Posted by: reformedmusings | December 14, 2013

Lessons learned with CyanogenMod 11 Nightly on Galaxy S3

So, I’ve been humming along with the last nightly of the CyanogenMod 10.2.0 release (actually the post-release 20131206 nightly) based on Android 4.3.1 on my Samsung Galaxy S3. The longer that I use CM, the more I like it. CM is fast, smooth, and offers a good balance of features and customizations. No worries.

Over the last week, CM has been releasing CM 11 nightlies based on Android 4.4.1 kitkat for general testing on the Galaxy S3. Although fully and happily operational on Android 4.3.1, I’ve been keeping my eye on 4.4 kitkat. This past Thursday’s nightly for the S3 jumped to Android 4.4.2. My kitkat lust became uncontrollable, so I decided to check the forums and Google+ for user issues. Some lost their WiFi on the international version and there are issues with some of the Google apps, some had worse problems like boot loops, but some had no significant issues with the nightlies. Armed with unbridled optimism that overrode my better judgement, I decided to take the plunge on the CM 11 20131212 nightly.

I took all reasonable precautions. I had the installation files to return to 10.2.0 and the matching gapps on my internal SD card. I also had the gapps for kitkat there ready to flash. I always have Titanium Backup Pro keeping a current backup of my apps and settings. My Clockwork Recovery Mod (CWM) version was up to date. Checklist complete.

Further, when I booted into CWM, I first erased both the cache and dalvik cache for a clean start. I then flashed the CM 11 nightly and gapps version 20131119, in that order, from my internal SD. That should have given me a clean CM 11 system whilst preserving my apps and app settings. After everything finished flashing, I restarted the Galaxy. That’s when the fun began.

At first, the boot process would lock up early. After pulling/replacing the battery twice and restarting, the boot process started looping into  an endless auto-restart. When I’d had enough of watching that, I pulled/replaced the battery again and booted into CWM by holding the volume up, home, and power buttons down until the initial boot screen appeared, then releasing ONLY the power button until CWM appeared. I reflashed both CM 11 and the appropriate gapps, then restarted the phone.

This time, after a few boot lockup – but each one further into the process – the phone booted all the way to the opening lock screen before rebooting on its own again. It did this three times, each time a message appeared about Android updating the messaging, media, and another database respectively. After that, it was more boot looping once CM reached the lock screen.

OK, I had seen enough. I pulled/replaced the battery and booted to CWM again. This time, I cleared both caches and flashed CM 10.2.0 and gapps 20130813, then restarted. The phone booted normally, but I had no WiFi. Ugh. After fiddling with that for a while, I decided to bite the bullet, wipe the phone to factory clean and start over from scratch. By now my 1 hour project was at 3 hours and still running.

But I made a critical error in judgement because apparently my optimism remained unbridled. Instead of returning to a known working configuration like the normally-disciplined, experienced tester that I am, I decided to try the CM 11 nightly again from that factory clean state along with its associated gapps. Bad move. I again experienced boot lockups and then boot loops. So, I rebooted to CWM and flashed back to CM 10.2.0 and its appropriate gapps. This once again recovered the phone except for WiFi, which remained inoperable. I restored the system using Titanium Pro. By then I’d had enough and call it quits for the night. Net time invested: 5+ hours. Net result: back where I started except for the loss of wifi capability.

After trying FXR WiFi Fixer and Recovery on Friday to no good end, I reasoned that the only way back to full functionality was to again go back to a factory wipe and flash CM 10.2.0 with is associated gapps from a totally clean state. Before doing so, I updated Titanium Pro’s backup to the latest complete setup. That was mistake #2.

This procedure brought me to a pristine CM 10.2.0 state. Although Google offered to restore my apps and data over WiFi, I elected to restore everything from my Ti backup. Mistake #3. Some messed-up system settings that existed from the CM 11 nightly fiasco apparently survived in the Ti backup of system settings. This resulted in an endless boot loop when restarting. This time I knew exactly what I did wrong and I finally reined in my optimism, so I again factory wiped the phone in CWM, reflashed 10.1.0 and gapps just for grins, then allowed Google to restore my apps and settings. Lastly, I restored all the app settings data ONLY from Ti’s current backup. Success!

General comments and observations:

1. None of this was CyanogenMod’s fault. They post clear warnings in every possible location that nightlies are likely unstable and not suitable for normal use. While most are actually fine, there’s always the possibility of something important being broken in a nightly. That’s especially the case early in the early builds for a new major system version as was the case here.

2. Never let your lust for shiny new things override your experienced judgement. Violating this rule bit me 3 times: first, running a nightly based on a brand new operating system port; 2) not returning to a known state after the nightly hosed my wifi; and 3) restoring a system settings back up from a system that had issues, especially not knowing what settings might have survived from the earlier adventure.

3. If you don’t use Clockwork Mod Recovery on your rooted phone, you should. CWM saved my bacon time and again throughout this process. Of course, it plays an integral role in flashing custom ROMs to start with, but it has powerful powers to recover otherwise bricked phones. Don’t leave home while rooted without it.

4. Always start ROM flashing projects with a full battery. You never know how long these things will take.

I am still looking forward to kitkat in CM 11 when CM releases a milestone version or better. Until then, I’m very happy with the CM 10.2.0 20131206 nightly and Android 4.3.1. Lesson learned.


Responses

  1. […] last encounter early in the CyanogenMod 11 development didn’t go so well. CM 11 is based on Android 4.4.2, an update from the 4.3.1 I was using until now in CM 10.2.1. The […]

  2. I understand your problem, friend. I also felt the sensation install CM11 even with CM4.3 stable on my S3. Result: I had several headaches with incompatible applications, small bugs and stuff.

    So I gave up and restored the bakcup of my entire rom I had done a few days and the problem solved!

    Now only return when he pro Kitkat break out a stable version!

    • Thank you for stopping by and commenting! All is good since the M2 release of CM 11. I’m now running the nightlies which have been pretty stable. The last three nightlies have significantly improved battery life by introducing efficiencies.

  3. Good post! I have the same phone and use the same apps that you: titanium and cmw. The only difference is that I only apply snapshots versions (M builds). They are at least tested a little. The 20140104 is working fine with me. Almost no bugs and the only problem is that I don’t have the radio (FM/AM app). Nightlys are generated automatically by a machine w/o human intervention, they can be messed (the only guarantee is that they compile).

    • Thanks for stopping by! I have a newer post where I installed the M2 build, which worked great. I’m now on nightlies again (20140204 as I type this), but with a more discerning eye towards the individual changes. The newer nightlies introduced changes that significantly increased battery life.

  4. Hi …
    Your Post Was Really Helpful !!

    Though I Wanted To Ask ….
    Yesterday I Flashed CM11 On My Galaxy S Advance And I’m Facing Minor Problems …. And I Want To Revert Back To CM 10

    Do I Have To Simply Download The CM10 Rom And Flash It Via Recovery Or There’s Something That I Should Do First …

    Please Help !!

    • Hi! Glad that I could help. To go back to CM 10, you need to download the ROM, and also the associated gapps file from here, then flash them in that order. Gapps is different for each Android version, so CM 10 and 11 require different gapps files to be flashed. If you didn’t load the associated gapps file for CM 11, you might try that to see if it clears up your issues.

      • Thanks For A Swift Reply ….

        So For Flashing Any Other ROM All I Have To Do Is Download The ROM And Its Associated GAPPS …. And Flash Them In Order …

        Thanks A Ton !!

        One More Thing If I May ….
        Is There Any Way I Can Revert Back To Stock Recovery And Stock ROM Of My Phone That Came Pre Installed When I Bought My Phone …
        I Mean The Original Build Not CM Or Any Other ROM ….

        Thanks !!

        • There are several ways to return to the original ROM. The best is to make a nandroid backup of the original before flashing CM. A number of apps can do this for you, including ROM Manager, and so can recovery programs like Clockworkmod Recovery. You can then flash the backup if you ever with to return to stock. Another way is to download a copy of your original ROM version from the xda-developers.com forum. You may have to search the forums to find it.

      • Also Does Installing GAPPS Fixes ROM Issues ??

        Do I Have To Download GAPPS For My Handset Or They Are General For All Phones At A Particular ROM ??

        • Gapps doesn’t fix anything other than replacing Google apps that are incompatible with the loaded Android version. That incompatibility can manifest itself in different ways, but mostly with the affected app not running properly.

          Gapps is generic for devices, but specific for Android versions. If you poke around the Net, you’ll find that some folks cull out apps from gapps that they don’t want and offer the files to others.

  5. Thanks A Ton !! …

  6. Hey i’m on cm11 I have problems with audio playback with my headphones. It goes mute whenever I put my phone on stand by and I have my headfones plugged in. Also goes mute when I open an app. Have you had any problem like that? Also, do I need to have had a backup of cm 10.2 if I wanted to flash it back or do I just go back and download the ROM off of CyanogenMod’s site and flash it normally?

    • No, I haven’t had that issue, but I may have never encountered that situation. I don’t use my phone for audio very often. Recent nightlies have addressed audio issues and may have helped or fixed what you’ve found.

      You can always go back to 10.2 by flashing it and the associate gapps with it, but it’s best to do a factory reset when going backwards. Because of that, it’s probably quicker to do a nandroid backup so that you can restore more quickly.

  7. Thank you so much for the post. I’ve lost two nights dealing with the CM11 nightlies and quite frankly I am very happy with the stable 10.2, which is an awesome improvement over Samsung’s hiper bloated original ROM. Thanks again for sharing!

  8. No kidding personally I think this post is a little invigorating and the reason for that is CyanogenMod has been one of the best custom ROM for Android users.. Generally what I liked most regarding this article is I want to buy Xiaomi Mi3 or RedMi Note. The readers here feel CyanogenMod will be available for it or not.


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