That’ll teach me not to use an experimental ROM

Every alpha or beta release of software comes with a disclaimer of sorts—basically that you shouldn’t expect the software to be stable and you shouldn’t trust it for your main productivity. But it’s hard to know how seriously to take such disclaimers.

GMail was in beta testing for years before finally being released. And almost the whole time it was in beta, plenty of users were using it as their main email account.

In the past, I’ve used alpha and beta releases of Ubuntu Linux and have had only minor problems (an application crashing every now and then)—actually nothing that I didn’t also occasionally experience with so-called “stable” official releases.

Then again, ReactOS comes with a disclaimer that it’s alpha software, and that disclaimer should be taken seriously. I tried to use ReactOS, and it basically just froze up after every reboot. It was virtually unusable. Anyone interested in ReactOS for serious productivity would be better off using Wine in Linux.

Very shortly after I got my MyTouch 3G Android phone (also known as the HTC Magic), I installed a custom ROM on it called Cyanogen. It’s a very popular rooted ROM to install. I’d used that for months, and it was great. Recently, out of curiosity, I tried out the latest “experimental” (not “stable”) ROM from Cyanogen. For a couple of hours, it seemed good. Then I plugged it in to charge it for the night. In the morning, the screen was dead. There was a light on at the top. But any button I pressed appeared to do nothing. I was in a minor panic. Had I bricked my phone? Did I totally destroy it?

So I took out the battery, put it back in, powered up my phone in recovery mode and flashed back the latest Nandroid backup, and everything was good. I’m back on stable Cyanogen, and I think that’s where I’m going to stay!

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5 Comments

  1. Yes that will teach you. So how are you guys? Anything intresting going on? Like how about an old man and a doggy treat?

  2. I’m was sort of surprised when Google took Gmail out of beta.. (I’ve used it for 5 years now.) But I guess they must have run out of ideas for further big changes.

    It was getting to be a joke: Keep Gmail perpetually in beta so that they can make whatever changes they want whenever they want (buggy or not) — and always be able to fall back on “Well, sorry, but it *is* in beta..”

    But I guess the “Labs Features” have taken over that function now, so that may have prompted it.

  3. Talking of which, I’d never noticed (alright, maybe after the first few weeks or so) gmail got a little *beta* note under the logo. It’s so slick, and smooth, and everything. Until the day I read on Digg that gmail has come out of beta, and I was, like, what? when did they open this *beta* stage?
    And so are other products. Most the time, when a thing come to open beta stage, all the reason there are open beta is because developers want to test it on a more variety system combination, and because they want to advertise it, not because it’s a unstable, buggy software.

  4. Sure, but most products are in beta for only about a year, and are eager to move on to “release” status. Google seemed to have been flouting that tradition to have essentially a “released” product (albeit one that they aren’t charging for) that they don’t feel honor-bound to keep stable (in feature set as well as bugs).

    Not that I’m complaining — I like what they’ve done & what they ended up with. It’s just that they revised the meaning of being in beta from “It’s about ready for RTM but we can’t test everything in depth so let’s let early adopters help out” to “There’s never going to be an RTM, so let’s just keep evolving it as we come up with clever ideas to rework what an email client can be”.

    The results don’t click for everyone, but they’ve still done a brilliant job of it.

  5. Thankfully I haven’t had too many problems (beyond occasionally wiping my desktop shortcuts) with the Cynogen experimental ROMs, but I did get lucky enough to avoid i think 4.1.8 that screwed up a bunch of phones temporarily.

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