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I have an Samsung Galaxy S3. TouchWiz is great, but I want to use the vanilla Android OS you see on the Nexus 4. Is this possible?

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Possibly covered by Flash a smartphone with vanilla Android ROM –  eldarerathis Jan 21 '13 at 18:32
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marked as duplicate by Izzy, Al E., eldarerathis Jun 7 '13 at 13:47

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In theory, it should be possible to compile Android from source, with proprietary blobs for the specific device.

In practice, however, this is largely impossible, with the exception of Nexus devices and those from community dev-friendly manufacturers like Sony.

Samsung, in particular, is notorious for providing terribly (un)organized sources, and even the talented hackers of Cyanogenmod team are frustrated, and many have sold off their devices and moved to Sony and Nexus devices.

So, your only realistic option is to install a community ROM like CM10.1. Again, it is not bug-free or fully featured as stock firmware.

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CM is biased towards Samsung and that the creator of CM works for Samsung so he gets all the freebies and rolls out CM more orientated towards Samsung. Yes, Samsung has caused frustration because they are not exactly forthcoming, look at the Exynos chipset which Samsung refused to disclose...and thus CM is not the brightest nor stable either, that last comment is my personal bias of dis-like for CM anyway :) –  t0mm13b Jan 21 '13 at 17:11
    
You may have your reasons to hate CM so much, but at least get your facts right. Only Steve Kondik works for Samsung, but CM is a huge project with dozens of maintainers. The reason CM has releases for Samsung quickly is because it is the no 1 OEM, which means more users who want custom ROMs, and also more devs who have the device to play with. If you follow CM devs on Google+, you'll see that many have sold their Samsung devices and are starting on Sony. Mark my words, Xperia T and newer will get great dev support soon. –  Sumesh Feb 1 '13 at 3:05
    
I know Sony are going to come out the underdogs in this! ;) nuff said –  t0mm13b Feb 1 '13 at 3:13
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Yes, there's two avenues:

  • Download a vanilla AOSP ROM that targets SGSIII provided
    • Your handset is rooted and running custom recovery
    • Flash the update.zip of that AOSP ROM that targets the same.
  • Build your own from scratch provided
    • Your desktop computer, have heaps of disk space and running Linux 64bit
    • Heaps of RAM, 8Gb minimum, and is a quad core or better
    • Download the android source from the official code repository.
    • Populate the device tree that matches your device, with proprietary blobs
    • Have an hour or two of free time as it takes a while to compile and finally spit out a system.img, boot.img and update.zip
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