How to install CyanogenMod on Oneplus One

I really like my OnePlus One phone. It is an exemplary engineering achievement proving that it is possible to design a mobile phone as powerful as leading brand’s flagship models but costing half of their price.

Oneplus One is powered by Cyanogen OS, an open source OS based on Android Open Source Project (AOSP). Cyanogen OS has its own update cycles, which OnePlus One receives via over-the-air (OTA) updates. When I bought the phone, it had Cyanogen OS 11 installed, based on Android™ 4.4 KitKat. Pretty much when I turned on, it received update to Cyanogen OS 12, based on Android™ 5. The update went without a hitch, and the phone performed flawlessly for a few months… until the next update came through.

12.1-YOG4PAS1N0 is Cyanogen OS 12.1 based on Android™ 5.1.1. Unfortunately, once that update installed on my OnePlus One, it rendered the phone practically unusable. The problems included LTE connection dropping out, random freezes and reboots, application crashing, you name it… And after a couple weeks I had enough and decided to do something about that. So, I said goodbye to Cyanogen OS and hello to CyanogenMod Nightly Builds.

Although they are closely related, Cyanogen OS and CyanogenMod are not the same. The technical difference, though, is very minor. However, because CyanogenMod is not endorsed by OnePlus, it does not receive OnePlus updates, it does not contain applications bundled with Cyanogen OS (which are mostly crapware anyway, with an exception of excellent CameraNext). Oh, and installing CyanogenMod may void your warranty. You’ve been warned. Instead, CyanogenMod has a useful feature of incremental updates. More on that later.

Although CyanogenMod makes kind-of stable “snaphot” builds from time to time, they are rare and can be quite outdated. And I had experience with my previous phones when snapshot releases stopped being updated altogether. Because of that I opted for nightly builds. They are exactly what they sound like - automatic nightly builds of CyanogenMod, including all the code changes made during that day. Although they are untested and technically “unstable”, in practice, as I discovered, they are more stable than official releases of Cyanogen OS.

The first thing you need to do to install CyanogenMod on a stock OnePlus One is to unlock the bootloader and root the phone.

There is an excellent DaxNagtegaal’s guide on how to do exactly that.

The most “painful” part of it is unlocking the bootloader, because doing that effectively factory resets the phone, wiping all the data including the flash partition. If you want to avoid a pain of reinstalling and reconfiguring all your application from scratch, you’ll probably want to back them up with Helium. This backup method isn’t perfect, it doesn’t always work, and you may not be able to restore some of your applications, but unfortunately that’s the only one that works on stock unrooted devices. Once you root the phone, you’ll have much more powerful Titanium Backup Pro at your disposal. But not now. You can also use TotalCommander with ADB plugin to copy files from your phone. To my liking that is a bit more convenient than via Windows Explorer.

Once the bootloader is unlocked, follow the steps to flash TWRP recovery. After that follow the guide to flash CyanogenMod nightly build. Skip flashing a kernel and go on to rooting the phone. Once rooting is completed, you’re done!

A couple of finishing touches:

  • Grab CameraNext apk or CameraNext mod and install it. This camera works much better on OnePlus One than the stock CyanogenMod’s one.
  • Install CM Downloader and you’ll have an option of incremental OS updates. Do not forget to backup your system with TWRP before updating!
  • And do not forget to backup your applications with Titanium Backup!


Coming revolution

Soon a small black box will enter our living rooms, and that will change the way we spend time in front of TVs forever.  It will happen on Nov. 4, 2010, and the name of this phenomenon is Kinect.

Microsoft Kinect

In my student days I was an avid gamer and has played virtually all “big” games that came out for  PC, luckily for me those days it wasn’t such a flood as now. And I remember well the events that changed the game industry as we knew it. Those milestones were:

  • Doom - the first popular first-person shooter, 1993;
  • 3dfx Voodoo - the first 3D accelerator, 1996;
  • Nvidia GeForce 256 - the first 3D accelerator with integrated geometry GPU, 1999.

After that, I stopped actively playing games did not follow the gaming news. And returning sporadically into the game world I was discovering that nothing actually has changed. Well, the resolution was higher, graphics better and explosions more colourful. But the gameplay still remained the same - defined by Doom at the beginning of 90s. Of the remarkable events only the release of Nintendo Wii in 2006 comes to mind, which changed our perception of computer games. They were no longer something available only to nerds. Now the whole family could play and, more importantly, while moving rather than sitting still.  Perhaps it was then, when Microsoft saw that and decided to take the idea to a new level.

Kinect is a small box connected to the Xbox 360. It has 2 cameras that watch the player, detect the position of his body and movement, and thereby enable you to control events on the screen. Motion Control in a pure form – simple and brilliant. No controllers, no wires. According to Microsoft’s statements, one Kinect can completely digitise movements of  two players and track the positions of four more. The players may be standing or sitting. In addition, Kinect has multi-array microphone through which it can recognise the voice of his “master” and obey his orders.

Microsoft presented Kinect a year ago at E3 exhibition, then it carried the working title “Project Natal”. And immediately it was clear that it would be a revolution, if only Microsoft would be able to deliver on promises. Now, when Kinect is very close to the release, Microsoft has distributed sample devices to leading gaming magazines. And now we can say firmly - Microsoft succeeded. According to the lucky ones who played with Kinect, watching first time the character on the screen waiving its hands in coordination with you movements is fascinating. Motion Control is not perfect, but still very good.

This is what a gameplay with Kinect looks like:

I predict that Kinect will be a huge hit. It along with the new Xbox 360 will take the market by storm. Potential customers will have to stand in a queue for hours to buy it. And for some time after launch it will not be possible just to walk into a store and buy one, as it is now impossible to buy an iPhone 4. Neither Sony, nor Nintendo has anything comparable.

So, we are on the eve of the revolution. Now it is the turn of gaming companies  to help us fully explore this bright new world.

Quest for the perfect reader is almost over

Those who know me know that I’ve been searching for a perfect ebook reader device for years. I’ve used mobile phones, Palm PDAs, pocket PCs, laptops… About 7 years ago I got excited about prospects of E-Ink technology, promising to deliver just what I needed. Unfortunately, E-Ink has turned out to be utter disappointment, so far delivering little but bold promises. It took years and years for the first E-Ink devices to turn up on the market.

A few years ago I finally got my hands onto Sony PRS-500 E-Ink reader. Got disappointed with it after a week and sold it. A year ago I bought another E-Ink reader - that time BeBook. I still have it, but now my wife uses it. And I’ve got myself something better. That is iPhone.

Don’t get me wrong. I still like E-Ink readers. But even after all those years E-Ink remains to be a promising technology. Guys, it’s about time to deliver on promises. Maybe one day… But now, E-Ink has more cons than pros: devices are expensive, screens are slow, the screen contrast is poor. And versatility is even poorer - every E-Ink reader is practically useless for anything but reading, making you carry yet another device in your bag. And if all those weren’t enough, many manufacturers lock the devices to just a few supported DRM-enabled book formats (this is for you, Amazon).

In few short years, iPhone delivered what E-Ink failed in decade. The truth is, the iPhone’s screen is brilliant. I don’t know how they did it, but it’s bright, highly contast and it (almost) doesn’t fade in sunlight. Yes, it’s resolution is not as high as of some VGA PDAs and laptops, but it still looks better than any other LCD screen I’ve seen. Reading from that screen is a pleasure. Honestly, if I am provided a choice to read from either E-Ink (in its current state) and iPhone’s LCD, I’d probably choose iPhone.

And unlike the dedicated readers, iPhone is immensely versatile. I don’t know the statistics, but it’s got to be the most popular mobile software platform out there. Thousands and thousands of software titles are available. And there is no problems with ebook types either - Software like Stanza and Calibre make reading almost any kind of book a simple task.

All in all, for all of you who has been waiting for a perfect reader - the wait is almost over. iPhone has delivered yet another revolution. Now is the time for a major publishing houses to wake up.