Omnirom Android KitKat on Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

My Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is getting long in the tooth but is still a good laboratory for fooling around with Android.  I have been running Android Revolution’s 4.1.2 ROM for the n8000 tablet on it and decided to take the leap forward to KitKat with an unofficial Omnirom 4.4.2 ROM released for the n8013.  It went smoothly but I hit a couple of snags that I had to work around.

Normally, this would have been pretty straightforward!  Famous last words!   I downloaded the ROM .zip file and placed it on my tablet’s external SD card.  Then I downloaded the 4.4.2 GApps zip file and placed it with the ROM.  I rebooted and went into recovery mode.  I happened to be using TWRP, which can be accessed by holding down your Power and Volume Up buttons, then releasing Power.  Clockworkmod works the same, I think, based on previous experience.

Update Your Recovery

I went into the Install menu, selected those two zip files (ROM first, then GApps), and installed.  I received an error when I used the copies that were on my SD storage, in the /Download folder.  The install looked more positive until I received this error:

Error executing updater binary in zip

It took me a bit to track down what this could be.  You should update your recovery module to the latest version possible.  In my case, I was on TWRP 2.6 and it is now on version 2.8.

I used Odin 3.09 and the latest .tar file I could find from the link on TWRP’s site.  There is a site (odindownload.com) that has a download for Odin packaged as an EXE file; that appears to be malware.  Make sure you get a .zip and scan it before expanding it.

I plugged in my tablet, and restarted.  This time, I held Power + Volume Down, which takes you into the bootloader.  Then I fired up Odin 3.09 and it found my device.  However, the interface has changed.  If you are used to using the PDA button in Odin, it’s now the AP button.  I clicked the AP button, selected the .tar file I’d just downloaded, and applied it.

When I restarted and went back into Recovery, TWRP was updated.  When I applied the ROM and GApps files, they worked without a problem.

Boot Conflict

When I restarted, the Samsung screen disappeared and I saw my custom boot animation.  And that’s all I saw.  I left it alone for about 10 minutes with no change.  Now, it could have been doing something in the background but I didn’t think so.  Normally, when I flash a ROM, it goes through an update process of the current apps and then appears at the lock screen.

I don’t keep any original or single files on my tablet.  Most of my work is in the cloud, so my tablet is pretty much just copies of files I’ve downloaded.  E-mail is done using IMAP, research on the Web, etc.  In light of this, I decided to just wipe the system and start over.  This is the reason people recommend doing backups because I lost everything that was on there.

This involved going back into TWRP recovery, wiping the system, and then re-installing the ROM and GApps files.  When I rebooted, I went straight into the Omnirom boot up logo and the lock screen appeared.

It was worth it.  Even if I have to download my backed up Google apps, it’s totally worth it.  Going to the Omniroom eliminated about 10 GBs of programs and cruft and who knows what.  This ROM is a very clean collection of apps and already feels faster than 4.1.2 on my ancient tablet.

Lost Root

You can use Titanium Backup and others to backup your apps and data.  Since I didn’t, I didn’t have any data to restore.  I started downloading my Google Play apps, installed the Amazon App store and got those going, and then grabbed F-Droid and grabbed those apps too.

During some step above, I lost my root access to my tablet.  I’m not sure still how exactly it happened but there are a number of threads discussing people in a similar position on 4.4.2.  I first tried switching my Super User apps but that didn’t help.  For a moment, I considered not rooting the system again but I like the benefit of Avast’s firewall, which requires root, and a couple of other apps I use.

I attempted to use Odin and a few different CF-Root tar files with no luck.  At one point, I had to start over and re-apply  TWRP to be able to get back into the Recovery mode.  I tried Towelroot too but it didn’t take.

The solution was to download an update to Chainfire’s SuperSU app.  After downloading the .zip file, rebooting into Recovery and installing it, I was in business.  Mostly.

Root is working again.  If I access an app that needs root – Avast, Titanium, for example – I am prompted for approval.  But when I attempted to install the Chainfire SuperSu app again from the Google Play store, it showed as installed but no icon appeared.  I need to figure that one out still, but it’s a minor inconvenience.  [Update:  it’s under the tablet’s Settings now, which makes sense, and an upgrade applied without any problem.]

Android Kitkat is substantially different from Jelly Bean 4.1.2 and I’m looking forward to playing around with it some more.  Currently, it’s being monopolized by a small person playing Pocket Trains.