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

28Apr/1110

Did your Stock Nook Color Reset and Erase Itself with the Firmware Update Bug? Try this.

Many happy Barnes & Noble Nook Color users were horrified yesterday to discover that their beloved Nook Color, during an over-the-air (OTA) firmware upgrade, had reset itself, possibly erasing all data and leaving users with a factory-fresh device they needed to re-register.  Making matters worse, many if not most of these users were then unable to register.  For some, their Nook Color would no longer connect to any wifi networks, and for others the B&N backend was either overwhelmed or simply broken.

If you were one of the many affected, I am so very sorry for the annoyance and frustration you're experiencing.

If the device didn't do a hard reset and simply de-registered and upgraded the firmware and is simply keeping you from successfully booting into the upgraded OS you should be able to regain access to your files by creating an SD-based OS install using my Guide to installing CyanogenMod 7 on SD card.

You can then browse to your internal eMMC memory and copy any of your data from there.  It'll take you about 30 - 45 minutes to make the SD-based install.  All you need to do then is browse to /mnt/emmc and that is the root of your internal memory.  Most of your files would be under /mnt/emmc/My Files and /mnt/emmc/B&N Downloads.

Let me know if this helps or if you have any questions!

^ Quinxy

PS - Once you recover your data, or even if you don't, this might be a great time to consider ditching the stock Barnes & Noble firmware in favor of the newer, better, less restricted CyanogenMod 7 (Android 2.3, Gingerbread based) OS.  Consider your options by reading this document on what OS installs you can do with a Nook Color.

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2011 Quinxy von Besiex
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

 

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2011 Quinxy von Besiex
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

Digiprove sealCopyright protected by Digiprove © 2011 Quinxy von Besiex
1Apr/11286

Complete Guide to Installing, Configuring CyanogenMod 7 Stable Release (Android 2.3, Gingerbread) on the Nook Color

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.  And if you're just starting to explore what Android is and are a little hesitant, you can always try Android for free on your computer with a virtual machine.

Within 30 minutes your Nook Color can be running the latest stable, available version of Google's Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) OS (technically the CyanogenMod 7 Stable manifestation of it), and thanks to its use of the SD card, all safely achieved without altering your existing Nook Color's setup or violating the warranty.  Included in all the new features, performance benefits, and elevation of your own personal coolness, you get Bluetooth support.  The Nook Color can do VOIP (e.g., Skype), GPS navigation, sending music to wireless headets or stereos, and much more!

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 verygreen's CyanogenMod 7 (CM 7) to SD install instructions,  covering things left out, additional problems you might encounter, and configuration you might want to do post install.  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.

Be aware, I experienced lingering and frustrating stability and file system corruption issues with several installs to several SD cards.  Other people are not having this experience, but if you do be aware that your SD cards may be too "fast".  Your choice is then to try and find other workable SD cards or do an eMMC (internal memory) install, such as you'll find in my guide to phiremod install on the Nook Color.

Step 1: Installing CM7 Stable to your SD card

The first step is to follow verygreen's instructions on how to take the SD card image he made, combined with the latest updated CM7 install, combined with the Google apps pack (gapps) to get a bootable system.

Before you begin, though, let me give you some tips.

  • Windows users will need Win32DiskImager to flash the requisite .img file to your SD card.  It's free, download Win32DiskImager now.
  • Mac / Linux / FreeBSD users will use "dd" to flash the requisite .img file to your SD card.  The command you will execute looks like:
    # dd if=generic-sdcard-v1.1.img of=/dev/sdcard
    If needed, replace /dev/sdcard with the real path of your mounted SD card and specify the real path of the data image (after unpacking the gz version you downloaded).
  • I strongly recommend against using class 10 rated SD cards!  Testing over several days proved that my system would not run reliably (tons of "force close" errors and the file system reverting to read-only) on a class 10 rated card, the Patriot LX series.  Whereas the system works flawlessly on my PNY class 4 card, which cost less than half as much and actually operates just as fast, according to SD Tools it writes at 12 MB/s and reads at 84 MB/s read, which exceeds class 10.
  • If you insist on using a class 10 card, the verygreen install script will probably hang when it goes to create the disk structure.  A workaround for this is to first burn the image to a working (and dirt cheap, $7-10) class 4 PNY or Sandisk (or other) microSD card (of equivalent or, to be safe, smaller size) and then when you've got the install completed clone the microSD card by using Win32DiskImager to create a .img file of the working class 4 SD card and then write that image to your class 10 SD card.  It's a hassle, you'll be waiting 15 minutes to read, 15 minutes to write, but it works!  And you've now got a backup to boot.  Assuming your class 10 was larger than your class 4 SD card you can then expand the virtual SD partition using any non-destructive partitioning product (the partition is fat32) so that you get all your space used.  If you've got Windows 7, use its Disk Mangement feature to safely expand the partition, if you've got another Windows version you may need to use EASUS's Partition Master Professional Edition ($19)  or Acronis' DiskDirector ($49).
  • The CM7 build you want is "update-cm-7.0.0-encore-signed.zip", so make sure you get that one!  (Obviously if you're reading this document in the distant future, make your best choice!)
  • You might want to initially avoid the Dalingrin OC kernel/ROM upgrade instructions for now, I'll cover that separately below.
  • If you get hung up trying to install the Google apps pack because it seems like the recovery console isn't installing it, you may be going into the wrong recover mode or no mode at all!  Turn off the device and then turn it back on holding both power and N for 6 seconds, one to two seconds after the "Touch the Future of Reading" comes on the screen.  You'll see the Linux penguin at the top and a bunch of console messages, one of which will indicate it's looking for "gapps".  If you don't see that you're not in the right recovery screen!

Those tips being given:

Go to and follow carefully verygreen's CyanogenMod 7 (CM 7) to SD install instructions!

The entire process will only take you about 15 - 20 minutes.  If you were using a class 10 card you can do the class 4 to class 10 clone at this point, or at the very end when you've got everything set up, it's your choice.

 

Step 2: Turn on Bluetooth (optional)

If you're ready to turn on Bluetooth, there's a trick.  If you don't do this, Bluetooth will just refuse to turn on / be enabled.

  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.

Bluetooth Keyboard Instructions

Pair as you normally pair a Bluetooth keyboard, 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.  I am not sure why this is.  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.

 

Step 3: Adding Important Apps

CM7 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.

Obviously you can add more apps beyond those, but you walking that list you will cover the basics and be in good shape to proceed.

 

Step 4: Overclocking!

If you want to at this point you can try some overclocking.  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 as fast as the Samsung Galaxy Tab!

This process is pretty simple, it involves replacing the uImage file on the SD partition of your microSD card with an alternative that has been "hacked" for performance (and/or features).  The one everyone is using now for CM7 is Dalingrin's.

  1. Download the 2.6.29 Dalingrin OC kernel (or earlier version, DO NOT DOWNLOAD THE LATEST) for CM7 on SD card.  You do not want to download the latest, it requires a test build of CM 7 that isn't stable.  Do not pick the wrong kernel!  Follow the link in Dalingrin's kernel announcement thread for the “Froyo and CM7 kernel”. Then choose the most recent dated folder, then pick the kernel called “update-CM7-dalingrin-OC-sd-MMDDYY.zip” (where the MMDDYY is replaced with the date of the recent version).  MAKE SURE YOU PICK THE ONE WITH "CM7" AND "SD" IN THE NAME!
  2. On your Nook Color go into the installed "Terminal Emulator" app, type "su" to make you the superuser.  You should see the prompt change to "#" instead of "$".  If this doesn't change, close out and try again. I've seen Terminal Emulator seem to have issues getting super user permission at first.  Once it has accepted your "su" and the prompt changes, type in "rm -rf /data/dalvik-cache/*".  As soon as this is done, shutdown your Nook Color (hold the power button down, then choose power off) and put the microSD card in your computer.
  3. Rename the existing file in your mounted SD card "uImage" as "uImage.original".
  4. Open the kernel file you downloaded and copy the "uImage" file inside it to the SD card, so it sits next to the original uImage file.
  5. Safely eject the SD card from your computer, pop it in your Nook Color and power on!

Your Nook Color will now be running the latest kernel!

To turn on the overclocking, go to Settings > CyanogenMod Settings > Performance > CPU Settings > Max CPU Frequency.

If something goes wrong and your device won't boot or in some other way seems seriously screwed up, just shut down, pop out the microSD card, put it back into your computer and delete the "uImage" file, and rename the "uImage.original" to "uImage".  Dealing with any problems is beyond the scope of this article, your best bet for support would be the people in this thread. And don't forget, we're doing all this on the microSD, you can always pop-out the microSD and your original Nook Color is still there.

 

Step 5: Backup

You really should back up at this point.  Shut down and make an image of your SD card if possible.  Things can easily get screwed up, corrupted, etc. with an alpha-stage release like this, so it's best to be able to easily get back to where you were.  I've seen a lot of things get corrupted and had to reinstall more than a few things.  Better safe than sorry.  Also, use Titanium Backup to backup your app data!

 

Step 6: 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.  This process is a lot less painful than it used to be, thanks to the clever way these installs are distributed and also thanks to the great apps available for backup and restore.

I do not recommend people update to the 2.6.32 kernel yet, since it requires the test/dev version of CM 7 and isn't ready for prime time yet.  If you do you'll also need to update u-boot file.

The details of how you do this are too big to insert here, but can be found in this separate guide to keeping your Nook Color up to date.

 

Post Script - Addendum

Stability Problems?

If you see a lot of "force close" events happening randomly or you find that files you were working on suddenly become unusable, your problem is most likely with your SD cards.  You can try to find other SD cards that will work, or you can try an eMMC (internal memory) install such as the one I describe in my guide to phiremod install on the Nook Color.

First Impressions

I've been running CM7 for a week now, and tried quite a few kernels along the way.  I am mostly thrilled.  My setup has been stable ever since I ditched the class 10 rated cards.  Everything I need works, including most notably Bluetooth!  Admittedly the range is terrible, but good enough for my purposes, and I'm sure range will improve soon.  Wifi is stable, since the device never sleeps.  And battery life is good, though because the device never sleeps it isn't nearly as good as a stock Nook Color.  The video is works at very respectable frame rate since the RC4 update.  And I've had no trouble with overclocking.

CM7 Versus Froyo

CM7 feels much faster than Froyo, the responsiveness of the interfaces, the boot time, maybe it's all in my head, but hopefully not.  One major issue gone is the crippling slowness of Market downloads/etc. I experienced with Froyo on a class 4 SD card were totally gone on CM7 with the same class 4 SD card.

Don't Forget to Use Your Internal Memory!

You can access the contents of your Nook Color's original, internal memory within your CM7 OS by browsing to /mnt/emmc with an appropriate file manager (see above).  In this way you can still use most (5+ GB) of your internal storage for things like music and video files (not apps, since the system doesn't know to use that location).  So don't forget that space is available if you need it.

Responding to Force Close Messages

Unfortunately at this stage you can expect some instability in the OS, and this seems to manifest itself primarily as "force close" messages when an app fails.  My experience suggests the best thing to do when you get any such message is to reboot.  On my system a force close can correspond with the file system having become or about to become read only.  I assume the OS tries to protect itself by becoming read only and once the system starts going, baby, it's gone!  So, the best policy seems to be to immediately reboot, and if you have any more problems on reboot do the "rm -rf /data/dalvik-cache/*" and reboot again.

One particular force close message I got frequently was from Google apps ("gapps") and Google framework.  I suspect the issue related to network issues, perhaps it trying to run when the wifi wasn't yet reconnected after a wake.  I was able to eliminate this by disabling the automatic sync, go to  Settings > Accounts & sync > Auto-sync and set it to unchecked.  This means my email won't automatically come in, but I can manually retrieve it by choosing "Refresh" from the Gmail menu.  Personally, my phone alerts me on every email, so it's not vital for my tablet to do it as well.  Warning, do not uncheck the "Background data" checkbox on the same page, Market and a few other more vital things will refuse to work if you do that.

Another cause of force closes seems to be corrupted installs / configuration / filesystem.  If an app in particular isn't working try the following, first one, then if you're still having the problem go to the next one, and so on:

  • Clear dalvik-cache and reboot (rm -rf /data/dalvik-cache/*).  Then reboot.
  • Use ClockwordMod's permission fix option.  Then reboot.
  • Backup your data related to the app (using Titanium Backup) then uninstall and reinstall the app using Market.  And only if the app is working try to restore the data (only) from the backup you made.

This approach has resolved several different force close problems I had.

(FYI, ClockworkMod still crashes and reboots the NC when I try to back up a ROM, and refuses utterly to enter CWM recovery on a reboot.)

As I mentioned above, further testing has suggested that most of my were the result of my using a class 10 card.  Since I cloned my SD card from class 10 to class 4 I've seen almost no instability, and what problems remain are likely down to problems with individual applications and their compatibility.  I'd encourage people to just use class 4 or 6...  And as I mentioned, my PNY class 4 cards all perform as well as my class 10 card, but with greater stability!

Which Kernel?

Dalingrin is frequently releasing new kernels, and it's tempting to jump to the latest, but always check the change log first (in the beginning of his thread) to see if it resolves any problems you have.  Sometimes you may wish to hold off and see how others embrace it.  Ultimately it's a matter of the bugs you can live with versus the ones you can't.

Mobility

I'm thrilled with my new mobile set up, which was only possible with the Bluetooth ability of CM7! I used to do the same with my OQO Model 02, but sadly that device was a little before its time...

(The iGo Stowaway keyboard is the single great gadget I've ever had! I got it for $30 at a Tuesday Morning discount store, and four or five years later it's still the best mobile keyboard I've seen, and they are so loved you can't get an old stock one online for less than $175!)

^ Quinxy

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31Mar/1110

The Ultimate Nook Color CyanogenMod 7 Setup

If you want CM7 yourself, check out my Complete Guide to Installing CyanogenMod 7, which covers the basics of installing on an SD card and issues you may encounter along the way!

CyanogenMod 7 (CM7) was released yesterday and I put it on my Nook Color this morning. Video playback has definitely improved, seems "normal" now. CM7 is amazing, a definite improvement over the Froyo install, in particular because there is Bluetooth and I can go back to using my beautifully awesome iGo Stowaway foldable keyboard! For anyone contemplating moving to CM7 I strongly recommend it. It's not without its faults (seems less stable than Froyo, more "force close" app crashes for me), but the good is worth the bad, especially because very active development will likely address the flaws in the near future; if you don't plan to keep CM7 updated I'd still with Froyo or even wait for Barnes & Noble's official Froyo release next month.

Here's my sweet Nook Color CM7 setup with iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard, I am a master of my mobile domain!

^ Quinxy

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29Mar/1117

Complete Guide to Turning the Nook Color Into a Great Android 2.2 (Froyo) Tablet

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.  And if you want something even better and easier than the Froyo install documented below, check out my more recent Complete Guide to Installing CyanogenMod 7 (CM7) on the Nook.

I recently stumbled onto the most amazing tablet I've seen yet, amazing not because it rivals Apple's iPad or Motorola's Xoom in features but because it blows them away in price (about $250), utility (it's screen is just big enough to be comfortable, just small enough to fit easily in a jacket pocket), and style (it's got a quirky, rugged charm that grows on you). The Barnes & Noble Nook Color was not intended to be a tablet, it was intended to be an e-reader, but some clever folks have figured out how to unleash its potential by unlocking and/or replacing its limited version of Google's Android OS, and by doing so they have created what I think is one of the best tablets out there. It may lack a forward and rear facing camera, it may lack a microphone, but by god is this thing a pleasure to own. And now I'm going to share with you the lessons I learned in a brutal, sleepless weekend trying to get up to speed with the Nook Color modding community and what they could do. If you have a Nook Color and you follow through with the steps outlined in this guide, in a matter of an hour or two you'll have a very stable, highly functional, overclocked Android tablet running Android 2.2 (aka Froyo); more recent versions, 2.3 (Eclair) and 3.0 (Honeycomb), have not yet been sufficiently tailored to be reliable on the Nook Color. Your new Froyo Nook Color will be almost as stable a store bought tablet at half the price, while running at 1.1 GHz, 40% faster than the original Color Nook and about the same speed as other much more expensive tablets like the Samsung Galaxy Tab.

The approach documented here is to run the OS on a bootable microSD card rather than replace the original Nook Color firmware. I like this approach because the performance I'll experience is roughly similar to that using the built-in memory, and I can still access the original device in its original form if I like, for the e-reader features, should I choose to use them. And if the device proves itself defective in time, the device is still "original".

 

 

Step 0: Buy a Nook and a High Speed microSD Card

Before we begin you'll need the hardware, specifically:

  • Barnes & Noble Nook Color $249
  • Buy a microSD card $7 - 15

You want to make sure you get a microSD card that is fast, but stay away from the class 10 rated cards!  I can recommend the PNY class 4 microSD cards because of the three I've purchased all perform at class 10 speeds (they all write at ~12 MB/s and read at ~84 MB/s) and they actually work well in the Nook Color.  The class 10 Patriot LX SD cards I bought behaved very badly, making my system very unstable; the kernel would freak out randomly and every app would start to crash as the filesystem became read only.  My experience was not unique, people using all makes of class 10 cards have had problems getting them to work reliable (if at all) with the Nook Color.

 

Step 1: Make Android Froyo SD card

Simply follow the painless guide on NookDevs and within a few minutes you'll have a bootable microSD with Froyo on it that you can stick in your Nook Color:

NookDev Guide to Burning a Bootable Froyo SD Card

Note:
You'll only be using a fraction of the total size of the card at this point, we'll cover accessing the rest of it later.

 

Step 2: Android Debug Bridge

To add the initial, critical apps (e.g., Google's Market, app store) and do the required customization you will need to install the Android Debug Bridge (ADB) tools as well as the necessary USB drivers, and a Java JDK if you don't have one:

NookDev Guide to Installing ADB for the Nook Color

The process isn't fun, but you only have to do it once.

Note:
Make sure to change your Windows PATH variable to include the platform-tools folder (where adb.exe is located). I have found that some adb commands will not accept the path to a file as a parameter, and will tell you the file does not exist even though it does (very frustrating and confusing). By including the platform-tools directory you can run adb from the directory where the file in question is so that you have no such problems.

 

Step 3: Basic Froyo Customization

It is now time to do the basic mods of your vanilla Froyo install to make the Nook Color a fully functional (and usable) tablet. Here again we rely on the great:

NookDev Tips for Froyo

Notes:
Walk through this document doing all the items listed. Be careful to note the text indicating which steps are not required because your version of Froyo already includes those enhancements. Also, I recommend against doing the Adobe Flash step listed on this page, as it did not appear to do anything for me. Below I list apps you should add to your device and Adobe Flash will be covered there.

Ignore the section on overclocking, we'll tackle that separately down below.

Softkeys Versus Remapped Volume Keys
The reason you want to map the hardware keys is because the Nook Color is missing two critical physical buttons that you desperately need, Menu and Back. If you don't map the hardware keys (in the section Remapping Volume Buttons to MENU and BACK Buttons) you can use the Softkeys app, which will make virtual buttons appear on screen when you need them by clicking an always-on-top virtual button. Personally I think you'd be silly to use Softkeys, since these keys are so needed. Adjusting your volume is far less critical; I separately add a widget to the home screen to easily adjust volume.

Slow to Start
When you first run your new Froyo install you may initially feel the OS is painfully slow. Not to worry! Services are still starting up and various caches are being created. After an hour or two of use the responsiveness will be much improved.

Battery Indicator
I haven't read about this happening for anyone else, but on my Nook Color the battery indicator went crazy at some point during the upgrading, artificially reading 53% when the battery was nearly full, and at another time reading -20435%. I left the device plugged into the wall over night and when I turned it on in the morning the battery was reading properly, and has been ever since.

 

Step 4: Adding Important Apps

Now it's time to install a bunch of apps (almost all of them free) to get the most out of your Froyo experience.  The list of apps I was recommending got rather long so it now has its own page.  I strongly recommend you go now and install all of these Must Have Apps for your Nook Color.

Obviously you can add more apps beyond those, but you walking that list you will cover the basics and be in good shape to proceed.

Froyo seems to have a serious peculiarity where downloading apps in the Market may go very, very, very slowly.  I experienced this with my class 10 performing but class 4 rated PNY cards, but others reported no such problems when they used a class 6 card.   When I installed Gingerbread / CM 7 instead of Froyo the problem was completely absent.

 

Step 5: Backup Your Progress

Now we back up the progress we've made so far, so that if something goes wrong in the next step (replacing the kernel) we can just revert and try again.

Shut down your Nook Color. Remove the microSD card and plug it into your computer's card reader.

If you're a Windows user, use the free software Image Writer to create the backup image, if you're on anything else you can use "dd".

The backup might take 5 - 15 minutes, depending on the size and speed of your card.

 

Step 6 : Upgrade the kernel!

If you don't know what the kernel (aka ROM) is, it's the core OS code upon which everything else depends. And we're now going to replace your stock Froyo kernel with a greatly enhanced version. The main reason to do this is to allow overclocking of your Nook Color, but it also fixes things like volume issues with the headphones, solves touch screen problems, and adds Bluetooth support!

The first thing to do is to download the kernel you need. We're going to use Dalingrin's OC (overclocking) kernel. Follow the link in Dalingrin's kernel announcement thread for the “Froyo and CM7 kernel”. Then choose the most recent dated folder, navigate the hellishly confusing minefield that is the Mediafire download hosting site, and get the download you need which will be called “update-froyo-dalingrin-OC-sd-MMDDYY.zip” (where the MMDDYY is replaced with the date of the recent version).

Unzip this file to a folder you can easily get to in a DOS window. FYI, the only file we will actually be needing in the zip is the “uImage” file, which is the new kernel.

The installation path given in the discussion thread isn't right for our Nook Color with Froyo SD. So, instead of what they say, do this:

> adb shell mount -t vfat /dev/block/mmcblk1p1 /sdcard

> adb push uImage /mnt/sdcard/uImage

And immediately after this, clear the Dalvik Cache (it's a cache of JIT binaries):

> adb shell

# rm -rf /data/dalvik-cache/*

# reboot

Your Nook Color will shut down and when it comes back it will be running the latest kernel!

If something goes wrong and your device won't boot or in some other way seems seriously screwed up, just shut down, pop out the microSD card and use Image Writer to restore the image you previously backed up. Dealing with any problems is beyond the scope of this article, your best bet for support would be the people in this thread. And don't forget, we're doing all this on the microSD, you can always pop-out the microSD and your original Nook Color is still there.

Notes:
If you experience subsequent WiFi problems (such as wifi refusing to stay on, where it loops trying to turn it on then going off) clear your Dalvik Cache with the adb shell and rm -rf /data/dalvik-cache/* reboot approach I listed above!  Or buy the pro version of Titanium Backup which includes a cache cleaning feature.

ClockworkMod Recovery is a system which facilitates kernel upgrades and prevents you from getting into a situation where you would need to revert to a previous backup of your kernel/ROM. Serious kernel upgraders would be better off using that approach, but if you're just doing it once, or every once in a while, the above approach should suffice.  Unfortunately, for some reason it won't work properly on my (and presumably this) installation of Froyo to an SD card.  When I try to back up ROMs it crashes the Nook Color, and when I try to go into ClockworkMod Recovery (from the app or from cold boot and the Power + Nook button combo it ignores me); it does however sometimes randomly drop me into ClockworkMod Recovery after a spontaneous Nook Color crash.

 

Step 7: Overclocking

Go into the CPU Tuner app you installed and adjust the upper limits of the CPU to 1100 MHz. I set the upper limit to 1100 MHz for only the Performance, Good, and Normal profiles. I made sure the lower limit was 300 MHz for all profiles. Most people report no problems overclocking their Nook Color. If you have problems, you can always revert your CPU Tuner settings.

 

Step 8: Repartitioning your Virtual SD Card

The final task is to expand the partition containing your virtual SD card. At the moment you are using only 2 GB of your real microSD card, because that was the size of the image we used to write the original Froyo card. The rest of the microSD card is currently wasted, and we want to add that the partition that is used for your virtual microSD card. Repartitioning while preserving your data requires special software that can expand a Linux partition. One such product for a Windows user is EASUS Partition Master, which is under $20. Simply shutdown your Nook Color, move the microSD card into the PC's card reader and use that software to expand the sdcard partition to occupy the rest of the card; if anyone knows of a good free alternative, let me know!

 

Conclusion

Hopefully my time wasted figuring all this out will be your time saved and enjoying a truly fantastic tablet experience.

While your Nook Color may not compete with the iPad 2 in terms of power and features, you'll probably find you use it more than you would an iPad 2 because it's compact enough to always be with you.

 

After Thoughts

The wifi turn of/off loop (mentioned above) can be pretty irritating; the solution involves rebooting and clearing the Dalvik Cache.  It didn't happen to me at all yesterday, but did three times today.  A solution I'm now trying is using the "Green Power FREE battery saver" app.

Bluetooth is available in the Nook Color, meaning you can use Bluetooth keyboards, GPS dongles, and audio devices!  But...  the Bluetooth features are not available as yet in the Froyo kernel.  The features are available in the CM7 kernel.  Since I ran the CM7 kernel accidentally a few days ago on my Froyo install without seeming complaint I'm wondering if perhaps switching to the CM7 kernel would give my Froyo Bluetooth support.  I'm guessing running the CM7 kernel on a Froyo install would lead to subtly serious problems in the long run.  I've got a great iGo Stowaway Ultra-Slim Bluetooth keyboard ready to use, so this deserves more investigating.

 

CyanogenMod 7 Early Experience

Just today I got a new class 10 microSD card in the mail and decided that I'd give CyanogenMod 7 (CM7) a try since "verygreen" had a great description on how to install CM7 to SD card and it sure looked easy.  And, well, it was!  Within a couple hours I'd installed CM7, ported all my apps (and data) over (with Titanium Backup's help), installed Dalingrin's OC latest kernel!  I wanted to explore CM7 because people are getting Bluetooth working on it, and I wanted that.  Also, others were talking about how it was "better".  So far all I can say is it feels much faster!  The major slowness of Market downloads/etc. I experienced with Froyo on a class 4 card were totally gone on CM7.  Also, a pretty cool Softkeys like set of buttons is in the status bar at the top as part of CM7, though unless you want to remap the hardware keys you still need something when apps go fullscreen.  This time I tried Button Savior which I like a lot better than Softkeys.  I elected not to remap the hardware keys this time, since the status bar solution means I'm fine 85% of the time, it's just when fullscreen is employed that I need virtual buttons, and Button Savior's solution is elegant enough for that.  Had a few hiccups during the process, but nothing that you'll probably experience.  I did get BT working with my iGo Stowaway keyboard, which is awesome!  (The secret is, turn off wifi, reboot, then turn on BT, then turn wifi back on.)  The Dalvik Cache got screwed up at one point and everything was doing force closes.  I manually deleted the cache and rebooted, since then things behaved.  Also ran ClockwordMod's permission fix feature, just in case.  ClockworkMod still won't back up my ROM.  Everything so far seems great, except video...  Video framerates are like 8-10 fps, across the board in every app and even as you scroll windows in the OS.  I'm sure this will get fixed soon, but just be aware that's what you'll have right now if you jump over to this.  Froyo had perfect video playback, but no BT.

Here are some photos from my sweet CM7 RC4 setup (with iGo Stowaway Bluetooth keyboard)!

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