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I just picked up a Viewsonic G-Tablet. It's got killer hardware specs and is running Android 2.2 but it's barely usable because of this terrible TapUI that's crippling the device. I have been following a thread at the XDA forums where users are attempting to root it and get a custom ROM installed, but I'm wondering how hard it is to just wipe it clean and get the stock Android 2.2 running on it. The people who have rooted and blocked most of the TapUI report losing access to their settings, which I guess is heavily integrated into the TapUI.

Is the problem that Android 2.2 doesn't support specific hardware and someone needs to create a ROM with all the necessary drivers?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Basically you have to compile Android for that device with its drivers. Example of compilation process. An older example from the official dev site for building 1.6 for the G1.

Devices like the N1 and G1 (Dev phones) let you easily put these images on your phone after compilation, because that is what they were made for (unlockable and hackable). I believe their drivers are in the official Android source (I could be wrong, but they are easily available).

All other devices don't come unlocked, so first you have to unlock (root) your phone to be able to write anything else to it.

I've never compiled Android or a ROM, so I can't give you much more details than this. Essentially there are proprietary binaries (the drivers) that are also needed for each specific Android phone in order to get it to run on that device. So you either have to get those drivers from the vendor or write them yourself.

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It is up to the manufacturer of the device to provide the appropriate and functional drivers for any hardware on their device. Unfortunately, many of them also like to add their own UI (often poorly designed and implemented). This is the case with the TapUI from all I've heard. This is not a problem with Android. It's a problem with Viewsonic.

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I'm not trying to place blame when I say "problem" but isolate the solution. So you are saying that the issue is that Viewsonic has not released their drivers? And a stock version of Android won't work without them? Also, how about a crack at my question? What's involved in installing Android onto a device? What steps & components are necessary? –  Matt Nov 2 '10 at 16:44
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Bryan's answer covers the concept well. You don't need extra hardware really. You just need a compiled version of Android that is compatible with the hardware in question (i.e. includes the necessary hardware drivers). You copy the binaries and it will need an "installer" application which will install it on the hardware. That's a bit oversimplified, especially if something goes wrong during the install. If that happens you can lose access to the hardware and generally then only the manufacturer can restore it using specialized hardware. A lot of people don't want to risk that. –  BBlake Nov 2 '10 at 18:54

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