A few questions for PC users

Ub3rL0rd

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Hello :)
I have owned my first smartphone for half a hear now (Moto E XT1021) but when it comes to smartphones I'm a noob. I have been using PC for over 15 years now. I have been dual booting on my PC for a few years now. I have tried several Linux distros (Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Manjaro) along with Windoze for gaming. I have rooted my phone to remove bloatware and use some software which requires root permissions.
I have a few questions:

1. Why can you brick your smartphone when you can't as easily do that to your PC? Yes well you can "brick" your motherboard by flashing wrong bios or by doing it incorrectly but most mobos have dual bios to recover from that. You can also "brick" your GPU by flashing bios but you can reflash it as long as you have another GPU so that your system boots. Now why are phones so prone to this?

2. What is the difference between OS and ROM? I have found some conflicting information and some say it's the same thing other say it's not?

3. Can you format your phone's internal memory and install a different OS just like you would on PC without resorting to 3d party tools and emulators and inconsistent stuff like that? I imagine you would go to your BIOS select boot device (SD card, USB) and boot from the install image and install it using either command line or GUI installer. I haven't tried to install a different ROM like CyanogenMod or OS like Firefox OS or are they just different operating systems and this confusing "ROM" term needs to die? I was afraid to render my phone useless because of all the scary stuff on the internet.

4. Is it safe to install Firefox OS, Sailfish OS, Tizen, Ubuntu Touch OS, CyanogenMod or however many other OS are there? I imagine there could be hardware incompatibilities just like with Linux distros (wireless adapter not working, etc.) But couldn't you just reinstall Android (provided you can even download a new release).

5. Are there drivers for hardware? Sorry I am a noob when it comes to smartphones I don't really understand how it works.

6. Are there distros of android or other OS? Is there a distro watch for smartphones?

7. How would you compare these OS and perhaps some others I am not aware of: Firefox OS, Sailfish OS, Tizen, Ubuntu Touch OS, CyanogenMod.

8. How come I can't find any official download links for said operating systems (except for CyanogenMod)? Do they only come preinstalled?

9. Does Android always update when a new release rolls out? Do old phones get updated? Are there any rolling release distros, so that you can keep up with bleeding edge software without reinstalling OS?

And I want to add that I absolutely hate the vendor locked **** on different phones. I wish we had Linux distros, running on efficient x86_64 chips or perhaps very powerful ARM chips. I wish I could configure my phone just like on Arch linux, I wish I could pick my "desktop environment" etc. And I really hope Phoneblocks/Project Ara succeeds so we can build PC like, fully modular phones.
 
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Golfdriver97

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Welcome to the forums.

1. That answer is kind of fuzzy. You would think that there shouldn't be much difference, and I don't know if I can fully answer this portion of your post, but some of it does come down to the bootloader which varies from device to device.

2. People are probably incorrectly interchanging the phrases. All the ROM would be is a different version of the OS.

3+4. You can install a different OS onto your phone. Usually requires a custom recovery and a flashable .zip file. Question is can you find them. And the other OS types are typically developed for the Nexus devices (they are built software wise where it is extremely difficult to brick them).

5. I don't think I fully understand your question. There are no drivers to update on the phone, but you do need to keep them updated on your PC.

6. I can't answer.

7. Cyanogen is Android (typically; I think they have other OS, but mainly Android). Just a different version of it. It is built off of the Android Open Source Project, so anyone can build off that. It just depends on how talented you are with coding. All the other OEMs are skinned versions of Android. So Samsunng's, HTC, LG all have a skin over what is called Vanilla. As for other OS types...I have seen some on YoutTube videos, but that is the extent of my exposure to them. Sailfish and Firefox seem like a work in progress yet. Tizen has a few interesting features on it (like resizing an app shortcut icon to a full widget without doing anything), but nothing worth changing OS or devices for. Ubuntu Touch has some potential, but from what I know, has a long way to go before it can be a potential candidate to even compete against Android or iOS.

8. Depends on the device and the ROM you want to change to. Many developers only post to XDA.

9. I think this is a semi loaded question: Take the Samsung Glaaxy Centura for example (and hopefully I understand your question). It releases with Android 4.0. Google releases Android 4.1. At this point it is up to Samsung if they want to spend time (and money) updating this device to 4.1. Usually with non flagship devices, they don't. This is where something like CyanogenMod can come into play. You root this device (if someone found a way to), flash a custom recovery, then flash the custom ROM. AS long as the CyanogenMod team updates the ROM for this device, it will stay updated.
Now, take the Galaxy Note 4; a flagship device that is expected to get updated. Samsung will, due to the sales behind this device, update the OS. But it will take time, due to the changes they have to make for their skin.


If I didn't make anything clear, please let me know.
 

Ub3rL0rd

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Hey thanks for a reply. That was helpful. I have a few more things I want to ask if you don't mind :)

1. Wouldn't it be more simple for hardware manufacturers to mainstream it? Why the hell do we have to "flash" phone memory? Can't we have a seperate mobo BIOS, seperate storage, and OS in the storage? So we could install any OS without such thing as rooting inside the preinstalled OS. Bricking would not exist as we would simply format the storage and install OS on top of it.
5. How come there are no drivers for smarphones? You mean there are no GPU, wifi, audio, touchscreen drivers etc.? I thought smartphones act the same way as PCs do.
9. Is there a phone that isn't locked by ******* vendors? So that I could update operating system regardless of who the hell put CPU GPU RAM and their badge on top of it?

Sorry, but I am starting to realise smartphones are not like PCs. They are just toys with linux kernel srewed by vendors so that you would buy a new one once they stop supporting it. Samsung, Sony, LG all of them are nothing but a middle man between hardware manufacturers. Just like Dell, lenovo, hp, acer is between you and Intel, Nvidia, AMD, Asus, msi, Gigabyte etc. Why can't we have a tiny PC powered by efficient ARM chip that would act the same way all computers do?
 
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UJ95x

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Hey thanks for a reply. That was helpful. I have a few more things I want to ask if you don't mind :)

1. Wouldn't it be more simple for hardware manufacturers to mainstream it? Why the hell do we have to "flash" phone memory? Can't we have a seperate mobo BIOS, seperate storage, and OS in the storage? So we could install any OS without such thing as rooting inside the preinstalled OS. Bricking would not exist as we would simply format the storage and install OS on top of it.
5. How come there are no drivers for smarphones? You mean there are no GPU, wifi, audio, touchscreen drivers etc.? I thought smartphones act the same way as PCs do.
9. Is there a phone that isn't locked by ******* vendors? So that I could update operating system regardless of who the hell put CPU GPU RAM and their badge on top of it?

Sorry, but I am starting to realise smartphones are not like PCs. They are just toys with linux kernel srewed by vendors so that you would buy a new one once they stop supporting it. Samsung, Sony, LG all of them are nothing but a middle man between hardware manufacturers. Just like Dell, lenovo, hp, acer is between you and Intel, Nvidia, AMD, Asus, msi, Gigabyte etc. Why can't we have a tiny PC powered by efficient ARM chip that would act the same way all computers do?

1. You kind of answered your own question in your first post. Phones don't have two GPUs or BIOSs that you can use in case one of them gets bricked.
9. The Nexus line gets updated as soon as Google releases a new Android version. Recently, Motorola has been quick with updates as well, releasing them within a few weeks of the Nexus devices. They've even beaten Google to release their OTA updates a couple of times

And to answer your question from earlier, the equivalent of a Linux distro on Android would pretty much be the various custom ROMs made by the Dev community. (Ex: CyanogenMod, Paranoid Android, SOKP, Slim, etc.)
 

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