it myself, so I can’t guarantee that’s the best way or the right way. You may wish to look around some more for an easier way. Unless you need the stock B&N reader software or the deep sleep (and longer battery life) I'd stick with phiremod or pure CM 7.

How do I figure out which partition I should expand/resize if I re-imaged my SD-installed OS?

On verygreen's SD install the last partition is the SD card partition, so that's the one you want to expand with the free GParted Live, EASUS Partition Manager, or Acronis Disk Director.

On some other SD-installed OS it should be pretty easy to figure it out.  You will usually find two fat32 partitions, one for boot and one for the virtual SD partition.  There will also be several Linux partitions.  One fat32 partition is almost certainly going to be your boot partition, the other is almost certainly going to be your SD partition. Usually the boot partition is tiny, like 100 MB give or take, and the SD partition will be quite a bit larger. If for some reason the sizes aren’t a dead give away, you could pop the SD card into a Windows, Mac, or Linux box and then see what the contents of the partitions are. Most likely the boot partition will be the one that gets mounted automatically in Windows (not sure about others) and if you look at the drive and see uImage in the root you’re looking at the boot partition, then you just open up the Windows Disk Manager (or equivalent) and see which partition on the disk is mounted; obviously if you see SD card related folders instead then it’s mounted the SD card partition.

Why is my App's Screens so Small?  How do I make it Full Screen?

Go to “Spare Parts” app and uncheck compatibility mode. That’ll fix the screen size issue.

I'm Having WiFi Trouble, what do I do?

It Won't Connect to My Access Point Any More

I have read somewhere that in some cases you might want to try forgetting then re-entering your wifi password info. You may wish to try that with the access points you’re having trouble with. I think one post even suggesting clearing all wifi entries, but I’m not sure how clearing ones other than the problem one might help.

Wifi On But Not Working on Boot

Sometimes when I reboot wifi says it is on but lists no access points. This seems to be happening on many reboots now.  Turning wifi off and then back on fixes this.

How Do I Clone or Backup my SD Card?

To clone you are basically just creating an image file from the SD card and then writing that image file back to the new card.

Win 32 Disk Imager Instructions

So, insert the card you want to clone into your card reader, then start Win32DiskImager (don’t start it before, but if you do click the little refresh icon to the right of the drop down for driver letters). Now choose the drive letter for your SD card. If you’re not sure, check in My Computer or in Windows Disk Management. If there are multiple partitions visible to Windows on the SD card I’m not sure if that matters. In my tests it always created an image from the entire device. Now choose the name and location of the file you want to write by clicking the folder icon to the right of the image file name form field. Once you’ve done this, click the “READ” button to create the .img file on your computer. Please note, the size of the file you are creating is equal to the size of the SD card you have, so if you’ve got a 16 GB SD card you’ll end up with a 16 GB file. Make sure you have room! Once you are done, safely eject the SD card and replace it with the new SD card you will over-write. And if drive letters didn’t change, click the “WRITE” button back in Win32DiskImager. And voila! Once you’ve done that you need to expand the last partition on your new SD card, otherwise your space is not available to the OS. For that use gparted or EASUS Partition Manager.

SD Card Recommendations

The huge question everyone wants to know the answer to is what SD cards are usable for SD-installs of the OS?  The sad truth is, I'm not sure.  All we have is a mixed bag of anecdotal reports, with more people reporting what doesn't work than what does.  And many who report the same make/model have different experiences.

Not Working Reliably

  • Patriot LX Class 10 - 8 GB, 16 GB
  • PNY Class 4 - 16 GB

Working Reliably

  • Sandisk class 2 (from Costco) - 8 GB

Senkun passed along this scary info on counterfeit SD cards and just how prevalent they are.  "Flash chips which are defective and rejected and supposed to be destroyed are being resold and picked up by counterfeiters to reprogram and repackage. HUGE profits."  http://sosfakeflash.wordpress.com/

What is ADB and do I need it?

ADB is the Android Debugging Bridge.  It was required for many of the early rooting methods and required to install some of the necessary base packages (e.g., Market, Google Apps).  None of the current OS installs require ADB, so unless you are a developer or want to take screen shots, or want to remotely access the shell, you can forget all about ADB.  If you need to manually install a package (.apk) you downloaded from the Internet you can do this without ADB, you simply get the file onto your Nook Color somehow (via the SD card, via direct download in the browser, via a Windows/SMB/CIFS share) and open the file with a suitable third-party file explorer (which is most of them).  Since these packages (.apk files) are almost certainly unsigned (I assume it’s related to signature) you need to allow these unofficial programs in the settings (most file explorers will explain this to you and tell you what you need to change when you try to install the file).

Trouble with ADB?

If you are using ADB and run into trouble semi-obvious things to try include:

  • Make sure the Nook Color is actually powered on at the time you try and talk to it. I don’t recall if it’s a problem on CM 7 like it was on Froyo, I suspect not, but I remember half the time I’d go try and issue an ADB command and realize the unit had turned its screen off and was taking a light nap.
  • Try issuing commands without listing the devices, just try “adb shell” and see if it connects.

I know Google App was Installed but Market is Missing?

Market should show up if you are wifi connected. Maybe you weren’t connected at the moment you tried to look for and access the Market. If this doesn’t solve it, you could try re-installing the Google Apps. Repeat the step in the verygreen instructions for this. (Copy the google apps zip to the SD card and boot while holding power and N for 6 seconds.)

How do I Browse the Web as though I was on a Computer, getting the Full Web Experience?

If you're using the free Dolphin HD web browser app you should install the Desktop Toggle add on, it’s mentioned on my must have app list.  That allows you to easily switch between mobile and desktop views of the web.  Or you can just go into Dolphin's settings and change the "user agent" setting.

Is Overclocking Dangerous or Going to Damage My Nook Color?

Modern processors conserve battery life (and heat) by adjusting their speed as demand for the CPU fluctuates.  The CPU has a maximum and minimum speed setting as well as a governor formula for deciding how and under what conditions it will adjust its speed.  Because of this ability to dynamically adjust speed even though you may have your CPU overclocked it's actually not going to be running at the overclocked speeds until and unless there is a demand for it.  For this reason overheating and damage is far less likely to occur than it was 10 years ago with fixed speed processors where the processors were forced to run permanently above their comfortable or rated capacities.

I have seen no one express serious concern about these CPUs being damaged by overclocking, but perhaps under certain conditions, like running an app that pegs the CPU at 100% for hours, they could be.

I personally would not overclock if I was going to watch movies that were dependent on purely software decoding (versus hardware decoding) because of this concern, but if you use most video players and use movies in the proper format this isn't a problem.

How do I Tether?

I don't believe Bluetooth PAN tethering support is available as yet, and I thought I read something which suggested it might be a long way off.  I tether very successfully via WiFi using the MyWi app on a jailbroken iPhone.

Downloads are very slow!  What's wrong?

If you are using a Froyo SD-install, I think this is just the nature of the beast.  If you're on anything else the problem is almost certainly with your SD cards being slow.  Use the free SD Tools app to measure your SD card read/write speed, and if you're getting anything under 4 - 5 MB/s for write and 10 + MB/s for read you need to buy another card!

If you are seeing this when downloading many things from the Market at once, such as happens when you let Market restore your apps to a new device, the problem seems to relate to the SD card being saturated with simultaneous attempts to read/write.  Downloads are effectively all stalled and you're just stuck.  I don't know if this only happens on SD-installs or would happen on an eMMC install as well.  I don't know of a fix, I just had to prevent Market from automatically restoring my apps and instead restored them manually and with Titanium Backup.

The Dock / ADW Loses Its Icons, What's going on?

If you see icons in the dock (stock ADW) randomly disappear this is caused usually by one of two things.  If you are using an SD-installed OS your SD card isn't working reliably and the filesystem is reverting to read-only and/or the ADW is crashing.  It loses its state and you lose your icon.  If this isn't the case (or even if it is) a secondary problem occurs where your finger is held down too long on an icon in the dock (or the system hangs momentarily so it mistakenly thinks you held your finger down too long) and it it makes the icon drag-able.  If you immediately replace the icon in the dock it will appear as though it's there and all is fine but when you reboot that spot will be empty and your icon/shortcut will just be gone completely (not on the desktop).  When this situation happens, when you realize it has made that icon dragable and it has dragged it off the dock, leave it on the desktop and reboot to put it back.

If you lose the app drawer open/close icon (the checkerboard one in the center) you can recreate it by going to the desktop, hold down your finger long enough for the "Add to Home screen" dialog to come up, then choose "Launcher Actions" then choose "Open/close App Drawer".  It will place the icon on your desktop and you can place it back in the dock.

My Nook Color Powers On When Plugged into My Computer

The default behavior is, I think, for the device to always turn itself on when connected to a computer.  I don't know of a way to disable that.

What is ClockworkMod / ROM Manager?

Read my guide to ClockworkMod / ROM Manager.

What's a Good Handwriting Recognition App?

Phatware’s products have always impressed me. I think their Android app is called PhatPad.

Bluetooth FAQ

Trouble Turning Bluetooth On?

If you're having trouble turning Bluetooth on, there's a trick that was required by early CyanogenMod 7 installs and it may apply to you.

  1. Turn off wifi (Settings > Wireless & Networks > Wi-Fi)
  2. Reboot
  3. Turn on Bluetooth (Settings > Wireless & Networks > Bluetooth)
  4. Turn on wifi

It seems a bit odd, but that's what you have to do.  From then on out it'll work fine.

How do I use a Bluetooth Keyboard?

Pair as you normally pair a Bluetooth keyboard to a device, that all works just as you'd expect.  But, if you don't do this next step you'll likely want to throw your keyboard and Nook Color out the window within the first 30 minutes of typing.

When you type on your Bluetooth keyboard the virtual keyboard will very likely appear, or re-appear if you've hidden it.  You close the keyboard, you type, maybe it stays closed for a moment or two, but invariably it opens up again.  And, because it's open not only do you have much of your screen real estate wasted by a keyboard you're not using, your physical keyboard presses will often linger long enough to pop up the Gingerbread character selector.  In other words, type "e" on the keyboard and about 5% of the time it will think you held "e" down in order to bring up the list of international "e" variations, which you then need to close.  And, as if that's not annoying enough, the predictive text completion that will go on with the virtual keyboard open will lead to sometimes sluggish responses to your keypresses, and even missing text.  The solution?

Buy and install the Null Keyboard ($2)!  It's money well spent.  You install it, enable it in settings, and then when you are going to use your BT keyboard you hold your finger down on an input box for a few seconds, it asks you to choose your input method, you choose Null Keyboard, and voila!  You can now type on your BT keyboard with joy.  And when you put away the keyboard don't forget you'll need to switch the input back to your Android (or Gingerbread) keyboard next time you need to type with the virtual one.

How do I get Bluetooth GPS Working?

Android doesn't natively speak the language of the Bluetooth GPS devices, so you'll need a third-party app to talk to your Bluetooth GPS and make its data available to your apps which are expecting GPS data.  Fortunately the app you need is free.  The one I use is “Bluetooth GPS Provider”.

  • Pair your Bluetooth GPS device with your Nook Color.
  • Download and install "Bluetooth GPS Provider".
  • Run Bluetooth GPS Provider.
  • Click the "Start" button.
  • Wait a few seconds.  If you don't see a list of satellites your GPS has acquired, or you see some error try the following in order:
    • Press Stop and then Start to try again.
    • Select your GPS device from the list of Bluetooth devices in the app's settings (it may be trying to use the wrong device or may not be set)
    • Try restarting the app (if you have a task manager app installed use this to kill the process and restart, otherwise reboot)
    • Try letting the app run for a while
    • Powering the GPS sender on and off

My own experience has been good but unpredictable.  Sometimes it just works and other times I need to go through those troubleshooting steps I just listed to make it work.   I haven’t figured out what the secret is. I'm not sure what the minimal number of steps is to get it working.  If anyone knows, please tell me!  I work from home so the GPS aspect of my Nook Color is a bit of a novelty.

How do I use Skype / VOIP on Nook Color with Bluetooth Headset?

I've heard it's possible, I assume it's possible, but I've not found absolute proof that anyone has done it.  If you have or have a link to info on it, please let me know.

My own Bluetooth headset is a few years old and the battery is irretrievably dead, and to be honest I don't want to look like one of those guys with the earpiece in their ear.  I Skype from my phone with stereo wired headset.

Can I tether with Bluetooth PAN?

See tethering section above.  Basically Bluetooth tethering is not an option at this time, you'll need to use wifi for tethering.

Comments (13) Trackbacks (1)
  1. Hi Quinxy – First off, kudos for your clear and concise writing. As a total newbie to modding/hacking/whatever, I appreciate the plain vocabulary and explanations. I enjoyed your other writings as well. As for the Nook Color I’m using the 7.02 stable release of CM7 with good success. I started with a Crucial 2GB class 2 uSD card with no problems and just moved to an ADATA 16GB class 6 card. So far so good. One note on wifi: I was having intermittent problems but came across a post (somewhere) that suggested going into advanced wifi settings and setting the sleep policy to never. Works well so far, but no idea what effect it will have on battery life. So far so good. Thanks again for your clear instructions and insights. Now if I could just use my Droid to tether a 3G signal to the Nook….

  2. In response to your question about best flash cards for running CM7 I would like to refer you to this thread.
    http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1005633

    Conclusion: get the Sandisk class 2. Here’s eight pages of people saying it worked for them when none of their better cards would. I got mine for $12 from Office Depot and haven’t had a force close since.

  3. Irisclara

    Thank you for this! I’ll update the docs with this info.

  4. Oops, I just realized (after actually looking at my card) that it’s a class 4. Over here someone says that Sandisk has stopped marking their cards class 4 but they still benchmark as class 4.

    http://forum.androidcentral.com/barnes-noble-nook-color/83335-cant-find-sandisk-class-4s.html

    Thanks for the guides. They’ve been very helpful.

  5. Hi
    Thanks for all the great install guides.
    I’m going to use your guides to install CM7 from an SD card.
    However, I have already successfully rooted my Color Nook a few months ago using one of the autonooders from the XDA forum. I would have to research to remember which one I used… Sorry

    Bottomline, do I need to do anything to my nook BEFORE I try to boot the CM7 build (following your guide) from the SD card?

    Sorry to be so dull in my understanding of this issue. 🙂

    Thanks in advance.
    Paul

  6. Paul,

    You need nothing before setting up and using the SD bootable install. When you boot that way the system never even looks at the internal memory during boot or execution (unless you manually access it for files).

  7. Quinxy,
    Thank you so much for the input to my previous question above.
    Whew…. so far so good!!
    I have followed your guide and successfully am currently booting CM7.0.3 from a SanDisk 8 G uSD card.

    Unfortunately, although I have continued to carefully follow “verygreen” instructions on how to next install Gapps, I have not been successful.

    I have downloaded and copied the most current Gapps-…zip to the uSD card using my computer (Windows) reading the card via a USB connected SD card reader. Unfortunately, after returning the uSD card to the NC and either trying the semi-complex, power off button and N button, or using Verygreen’s suggestion of ….

    “Alternatively if you do not want to fight the timing, boot normally into Android, then from desktop hold power key until a poweroff menu appears, In the poweroff menu choose “reboot”, in the next menu choose “recovery” and press “OK”. The nook would reboot straight into recovery.”

    does not work…

    I have tried searching the XDA forum, but didn’t seem to find this exact issue. Bummer, I have now spent almost 6 hours of preparing and “performing” this upgrade (granted, I am still a semi-newbie). I am VERY excited to see the new “splash” screen and see the layout for the new version of the Android OS (2.3.3) on my Nook Color. If only…. I could get the Gapps to load. 🙂

    Do you have any thoughts on my issue? Maybe somewhere else to search for the answer?

    AGAIN…. THANKS in advance.

    Paul

    PS… where are all the apps (such as kids games, utilities, new keyboards etc) that I have loaded on my Nook Color over the last 4 months? Do I need to get/use Titanium backup to move files from (??) to the “new” bootable CM7 uSD card?

    Thanks.

  8. Quinxy
    Solved my Gapps installation problem latelast night. I won’t bore you with details. Bottomline… newbie confusion that the stàbleCM7.0.3 is OLDER than nightly build 87 that Verygreen references in his instructions…. sigh….

    Thanks again.

    Still have my question about previously installed apps (specifically purchased from Amazon app store).

    Paul

  9. Paul

    I think I cover this somewhere, so you might want to look around if you need more detail, but yes, what I did was to boot without the SD installed OS, use Titanium Backup to backup all the installed apps (NOT system stuff) but WITH user settings to an unused SD card. When done I put this SD card in my computer, popped the SD with the OS back in the Nook Color and booted into it. I then mounted that SD card from the Nook Color via the USB cable (using the usb mass storage utility on my must have app list) and copied all the backups from the SD card in the computer (the one with the backups) to the expected place on the Nook Color’s SD card partition. Once that’s done you run Titanium Backup from the SD installed OS and restore your missing apps and their data. NOTE: When I do this I am careful to do all the “safe” apps first in a group, stuff which isn’t by Google, stuff that isn’t likely to have any dependencies with the OS, then I do the remaining few apps one at a time to make sure I don’t end up in trouble. I have had very good luck using this approach and keeping all data/apps, including moving Amazon apps, but with a couple apps I did have to either clear their data or uninstall/reinstall. Even so, the entire process of moving 50+ apps took my under 45 minutes by using Titanium Backup, and I lost settings in only one or two apps (and the settings were things I could transfer other ways).

  10. Quincy
    Once again, many thanks!

    Loving my NC more than ever before ( thanks, in great part to your guides & posting responses to my sometimes ignorant question 🙂

    Paul

  11. Hi Quinxy,

    I would like to begin by saying Thank You for all of the information you have provided on your site, your hard work and dedication is greatly appreciated.

    I noticed you listed the PNY 16GB class 4 microSD card as being unreliable. I purchased that same card a couple months back and have had zero problems with mine. I originally wanted one of the faster class 10 cards but never found one to be definitively considered flawless when used in a Nook Color, and to me it really wasn’t going to matter much because I was planning to flash my ROM to the eMMC anyway. I decided that my Nook Color had been a virgin long enough so I ran over to WalMart and picked up the previously referenced PNY card. So far I couldn’t be happier.

  12. YQuinxy,
    First of all, thank you for such a wonderful guide for modding the Nook Color. I had the same problem installing gapps that happened to Paul-man. I re-imaged the SD with the basic image and copied both zip files on the SD for the initial system build. It worked beautifully!
    The problem I have now is installing flash. Market only has 10.3 and blocks me from downloading and installing the file. I edited the build file to look like a Nexus S phone, but there is no joy in Mudville. I am still pretty mucha noobie at this stuff. The 10.2 file is available elsewhere but I am not sure which sites are trustworthy.
    Djairae

  13. Djairae –

    I’m afraid I don’t have any specific solutions for you regarding Flash, I have not encountered that problem myself (but I may still be at 10.2). In all honesty once I had a nice, comfortable, reliable, fully-featured setup I stopped tinkering (also because I got the Evo 3D Android phone and started tinkering there instead). In general, though, I can say that you should be able to feel pretty confident using apks (like a 10.3 manual update) if it’s posted by a reputable dev on XDA-DEV, they obviously take their positions within the community pretty seriously. I’ve never heard of a problem (malware/virus/etc.) as a result of someone using such an apk from such a user, but obviously there’s always that chance/possibility; we could each of us be hit by a bus tomorrow crossing the street, too… I wish you the best of luck.


Leave a comment