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The Misadventures of Quinxy von Besiex truths, lies, and everything in between

27Apr/112

Problems with your modified Nook Color install / setup? Basic question?

I just went through all the comments over the last few weeks and assembled a pretty good FAQ covering the basic questions that come up as well as quite a few solutions to problems frequently experienced with the Nook Color, across different OS installations and types.

So, if you're having any trouble or just new to all this, it's a good place to start:

Nook Color Modding FAQ

If there's anything you want added, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do.

^ Quinxy

 

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14Apr/11107

Complete Guide to Phiremod (CyanogenMod 7) Install and Configuration on Nook Color

Updated 5/3/2011 for latest Phiremod 6.2 (stay tuned for 6.3 which will likely include deep sleep and the return to stock battery life!)

If you are new to Nook Color operating system and install options, I strongly recommend reading this guide to picking your Nook Color operating system and installer.  If you're new to Android you can try Android for free on your computer with a virtual machine, before trying it for real on a device.

This guide and about 30 minutes will set you up with a Nook Color running the latest stable, available version of Google's Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS.  You'll void your warranty, but get a slew of new features, performance benefits, and make your Kindled friends jealous as hell.  Oh, and did I mention Bluetooth support?  Your Nook Color can do VOIP (e.g., Skype), GPS navigation, can send music to wireless headets or stereos, and much more!  If you have any basic questions or run into trouble, please check out this Nook Color Modding FAQ which might save us both some time.

What is Phiremod?

Phiremod is a customized install of Android Gingerbread (in the form of CyanogenMod 7) that runs on the Barnes & Noble Nook Color.  As distributed it is intended to replace the Nook Color's original, stock operating system, overwriting those portions of the internal memory (eMMC); there is a way to install to SD which will be mentioned below.  The customizations to CyanogenMod 7 are largely cosmetic, but include the addition of a few useful apps and the removal of certain features not relevant to a Nook Color (e.g., text messaging).  Phiremod's intended mechanism for install is via the de facto ROM manager, ClockworkMod, and its recovery console which allows you to do many things, including install and upgrade ROMs (and/or kernels).  If you want to avoid altering your Nook Color, see my guide to installing CyanogenMod 7 to SD card, but read my next item explaining my rationale for personally going with a phiremod, eMMC install; if you have problems with your SD cards you may need to either keep trying with new ones until it works or go with this eMMC install.

My goal in this document is to help less technical people through the slightly more technical and slightly more we-assume-you-know what-you're-doing original installation instructions,  covering things left out, additional problems you might encounter, and configuration you might want to do post install.  Phiremod is officially documented on PhireDrop's blog and on xda-dev.

Rationale for Phiremod eMMC install over Verygreen SD Install

While I've been generally pleased with my CyanogenMod 7 install to SD card, I've been plagued with certain serious problems that few others seem to report.  Those problems include frequent app "force close" errors and filesystem corruption.  The force close problems seem to occur most frequently with Google Apps (gapps) and Google Framework, but also other apps as well.  The filesystem corruption manifests itself as files suddenly becoming unreadable to the apps which created them.  When I directly look at the file system I find the files still exist, they have contents, and they have proper ownership/permissions but attempts to open them in their apps generate vague errors suggesting the app no longer recognizes their format.  Since I had previously experienced similar but more extreme problems with my Patriot LX class 10 card it seemed most likely that these problems were similarly related to my new SD card, a PNY class 4.  Rather than go out and buy more SD cards hoping to find one that worked flawlessly (and not being absolutely certain the problem wasn't related to something else) the best course of action seemed to be to try one of the Nook Color CyanogenMod 7 eMMC installs.  And, really, only one seems popular and regularly updated, that one being Phiremod.

While I was reluctant to give up the elegant warranty-preserving (arguable) SD-based install, losing the original ROM, losing the easy ability to upgrade when the new official Barnes & Noble ROM comes out this month, in all reality I'm never going to use the stock ROM anyway.  And, thanks to sources like the crew on xda-dev, stock ROMs are floating around in case I really do want or need to revert.

Another option is available, for those who want to try.  You can create a dual boot setup.  There would be little advantage for me, but it's worth noting for those who may need it.

Now that I've used an eMMC-based CM 7 install for a week I can confirm it has resolved all my problems with force closes and file corruption.  My Nook Color is now a truly stable platform.  So, if you are having trouble with your SD-cased CM 7 installs and have no other SD cards left to try, I strongly recommend you give in and try an eMMC install like phiremod.

Step 1: Install ClockwordMod

The phiremod install is a ClockworkMod (CWM) install, which means it is installed by going into the ClockworkMod Recovery console to install it.  This recovery mode is a special pre-OS environment where special recovery tools are available.  The easiest way to install CWM (that I currently know of) on a stock Nook Color is to use the Auto Nooter 3.0. rooting tool.  The process is pretty straight forward, and basically involves burning an image to an SD card, rebooting with that SD card, then configuring your Nook Color to enable the new features.  From what I understand some people (but only some) lose the use of the original Barnes & Noble e-reader software, though you can re-add a lesser version of it once you've got the new phiremod setup installed; a few users reported the loss of access to magazines and children's books.  If you need more help with ClockworkMod install see my unofficial manual for ClockworkMod.

Go perform Auto Nooter install now.

I strongly recommend that once you complete that process you go to the market and make sure ClockworkMod is updated (it is installed as part of Auto Nooter, but the version may be old).  ClockworkMod is listed in the Market and in your application screen as "ROM Manager" (not ClockworkMod).

Step 2: Install Phiremod

The following instructions are up to date as of 3 May 2011.  You may wish to double check them against the official blog if much time has elapsed since the last update.  If something changes, please post a comment and I'll update these instructions ASAP.

Phiremod 6.2 is the latest, but stay tuned for 6.3 which will likely include Dalingrin's CM 7 fixes that will allow the Nook Color to deep sleep like the stock Nook Color, meaning huge improvements in battery life!

Pre-Install Notes

  • This document covers an as distributed install to internal memory, if you want to install phiremod to an SD card instead of eMMC please consult this third-party guide.
  • For best battery performance, do the install on a Nook Color that has been charged overnight to 100%.  Battery statistics/calibration will be reset during the install, and those stats are what help your device charge its battery all the way.  Failing to do this may mean your device thinks half full is 100%, and it may take some time to unlearn this, leaving you with shorter battery life in the mean time.  You may also need to reset the battery statistics manually to correct this.

Instructions

  1. Download phiremod v6
  2. To be safe you should check the md5 of the files you download, or if you don't have a hash checking tool you can always use the archive "Test" feature in most Zip programs.  This step ensures your download wasn't corrupted and you won't end up with a Nook Color that's been badly flashed.
  3. Power off your Nook Color
  4. Boot into the latest ClockworkMod Recovery with the SD card re-inserted  (see instructions below if you don't know how)
  5. Format System and Data within ClockworkMod Recovery (see instructions below if you don't know how)
  6. Install phiremod zip within ClockworkMod Recovery (see instructions below if you don't know how)
  7. Reboot
  8. Let your Nook Color sit for 5 minutes or so to allow the various caches to build after first boot.
  9. Set the clock.  Go to Settings (app) > Date & Time > Uncheck "Automatic" and select your time zone.
  10. Log into wifi.  Go to Settings (app) > Wireless & Networks > Wi-Fi Settings and choose your wifi router.
  11. Run Market (app) and sign in.  Market will show up in the app drawer only if you have a network connection.  If it still doesn't show up, reinstall phiremod (repeat from step 4 on).
  12. Reboot

Getting into ClockworkMod Recovery Mode

To go into ClockworkMod Recovery you have two options, the first is to use the Reboot into Recovery option of the ROM Manager app (or power off option of a pre-existing recent OS) or the failsafe hardware key option.  The latter is achieved by following these instructions:

  • Turn off your Nook Color (hold the power button down so long that the device shuts off or shut it off from the shutdown menu, make sure it is not plugged into your computer otherwise it will turn itself back on!)
  • Press and hold the power and "N" buttons so long that the Nook Color turns itself on then after 8 - 10 seconds it will turn itself off.
  • Press the power button just long enough to turn it back on.
  • ClockworkMod Recovery will begin

ClockworkMod Install Tips

Installing phiremod is pretty easy, but the phiremod instructions assume you know how to navigate the ClockworkMod Recovery Console.  I'll lead you through the actual menu selections.

Navigation within ClockworkMod Recovery

  • Volume Up - moves the selector up a row
  • Volume Down - moves the selector down a row
  • "N" button - selects the current item
  • Power - back to the parent menu

Format System and Data

Per the phiremod instructions you need to clear the system and data on your eMMC installation.

In CWM you need to choose the following menu items:

  1. Select "Mounts and storage", press N
  2. Select "format system"
  3. Confirm by scrolling down to the appropriate row and pressing N
  4. Select "format data"
  5. Confirm by scrolling down to the appropriate row and pressing N

Install Phiremod

In CWM you need to choose the following menu items:

  1. Select "install zip from sdcard", press N
  2. Select "choose zip from sdcard", press N
  3. Select "phiremod-nook-V6.zip", press N

And then you wait patiently while it is installed.  Then reboot.

Wipe Dalvik-Cache

Any time you install a new kernel or new overall update, you need to reset the cache (see next entry) and the Dalvik-cache. 

In CWM you need to choose the following menu items:

  1. Select "Advanced", press N
  2. Select "Wipe Dalvik-Cache"
  3. Confirm by scrolling down to the appropriate row and pressing N

Wipe Dalvik-Cache

Any time you install a new kernel or new overall update, you need to reset the cache and the Dalvik-cache (see previous entry). 

In CWM you need to choose the following menu items:

  1. Select "Format Cache", press N
  2. Confirm by scrolling down to the appropriate row and pressing N

First Time Boot Slowness

On first boot the system will be slow as it generates lots of cache and dalvik cache contents.  The dalvik cache is a cache unique to the Java based architecture running on top of the OS. Each app you run (technically I think each class within each app) gets precompiled by the just in time (JIT) compiler into a file stat is stored in the dalvik cache.  This means future runs of the program will start much faster.  Since a fresh install has no such entry, each app which runs will cause one of these files to be generated.

That should be enough to get you started.

Step 3: Adding Important Apps

Phiremod (and CM 7 on which it is based) is great, but you'll need some other free apps to really get the best experience out of it.  The list had gotten rather long so I have now put it on its own page.  I strongly recommend you go now and install all of the free Must Have Apps for your Nook Color.

You can obviously add more apps at this time, but walking that list you will cover the basics and be in good shape to proceed.

Step 4: Overclocking!

The phiremod install includes a kernel which can do overclocking, so all you need to do is enable it.  It appears to be pretty stable, pretty safe, and potentially makes your Nook Color 40% faster than when you bought it!  It can arguably run faster than the Samsung Galaxy Tab and Motorola Xoom!

To turn on overclocking go to Settings > CyanogenMod Settings > Performance > CPU Settings > Max CPU Frequency and select 1100.

You may also which to change the "Governor" to "Interactive" and the "Min CPU Frequency" to 800.

Step 5: Bluetooth

If you are planning to use the Bluetooth features, you'll want to check out the Bluetooth section of the FAQ.  It covers all the basics, including setting up a Bluetooth keyboard and GPS receiver.

Step 6: Backup

The easiest way to back up with a ClockworkMod enabled system is to use its backup system.  Boot into the recovery mode, see above, and then select "backup and restore" from the top level menu, then "backup".  The process takes about 10 - 15 minutes and writes a backup of your system to your SD card; make sure your SD card has sufficient room.  To back up individual applications and their data I recommend Titanium Backup as well as periodic backups of your SD card (either its individual contents or making an image of it).

Step 7: Keeping Up to Date

Once you've got your system up and running you'll inevitably want to update it as new bug fixes and features are released.  With a phiremod install this is done using, again, the ClockworkMod recovery console.

  1. Download the latest phiremod v6 (this is the full install)
  2. To be safe you should check the md5 of the files you download, or if you don't have a hash checking tool you can always use the archive "Test" feature in most Zip programs.  This step ensures your download wasn't corrupted and you won't end up with a Nook Color that's been badly flashed.
  3. Reboot into recovery (choose the Reboot into Recovery from the Power Off menu or use the alternative power + N method)
  4. Format Cache partition within ClockworkMod Recovery (see instructions above if you don't know how).  (Do not format the Dalvik-Cache yet, it's a separate menu choice, but it'll lock up your system, so we save that step for last.)
  5. Install phiremod zip within ClockworkMod Recovery (see instructions above if you don't know how)
  6. Format the Dalvik-Cache from within the Advanced menu. 
  7. Your system will likely lock up after it wipes the Dalvik-Cache, so just power off by holding the power button and then power back on.

NOTE:
Some users experience wifi problems on power on, just enable and disable wifi in the settings app to fix; this may occur on every power reset.

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14Apr/1110

Anyone having Nook Color CyanogenMod 7 SD Filesystem Corruption / Problems?

I'm just posting this in case other people are having similar problems with their Nook Color's running CyanogenMod 7 off SD cards.  While I've been mostly satisfied, I have also been frustrated by some frequent (5-10 a day) force close messages (usually gapps or google framework related), some apps that just seem to always throw force close messages (a comic reader), and some files which suddenly become unreadable by the apps that generated them.  I had assumed the problems were just teething related to the rapid pace of development in getting Android Gingerbread on the Nook Color, but so few other people seemed to report the problem.  So today after losing a two documents I'd written on my device I had enough; the files were still on the device, had the right permissions, the right ownership, and I could view the contents as text, but the app which created them refused to open them.  I decided to try the eMMC route and ditch the SD cards in favor of a phiremod install of CM 7. Remarkably in the day I've now been using this eMMC install I haven't had a single force close, if I was still running my old set up I would have had at least 5 by now.  It appears installing the OS to internal memory has resolved all my problems.

To try phiremod yourself, read my phiremod instructions install and configuration guide.

^ Quinxy

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10Apr/112

CyanogenMod 7 Released / Stable for Nook Color!

CyanogenMod 7 is now officially released and stable for Nook Color (Encore) users!  I've updated my detailed installation guide accordingly, so go install it!  If you already know what to do, download it directly from the Team Douche mirrors.

New features include a simplified / clearer status bar, now located at the bottom of the screen, addition of a button in the status bar to pop open/closed the notification list, and optionally keeping the status bar visible even for full screen apps, so you won't need a third-party program like Button Savior.

^ Quinxy

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