Sunday, January 8, 2012

10 Reasons Why Custom ROMs suck

     Yes, you can install a custom rom, and many are very close to being a great alternative, but none are their yet. You can even add new features. But the pain and stress just isn't worth it. These are my top 10 reasons for my frustrations at the entire "Custom ROM" community for the Google Android operating system.

10) Elitism:
    While these people are in the minority, there are enough of them to ruin your day. All it takes is for you to ask a question to get them started too. Obviously if you knew the answer, you wouldn't have asked it in the first place. I can't stand these people. Its almost as if they lurk in the myriad of forums on the net waiting to pounce. Any yet, these same people never give you any quality answers. While good information and helpful people are available as well, there are enough of these people that I find it much easier, and less stressful to just wait until someone else gets a similar question answered.

9) Never out of Beta:
        I have been "flashing" custom ROMs on to android phones for a while now, and even though I now have a newer phone than the one I started with, the ROM I had flashed for my Original Moto Droid 1 is still in beta. In fact, even the so called "stable releases" can only be considered a "release candidate" at best. Why? Go to the forums for any creator of any ROM for any Android Phone and you will see why. These are constantly plagued with bugs. Most often the solution is to just jam an .apk file in to the operating system from a variety of versions to see if that "fixes" the problem. This called "Kanging" I have recently found out. While it is frowned upon by the "purest" (more on them in bit) it happens more often than not. Open Source, or even Crowd Source is not quality assurance.

8) Disparity of Information:
    The internet is a great provider of information. It allows you to find out just about anything on just about any topic. That is, if you know what to search for. In many cases you are searching for what to search for.  This is especially true if you are looking for something you are not familiar with. A good example of this the website. Specifically their devices list. If you look for the Motorola Droid 2 Global in the list, you will not find it. Following the link for the Motorola Droid 2 will get you to page that says it is for the Droid 2 only, not the Droid 2 Global. Yet, if you go to their Wiki and find the Motorola Droid 2 Global Full Update Guide, you will see that their ROM (Currently CM7) does in fact support the Droid 2 Global. They even have a full guide and ROM to download just for it. Of course this "custom ROM" actually uses an older version of the Android OS than the latest .608 update available from Verizon. This last bit is not specifically mentioned in the guide, or any other text. You have to dig your won down through the forums to find this information. What a wist of time.

7) Instability:
    Because these ROM's (no matter who has made it) are never out of beta, you are forced to accept a certain amount of instability. Sometimes data gets wiped, or you are forced to wipe it yourself, but thats OK. Your cool now. You flashed your very own ROM. More often than not, some piece of hardware just won't function either. Like say the camera, or audio, or 3G Data, or some other random part of your phone. I use my phone a lot. I do not have "extra phones" or pay for "extra lines" on my plan just to "play" with these things. You will die of old age, or just buy a newer phone, waiting for these things to become an official stable release.

6) Its like starting over, and over, and over ...
    Every time you flash a new rom, you have to completely wipe your phone. In some cases you even have to side load the stock google application from some other version of Android just to get the Market to work, when it works that is. The only good thing is that your contacts are stored on Googles Gmail server. Otherwise I would have lost them many times over by now.

5) Inconsistency:
    If ten people have the same phone, on the same network, and the same issue, there should be one answer. Not with custom ROMs. In fact every single issue that arrises is like starting over. For each of these problems there are at least five answers for that problem. Each one claiming to be the "solution you have been looking for." What a bunch of crap. You will spend many sleepless nights trying to find out how to fix that one issue that is stopping your phone from working properly. In the end, more often than not, you will need to perform yet another ROM flash.

4) Hardware Venders go out of their way to make it hard:
    This is true, and for very good reasons. Vendors spend a lot of time and money developing their product and making sure  they will work well in a variety of usage scenarios. The biggest roadblock to making "good" custom ROMs is a locked boot loader. What this means is the one file the hardware looks at to begin to boot your phones operating system is encrypted. Only boot files that use this encrypted signature can be booted. This limits what the "ROM-ers" can do. This is probably a good thing. I have actually fried a processor on a phone once by playing around with customs ROMs. I didn't mind at the time. However, if I had left it alone I would probably still be using it. It was a good phone.

3) You learn more about how your phone works then you ever wanted to:
    If you want to know the hows and whys of your phone, then getting into ROMing is for you. You will learn more than you thought possible. In essence, each ROM is a custom linux distribution. One that is specifically designed for your phone. Or at least it should be.

2) You spend so much time "fixing" things, you never get to actually use your phone:
    This is the really sad part. After all of the time and effort you spend on getting your phone "just-so", an update comes out to fix some issue that you have to start over. And you look for these fixes, all the time. Why? Because you want your phone to work. You are looking for the joy you felt when it was new and you first powered it on. You want it to be as exciting and fresh again. The fact is, you just can't win. Custom ROMs will never be stable enough to "just work". In a way, this is also the point. Using custom ROMs on your phone is a bit like being a Tinker Gnome.

1) Did I mention Elitism?
    The developers are often in this list. I am not saying what they do is easy. I am not saying what they do is wrong. What I am saying is that if you "notify them" of a problem you are having, prepare for battle. Some developers are just so damn arrogant. Yes they do it for free. Yes they do it their spare time they could be spending with friends and family. Yet, that's kind of my point. They do it in their spare time. These are not paid people who have any level of quality control outside of complaining users, and absolutely no accountability for shoddy work. If you read in enough of the forums you will see a lot threads regarding the left of others people work. Usually by someone who is using someone else's work to begin with. The entire thing is so convoluted and messy that I have decided to just avoid it. In fact, I think I'll just get an iPhone. At least the Apple Fanboy's have reasons for their brand loyalty.