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Old 02-19-2007, 10:02 PM
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PPCGeeks Group Project Proposal: The Traditional ROM Kitchen

Foreward: If this post seems a bit long-winded, please bear with me. It really is trying to solve a genuine problem that's forming on this forum, and one that I would prefer to head off if possible, since the way things are headed, they're likely to turn out badly. Take [http://www.ppcgeeks.com/can-rom-edit...2930.html]this thread[/url] as one that's starting to turn ugly.

Over the past several days, I've noticed that there's a growing amount of frustration regarding what should, and should not, be in the various ROMs that are the generous members[1] of this forum have been producing. A lot of it has to do with differing opinions and valuations of software. For example, what's best at task management? HTC Task Manager, O2 Plus, Spb Pocket Plus, TransCreative Magic Button, something else completely? Different people, understandly, have different opinions. Sadly, it seems like the only "real" solutions are that either:
  • everybody builds his/her own ROM, or
  • most people "make do" with whatever somebody else makes.
Maybe I'm a perfectionist, but I'm not happy with these choices. There is another option, but the people of this forum will need to pull together for this.

When I first started getting into Windows Mobile devices a few years ago, I knew a lot less back then than I do now. But it was in that starting period that I first became familiar with the term "ROM kitchen"... and it meant something entirely different back then. Take a look at this entry in the xda-dev wiki, and you'll see what I mean. Much like now, people were developing what that page refers to as Special Edition ROMs - personalized versions of the official ROMs. But then xda-dev came out with a better way to do it: a customizable kitchen where anybody could create their own customized ROM, not just those with more time and technical experience. All you needed was a web browser. As a matter of fact, an old XDA (aka HTC Wallaby) ROM kitchen is still available on this page here.

Why do I mention this? Some of you have doubtless figured out where I'm heading with this. Shouldn't PPCGeeks create a traditional ROM kitchen like this for its users? It doesn't necessarily have to be hosted on the official PPCGeeks server, of course, since I'm not sure what the resource requirements of it are. But at least if we approach things this way, then
  • all users (including the ROM creators) will get the best of every ROM, without the problem where this ROM has this fix, but that ROM has that fix (like the various BlueTooth fixes, .NET fixes, etc.),
  • this will severely curtail the issue of people requesting that ROM creators include this program instead of that program, since they'll be able to pick their own programs,
among other benefits that I'm sure I'm forgetting.

I'm not just throwing this out there in the expectation that somebody else will take this on. I'm perfectly willing to get my hands dirty in this as well (complete with bringing to the table some of the nifty tricks I've picked up over the past weeks), as well as devoting a certain amount of time and programming expertise to this. But similarly, I'm sure that I don't have the time, energy, and server requirements/capacity to be able to do this alone, either.

So... what say you?



[1] Those members who are creating Special Edition ROMs are particularly generous, and not only because they're creating those ROMs. I could do it pretty easily myself (and have been since shortly after the AKU 3.3 ROM kitchen was available, although my ROMs haven't been released to the general public). It's because they have the patience to deal with all of the questions and issues that have been raised since. I sure don't have the patience to deal with all that.
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Old 02-19-2007, 10:38 PM
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Just moving my comments from the other thread that was closed due to the immaturity of a certain person:

First of all this is coming from someone with no programming experience who thus far has contributed nothing and just taken advantage of the hard word of others... so take my friendly rant for what its worth. My vote is also to bring some organization to the kitchen approach. I think there is a critical mass of experts working on this stuff (not me) that we are at a point where some better organiation could accelerate development. (yes my lingo gives me away as one of those management consultants that tech folks hate because they dont understand technology -Im guilty!). The beauty (and danger) of the kitchen is that it gets a lot more of us involved in the experimentation and fun and hopefully helps the innovation. It makes us feel like we're developing! If nothing else even if boarder use of kitchens doesn't help develpoment I think it builds the enthusiast community... and I hope thats part of the reason we're all here. Forums like these are supposed to be sort of messy and confusing... thats part of their charm and what encourages people to learn on their own, so I guess the question is whether people are happy with the balance of solo effort vs cooperation vs confusion here... or do we want to shift the balance a little bit. I think its perfectly reasonable for the experts here to feel that they know what they're doing so everything is fine, and that any efforts to democratize these efforts will lead to the problems that XDA-developers is dealing with.

I've been playing with ImCokeman and Sfaures versions of helmi's 3.5 and its been frustrating but fun. In an ideal world here are some thoughts on organization. I'm not really adding anything new here just repeating a lot of what others have said and what many are already attempting to do:

1. Starting with helmi's 3.5 kitchen, document all that was done to get the basic OS working working. Here's I'm talking just about USB fix, bluetooth, vision connection...etc. I'm assuming Coke and the rest baked all these basic fixes into OS and didn't create OEMs. Here's there can be some debate as to what is considered basic and core to a vanilla ROM (ie. is Crossbow theme, netcf2, smartdialer...etc). Freeze such a vanilla kitchen version as a 1.0 (perhaps by carrier) and release for all to play with.

2. We all devote our energy to testing and developing OEM's. This is the hardest part. I think there are some good instructions out there for developing OEMs. I think they are still a bit confusing but I'm realizing that this is all more of an art than rote following of instructions and that there are probably only a handful of you guys out there who truly know how to do this well. The rest of us can try building OEMs and more importantly test. Regading the current OEM's on the ftp, I've used a lot of them sucecssfully, and others I think still have bugs. I think the FTP needs two folders for OEMs, one for those just created and being tested, and another for those that have graduated.

3. How do we decide when something is good enough to get to the second folder? I don't know. Perhaps we vote... but this would require some more thought on how to structure information exchange on this forum. Ie. when someone develops a new OEM perhaps it gets it own thread. People discuss for a period just in that thread and at some point the Original developer starts a poll to assess whether its ready.

4. All registry performance tweaks can be done in an OEM package (like Coke has been doing), via a well organized and documented .rgu file. That way someone can easily add to it or take out ones they dont want.
Perhaps in this same "registry tweak" OEM, or in a seperate one, someone can start an .rgu which compiles registry setting that customize personal settings after a hard reset, ie. fill in Owner name, device name,
turn today screen items on/off...etc. I've started doing this based on the registry hack thread and looking at others .rgu files but at this point I am so clueless that is mostly trial and error.

5. Revisions of baseic vanilla OS. Now this might be the hardest to manage. We all know that the OEM approach can wrongly simplify the nature of bugs we are dealing with because it assumes the basic kitchen is perfect, and that bugs can be isolated to specific OEMs. Obviously this isn't true (e.g. Windows live search contacts issue). We should try to do as many bug fixes through OEM's but if at some point there is a consensus that there are just too many basic OS fixes need, we can have a new vanilla rom kitchen release. I would suggest that this decision should reside with the handful of experts whose technical prowess we trust (we can all name them easily... colonel, sard, coke, sfaure, vboyz, schettj...i'm missing many).

As an aside... this assumes that the experts think the kitchen approach is superior. I would be the last one to suggest to colonel and sard that they abandon their great efforts using the other method. Their releases are great and I know in their threads they've made the valid point that even if people don't like every app they've included in theirROM, it doesn't haven any memory impact if someone decides not to use it and install their own apps over the ROM. I guess some of us would ideally like to put our own apps in the ROM to get those memory savings. Again, I don't feel any of us are entitled to this, it would just be nice. Again, I really appreciate everyone's hard work. I think the experts in this forum are some of the most patient and encouraging I've seen, and I hope you keep that up and dont let us dimwits get to you with our incessant demands. Yes, we are taking advantage of your efforts, but it is appreciated. If all this wasn't in a legal grey area I would be happy to put my money where my mouth is and pay to subscribe to such a forum.

-j
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Old 02-19-2007, 10:42 PM
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Wow. I never saw that "kitchen on a webpage" before, but
I'm in shock and awe. Is something like that possible for the apache? Is each of those selections an OEM? How does someone get an item added?

That clearly is _the_ solution, now the q is, is it possible for the apache?

I'll help if there is something I can help with.
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Old 02-19-2007, 10:49 PM
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I would have to agree. I was thinking of the same a few dayz ago, but I was thinking of doing it with microsoft access.. by looking at the source of the webpage it doesn't appear to be to difficult to edit.. but lengthy : )
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Old 02-20-2007, 12:46 AM
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I think this can be a great idea and I will be happy to do my part- whatever that may be.
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Old 02-20-2007, 02:48 AM
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I Can Host

Not sure what the server requirements are but I'd be willing to host a kitchen build site...
I run Windows but I also have Virtual Server and VMWare Server so i can run anything.


Not the fastest speed available but for free what do you want?
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Old 02-20-2007, 03:24 AM
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I agree with what Sogarth and Jayz11. A rom kitchen application like what is shown in the link would be great.

When the first Helmi 3.3 came out, I flashed my phone and used it and could have been happy using that until I upgraded to my next phone. Then Colonel and Yuma and ImCokeMan started with their custom roms and used the knowledge that Mike learned on on his custom 2.2 rom to show how the remaining space on the rom could be used to add additional programs that would in the end result in more storage space due to programs not having to be installed there. That's what got me interested in creating my own rom -- not that any of the custom roms were bad (far from it), but that I had interest in additional programs that others may not have wanted and went above the scope of the custom rom authors to add just for me. For me, the kitchen roms and OEMs are a godsend. One of my frustrations is running out of storage memory and having to install things to the storage card and risk DSOD's. You can only get so much from UPXing programs so the custom roms in effect give me back that storage memory and allow me to get so much more out of the phone.

My basic feelings are this: until we are able to get something like is shown in the link, we need a basic vanilla rom kitchen for AKU 3.3 or 3.5 that incorporates all the known fixes. I think this is important to keep the confusion down and keep everyone from getting posts about why this or that doesn't work because they're using an old version of the kitchen. Right now I think there's 4 or 5 different versions of the AKU 3.5 kitchen. If everyone can work from the same baseline for whatever AKU they want to run (not that this isn't happening now), I think things would be much smoother during the debugging process or when someone gets stuck and needs help. It'd also be great to have an accompanying rom that's already built to match the kitchen for those who have no desire to customize their own rom and just want to download and flash. So maybe one kitchen and one pre-built flashable rom for each AKU. A variant may be an alternate rom with the crossbow themes/sounds. I personally think this should be a kitchen OEM item, but not everyone who wants the crossbow theme/sounds will be building their own rom. Tough call there.

As far as the OEM's go, beggars can't be choosers, and if an OEM for a program I use has been kindly uploaded by someone, I'll use it with much thanks to the one who created it (thanks to Colonel, Sogarth, schettj, finster869, signal34, bushrod, ImCokeMan and anyone else I missed for what's already there!). If it doesn't, then I install the program like I did before the whole custom ROM thing came about. If someone does come up with something new, hopefully they share with everyone so everyone can take advantage of it. But I certainly don't feel I'm entitled to anything or that anyone should figure out how to get a program into an OEM just because I use it and I want it, which seemed to be the gist of the other thread. If someone wants to share it, I'll gladly take it.

I think there's still a place for the custom roms assuming Mike has enough FTP space and bandwidth for them. There will always be those who want something more than the vanilla kitchen rom but don't have the desire to fully customize one themselves (as evidenced by Colonel's 87+ page long custom rom thread). If Colonel, Yuma, Saridnour and others want to continue to make these and release them, I think it'd be great. I think it makes the community that much better. This is what is (was) going on at XDA and seems to have worked well. At some point those users may become so enthusiastic with their upgraded device on the custom rom that they'll make custom roms of their own and the community will be even better.

One thing I think that could be improved is standardizing the way info about kitchens, OEM's and custom roms are posted. Without having to created sub-forums for each item, maybe we can standardize the first few words of the subject line for these items so everything's easier to find (i.e. Custom ROM - Colonel 3.5 Beta 3, Kitchen OEM - Memmaid, Kitchen AKU - 3.5 v3 by ImCokeMan, etc.). Just something easier so we can group everything together and easily at a glance separate it from the non-custom ROM/kitchen posts that have gotten drowned by the recent AKU developments. It'd also be nice to have a small note in the archive for each Kitchen or custom rom with information on what's been changed since the last one or what programs have been included and a link to the thread. This is comes in handy when downloading from the FTP site where you may not have the thread immediately handy and are wondering what's new with so and so. The compilation thread by konceptz has been a great help with this already but I do keep some of this stuff on my hard drive (paranoid about MS coming knocking here too) and it is kind of a pain to have to go back through the forum to figure out what is what.

Okay, I ended up writing a lot more than I thought I would. Sorry Sogarth if this got a little off-topic -- these are just my opinions and take them for what you will. Even if nothing else happens, the developments over the past few weeks have made my device so much more enjoyable and anything from this point on is icing on the cake. I can't close without a big thanks to Mike, helmi_c, ImCokeMan, schettj, Colonel and everyone else who has contributed to what has become a very exciting time for the 6700. Words can't express my gratitude to you all!
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Old 02-20-2007, 03:26 AM
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All of the extensive instructions and forum posts still have not made it entirely clear to me how to construct a proper OEM package for cab files that are more complicated than the one included in the example.

What I would really like (and trust me you guys have been more than helpful) is a much clearer instruction guide on creating OEM packages for the kitchen.

Example Questions i still have....

1 - what do i do with cab's that have files going into multiple directories

2- what exactly goes into the *reg* rgu file... the instructions from the word doc seem to be missing crucial steps there.

3- some of my cab files have a setup.dll .... what do i do with that, what should i name it... by looking at other OEM's i have been naming it the same name as the program, but is it even necesary.

4- what file tells the OS where to actually PUT all the files that are dumped into the OEM folder (reffering again to the multiple file paths from some cabs)

5- the free cab manager seems to drop files a little cleaner, but the ROM i build with those packages is messed... is there clearer instructions on how to build an OEM with that tool as opposed to wince cab manager?

6- can an OEM folder have multiple folders inside of it? i see lots of files in there on the FTP OEM packages and none of them have sub-folders... yet the free cab manager dumps file extraction into sub folders...

_________

What I think would be fantastic, is if everyone capable of making OEM to drop them up on the FTP w/ a readme on what the program is/does. That way there would be a HUGE pile of OEM for us to choose from without the complicated hassle of everyone duplicating work making the same OEM over and over again.

I also agree with the "bug fix" comment.... I hear about all the fixes.. some i know how/where to get, others im clue-less, and other times im not sure wich of the 3 resolutions is best and/or permanent once you cook a ROM.




anyways, take this as constructively as possible, I just wanted to voice out many of the concerns and questions other users have been talking about. I would also like to add on to the fact that I think everyone here is wonderful, and the time & effort put in by those that are succeeding at the "Kitchen" is incredible!

Thanks again, and I anxiously look forward to what this community can & will come up with!
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Old 02-20-2007, 05:21 AM
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Some very nice sentiments in here (and long posts!) and a great vision for where we should go. But before we can get there the base kitchen needs to be fully functional. The basic bugs all need to be fixed first (some already are). So, to get more organized on that front I suggest:

1. Take the stock AKU 3.5 kitchen (I believe this was created by Imcokeman based on helmi's AKU 3.3 kitchen).

2. Using the Wiki, compile a list of all bugs present in that kitchen. This gives a master list of the problems. For the ones that have been fixed already, provide a detailed description of the fix, cab or OEM of the fix, and credit where due). Unfixed bugs should have the names of people working on them (links to thread topics with discussion?). We don't move beyond this step until all of the known bugs are fixed or reasonably worked around (general consensus?).

3. Once all of the known issues are fixed, an OEM package for each fix is created and sufficiently tested. Then it is moved into the kitchen, but still in the OEM folder (I strongly suggest the OS and LOC folders are not ever touched). This will become the final "vanilla" kitchen for this AKU, at which point it can be plugged into that cool web page idea, and be used as the basis for everybody and their mother's own custom ROM.

As it has developed now, people are moving on to step 3 without step 2 having been completed (not that this paradigm even exists--I'm just making an observation), and that accounts for a lot of the confusion here. Whose custom ROM fixes which bugs? At this point in time we need to concentrate not on adding apps and making OEMs, but fixing all of the existing bugs! Once they are fixed, then we truly have a functional kitchen and can proceed with all the app OEMs and custom rom business.

There's my two pennies anyway. We need to walk before we can run.
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Old 02-20-2007, 05:41 AM
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Originally Posted by luv2chill
Some very nice sentiments in here (and long posts!) and a great vision for where we should go. But before we can get there the base kitchen needs to be fully functional. The basic bugs all need to be fixed first (some already are). So, to get more organized on that front I suggest:

1. Take the stock AKU 3.5 kitchen (I believe this was created by Imcokeman based on helmi's AKU 3.3 kitchen).

2. Using the Wiki, compile a list of all bugs present in that kitchen. This gives a master list of the problems. For the ones that have been fixed already, provide a detailed description of the fix, cab or OEM of the fix, and credit where due). Unfixed bugs should have the names of people working on them (links to thread topics with discussion?). We don't move beyond this step until all of the known bugs are fixed or reasonably worked around (general consensus?).

3. Once all of the known issues are fixed, an OEM package for each fix is created and sufficiently tested. Then it is moved into the kitchen, but still in the OEM folder (I strongly suggest the OS and LOC folders are not ever touched). This will become the final "vanilla" kitchen for this AKU, at which point it can be plugged into that cool web page idea, and be used as the basis for everybody and their mother's own custom ROM.

As it has developed now, people are moving on to step 3 without step 2 having been completed (not that this paradigm even exists--I'm just making an observation), and that accounts for a lot of the confusion here. Whose custom ROM fixes which bugs? At this point in time we need to concentrate not on adding apps and making OEMs, but fixing all of the existing bugs! Once they are fixed, then we truly have a functional kitchen and can proceed with all the app OEMs and custom rom business.

There's my two pennies anyway. We need to walk before we can run.
I quote u...
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