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| | 01-08-11, 03:50 AM Thread Author #1
What you need to know before installing a hybrid
What you need to know before installing a hybrid:
Lately it seems that hybrid OSes have become popular faster than an understanding of what a hybrid is and how it works. While the spread of hybrid OSes is a good thing, the spread of knowledge is even better. In order to acknowledge this, I am writing this beginners tutorial regarding what a hybrid is, how it works. This instruction is limited by my own basic and restricted knowledge, and hampered by my lack of formal hybrid training. As with any hybrid, this instruction will undoubtedly contain errors. That being said...
Some basics regarding the BlackBerry OS:
Basically, BBOS has two parts: a .sfi file, and several hundred .cod files.
The .sfi file is more commonly known as the radio file, or the base. The .sfi is the most important part of the BBOS. Think of it as the foundation of the entire operating system; if the foundational .sfi is buggy, cracked, etc., then nothing that is built on it is going to be perfect. Most major changes between OSes are a result of the .sfi - for example, the differences between OS5 and OS6 are almost exclusively controlled by the .sfi. Every phone and every RIM OS has a different .sfi.
The .cods determine smaller, less integral parts of the BBOS. For example, net_rim_bb_tasks is for the tasks app; net_rim_bb_btfiletransfer controls transferring files over bluetooth (both of these examples are off the top of my head, but I think they're actual BBOS .cods). Think of the .cods as the house built on the foundation. Some .cods have dependences on other .cods, and will not work properly if other .cods are removed. Using the house example, if you break or remove your gas line your stove won't work (no jokes about electric stoves please). A well known example of this in BBOS is that if you remove Voice Activated Dialing, the about screen will not work.
Getting the .sfi and .cod files onto your BlackBerry:
RIM has created software to place the .sfi and .cods onto the BlackBerry device. The most popular among hybriders is Loader.exe, usually referred to as AppLoader. Loader.exe is found in c:/Program Files/Common Files/Research In Motion/App Loader on a windows 32bit PC. The location is :\Program Files (x86)\Common Files\Research In Motion\Shared\Loader Files\*os name and release number*\Java (thanks to mikeplus1 for that) on 64bit systems, and I have no idea where it is on a mac. Loader.exe determines what files to install by reading an .alx file. .Alx files can also be used to install BlackBerry apps. Another type of file, the .jad file, is similar to the .alx but is not used in the OS installation.
Programs like BBSAK launch loader.exe to install the actual hybrid. As of now, loader.exe is the number one tool for hybrid installation.
A bit about hybrids:
First, hybrids rarely do anything with the .sfi file. As the .sfi is a single file, it cannot (as far as I know) be edited or improved. And to be honest, I trust RIM to improve the .sfi more than any hybrider. In rare occasions, a hybrid will contain a .sfi; an example of this is the .sfi from 9650 OS 126.96.36.1998, which until recently was held exclusively by RIM testers, hackers, and certain hybriders who required payment of a VIP fee for access to it. Because 188.8.131.528 is still in the exclusive control of these individuals at this time, the released .sfi file from that build is included in some hybrids. This is an exception to the rule; for the most part, a hybrid will instruct you to install a certain BBOS before installing the hybrid. The installation of the hybrid will not do anything to the .sfi file.
Hybrid OSes usually attempt to improve performance by replacing .cod files. Hybrid makers usually replace specific files which are dependent on each other (much like renovating a kitchen in a home) with .cods from a newer BBOS. In general it seems that hybrid makers tend to attempt to use files from the newest available OS, under the assumption that RIM fixes bugs as time passes. This assumption usually proves to be correct.
Because a hybrid cannot usually improve upon the .sfi file, it is unlikely to see any truly remarkable change from a hybrid. Most hybrids aim for some combination of improved signal, improved battery life, faster/smoother internet browsing, and an overall smoother OS experience. Small bugs may also be fixed by a hybrid, and small UI changes may take place. Sometimes a hybrid does all of these things, and sometimes they fail miserably.
Installing a hybrid:
Ultimately most hybrids only replace some .cod files from an official OS with .cods from a different OS, and perhaps modify the .alxs which tell the loader.exe what to install. Running a hybrid installer overwrites files with the hybrid files. Hybrids are usually installed into c:/program files/common files/research in motion/shared/loader files/*os name and release number*/. The .cod files are located in the Java folder in this location. Again, this location is slightly different in 64bit versions of windows.
Before installing, always delete the vendor file if you're using a base os from a carrier other than your own.
Always use the loader.exe to install it - BlackBerry Desktop Software is not a preferred hybrid install choice. The actual installation is quite simple - launch loader.exe and let it do it's thing. After you first install your hybrid, you will see those arrows in the top right going crazy. Your BlackBerry has to go through a lot of work to get everything organized. Do several battery pulls in the first 12 hours, and expect a 24-48 hour "settling" period.
Some final words about hybrids:
Often after a hybrid install your BBM groups won't load properly (anyone in a BBM group with me is unfortunately very much aware of this fact). This is not the fault of the hybrid, but rather a result of BIS not working properly. It happens more often to some than to others. To get your groups back, just ask your group members to add you back.
Another note on BBM groups is that restoring Groups is hard on the batteries of everyone in the group. I suspect RIM set it up this way to reduce strain on their servers.
Hopefully this will help people to understand what a hybrid OS is and some of the basics on how it works. The best way to truly learn about hybrids is to mess around with the .cod files yourself. Doing so will help you to better understand the BBOS, make you better at understanding hybrids, and allow you to perhaps solve minor problems in any hybrids you install.
Feel free to PM me with any questions you have; while I'll respond as quickly as possible, please keep in mind that I'm a full time student with a new family.
Posted from my CrackBerry atwapforums.crackberry.com