blandroid logo

Blandroid

For those rare occasions when you need your phone to actually work as a phone.

Installation

Initial installation of Blandroid on your device requires unlocking your device's bootloader, flashing the Blandroid images, and optionally installing the proprietary Google applications/services. Unfortunately, this process requires that all of your user data be erased, including your settings, applications, WiFi passwords, and possibly even all of the photos and data on your SD card (or the internal memory that the Nexus S presents as /sdcard). It is important that you backup all of your data first to a separate SD card or your computer.

This initial installation process may seem a bit lengthy and technical, but once you have installed Blandroid, upgrades to new versions can be done on the phone itself without using a computer and you will not have to erase any of your settings.

Unlocking Your Device's Bootloader

To be able to flash a different build of Android such as Blandroid onto your device, you will first need to unlock its bootloader. If you have already done this, you can proceed to flashing Blandroid.

Due to security concerns with flashing a different version of Android, your data will be automatically erased once you unlock the bootloader, so backup your data first. This may include erasing your SD card (or what the Nexus S mounts as /sdcard) so backup everything to your computer. This process may void your warranty, and on the Nexus One, the process is irreversible. On the Nexus S, the bootloader can (and should) be re-locked.

On AOSP-supported devices like the Nexus One and Nexus S, unlocking is very simple:

  1. If you do not have the Android SDK installed, download and install it to install the USB drivers.

  2. Download and unzip the fastboot and adb tools (Mac OS X or Windows). You can put them in a path like ~/bin/ for easy use, or just run them from the directory you unzipped them to, like your Desktop.

  3. Power the device off. Boot the device to the bootloader by holding its specific key sequence. On the Nexus One, hold the trackball and power button. On the Nexus S, hold the volume up and power buttons.

  4. Unlock the bootloader by connecting the device's USB cable to your computer and running fastboot from your computer:

    $ fastboot oem unlock
    ...
    OKAY [ 25.305s]
    finished. total time: 25.305s

    Give the full path to fastboot if you didn't move it into a directory in your $PATH in step 2.

  5. Read the warning on your device's screen and confirm the prompt.

    This may void your warranty. The makers of Blandroid are not responsible for any damage you cause to your device while using this software.

    After unlocking your bootloader, your device will boot up with an unlocked padlock icon.

Now that your bootloader is unlocked, you can flash a new firmware image.

Flashing Blandroid

This method of installing Blandroid will only have to be done once. After this initial installation, upgrades can be done from the device itself.

  1. Download the latest installation version of Blandroid for your specific phone onto your computer.

  2. If you are no longer booted into the bootloader from the previous steps, power off the device and boot to the bootloader.

  3. Run fastboot to flash the image to your phone. Note that this command will wipe out all of your data, so make sure you've backed up first.

    $ fastboot -w update /path/to/blandroid.zip
    archive does not contain 'boot.sig'
    archive does not contain 'recovery.sig'
    archive does not contain 'system.sig'
    ERROR: could not get pipe properties
    --------------------------------------------
    Bootloader Version...: I9020XXKA3
    Baseband Version.....: I9020XXKB1
    Serial Number........: X
    --------------------------------------------
    checking product...
    OKAY [ 0.001s]
    checking version-bootloader...
    OKAY [ 0.001s]
    checking version-baseband...
    OKAY [ 0.003s]
    sending 'boot' (2876 KB)...
    OKAY [ 0.374s]
    writing 'boot'...
    OKAY [ 0.382s]
    sending 'recovery' (3976 KB)...
    OKAY [ 0.520s]
    writing 'recovery'...
    OKAY [ 0.513s]
    sending 'system' (112918 KB)...
    OKAY [ 14.602s]
    writing 'system'...
    OKAY [ 17.019s]
    erasing 'userdata'...
    OKAY [ 0.209s]
    erasing 'cache'...
    OKAY [ 2.035s]
    rebooting...

    finished. total time: 35.663s

  4. At this point, your device will reboot and Blandroid is installed. Before you start using it, you may want to install the proprietary Google applications/services to access things like the Android Market. These applications cannot be bundled with Blandroid and have to be downloaded separately.

    1. Once you have downloaded the Google apps zip file, copy it to your device. You can do this by enabling USB storage on the phone and copying the file to the root directory of the drive.

    2. Reboot the device to the recovery screen. From within Blandroid, hold down the power button, choose "Reboot" from the menu, and then choose "Recovery". Alternatively, boot to the bootloader as detailed above, and then choose the recovery option.

    3. You should now be at the recovery screen. Scroll down to "install zip from sdcard". Scroll to "choose zip from sdcard", press the power button, and then scroll to the gapps-(version).zip file you copied in the previous step. Press the power button, then scroll to "Yes - install gapps-(version.zip)" and press the power button again. You should see some messages scroll by indicating that the Google applications were installed.

    4. Scroll to "Go Back", press the power button, and then press the power button again to reboot the device.

Congratulations! You have successfully upgraded your phone to Blandroid.

Re-locking Your Device's Bootloader

Note: This step is only applicable to the Nexus S GSM and 4G phones. The Nexus One does not support re-locking.

Once you have flashed Blandroid onto your device, it is a good security practice to re-lock the bootloader. This will prevent others from being able to flash a different build of Android onto your phone with fastboot without first erasing all of the phone's data (by issuing another fastboot oem unlock). This restriction does not apply to updates downloaded to your device and applied through the recovery tool or through Blandroid's system update mechanism.

With USB debugging disabled, a lock-screen PIN code set, and a secured recovery image (note that Blandroid does not currently have a secure recovery image), a locked bootloader can reduce the chances of your device's data being read if the device is lost or stolen. (Advanced data recovery techniques or security vulnerabilities present in Android/Linux can bypass these security measures.)

To re-lock the bootloader after flashing Blandroid:

  1. Reboot the device to the bootloader screen as detailed above.

  2. Run fastboot oem lock to re-lock the bootloader:

    $ fastboot oem lock
    ...
    OKAY [ 0.048s]
    finished. total time: 0.049s

Your device's bootloader is now re-locked. It will no longer be possible to flash images with fastboot without unlocking the bootloader again, which will erase all of your device's data.

Backing Up Blandroid

After you have installed Blandroid and either restored your previously backed up settings or reconfigured everything to your liking, it is recommended that you create a full "nandroid" backup of the system. This is a full backup of the entire system and can be restored at any time in the future to return the entire system to exactly how it is now, even if you revert back to a stock ROM or get an entirely new phone.

  1. Reboot into the recovery image by holding down the power button, choosing "Reboot", then "Recovery".

  2. Scroll down and choose "backup and restore" and then "Backup". This will create a directory on your SD card with an image of each partition on your device.

  3. After the backup is complete, reboot the phone and then copy the backup to your computer. Any time you need to do a full restore, just copy that directory back to your SD card/phone and you can restore from the same menu.

Because Blandroid comes with the Superuser utility, you can also run applications that require root privileges like Titanium Backup, which can create per-application backups on schedules you define from within Android.