An audience with… nobodyAtall

For those who are new to the scene nobodyAtall is the developer of MiniCM.  MiniCM is an unofficial port of Cyanogen(mod) for the 2010 mini Xperia devices aka the msm7x27 line of devices.  If you are running customised firmware on one of these devices it is either based on MiniCM or at least benefited from the work by nobodyAtall.

What first interested you in developing for android?

To start off, I love linux. Hence this couldn’t be different for a mobile OS that is based essentially on open source. The reason is quite obvious I think: I like to be able to know what’s running on my device which means that I can hack it the way I like.

My first android phone was the x10mini. I was interested in getting something other than eclair running on it. So, with nil device-specific resources back then, I checked out the CM tree, messed around with various github repos and got something going. To my experience, early on signs of success are very important when you first dig into projects like this. It’s so easy to give up if you are getting nowhere soon, and honestly this has happened to me for a lot of my android-related ideas! Getting the screen to show up the default froyo background was such a thrill!

What’s your background/career?

I’m from Greece, age: 28. Education-wise, I’ve got a bachelor and master in Computer Science and currently doing my phd. Occupation-wise, I’ve done a lot of code development but I currently work as a release engineer for a s/w company. My job is practically to audit and build codelines.

What phones do you develop on?

I have my own hacked / kanged ROMs in the three android phones I own: x10mini, X8 and N1. I don’t develop that much for the N1 cause I see no point actually:

This is an architecture (arch) that the majority of people work on. Why not work on something more challenging? My x10mini and X8 have MiniCM7 and my N1 has a hacked CM9 where pretty much everything is working to some good extent.

Can you tell us about some of the difficulties when developing MiniCM for the msm7x27 line?

Unfortunately, the msm7x27 arch for SE phones has had no support from SE since the eclair release. This made things a lot difficult for making the various components work. Firstly, we did have kernel sources (per the gpl compliance), but no way to run our own kernel. In my opinion this was a major drawback that held this line so behind for a long time since we had to invent hacks on how to get 1) custom ROMs running and 2) various features working. The bootloader unlocking came (no idea how this was achieved) too late for this arch since most people had already turned their backs on it. Moreover, the lack of device-specific library sources was a big pain. FM Radio and Camera were the functions that were affected the most by this. Over time the various bugs got cracked though and MiniCM6 and 7 were pretty exciting to develop. MiniCM7 has over 20,000 users registered over time and I’m happy that people are supporting the project and are enjoying their phones with it!

Where do you see the end of the line for the 2010 range?

I don’t see an end for the 2010 range in the near future. People will get new phones (maybe SE ones too) so the user base will get smaller but this means nothing. People also claim that the msm7x27 just isn’t enough for ICS. As far as the capabilities are concerned, the 2010 line phones have an Adreno 200 gpu, an 600MHz processor, and 180+ RAM (for the msm7x27 line). In my opinion the above specs do cover the ICS requirements provided that proper kernel and userspace drivers are developed. This doesn’t mean that you can expect that a perfect ICS ROM will come out, but the potential is there.

Will you bring MiniCM to other devices (i.e. the 2011 Xperia range or devices from other manufacturers)?

If I had some other device that the user base would benefit from MiniCM, then why not.

What’s your role/involvement in Team Freexperia?

Let me firstly state the FreeXperia team’s main goal, which is to write / assemble device specific sources and libraries for the Xperia range of phones. It started off targeting the X10 device, then expanded to the msm7x27 line and now covers the 2011 Xperia phones too. You can imagine how difficult this task is, given the huge diversity of devices (there are however some common points where devices can meet each other). The FreeXperia team has achieved merging of the Xperia devices with the CyanogenMod project which was a step of huge importance. SE has also recognized the team’s work by giving camera libraries for the 2011 range.

My involvement in the team has to do with development for the msm7x27 device range. Whatever might get accepted by CM regarding MiniCM I push it to the CM reviewing system. Some things will never get upstream though, like the camera and FM Radio, because they are too device specific.

Future plans and other developments?

My involvement with android is purely from a hobbyist point of view. Some people don’t understand this and think that donations are either enough or have the form of payment, which is obviously untrue. I do this for fun and depending on my free time I plan my android-related projects. Ideas come out of nowhere (like encryption or multiboot) or from browsing developments in other devices.

So yes, I’m interested in ICS but not until it’s fluid enough. I won’t publish a MiniCM9 unless hw acceleration works to an extent that the UI feels good to use and functionality is acceptable. I would also like to see kernel flashing via CWM (the way it should be actually), which is a distant dream for the time being. Rebasing on another kernel version is also intriguing but requires a huge effort.

9 responses to “An audience with… nobodyAtall

  1. Pingback: New section with an interview with nobodyAtall | minicyanogen(mod)

  2. let’s hope that ICS bring us Hardware/GPU acceleration…

    had questions, but after reading this post. most questions are answered…

  3. He is enjoying his programming skills… I should congratulate him on MiniCM project as I’ve started following this very regularly to enhance my device.

    Good luck and all the very best for his future tasks

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