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Question 1: what's the android recovery mode? Does it run a full linux kernel?
Question 2: where the recovery.img is installed? (/somewhere_in_filesystem)

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. Recovery mode is used mainly by carriers/manufacturers for replacing bad firmware that causes the phone to be otherwise unbootable. Users can install signed packages (such as OTA updates) through it as well. It does not run a full Linux kernel. Custom recovery modes such as Clockworkmod exist also, which allow more complex things such as full backup and restore of the device software and data.
  2. I'm not sure where recovery.img is unpacked to, but you can let the system handle that by using the following: adb shell flash_image recovery <path-to-recovery-image>, where the path is normally something like /sdcard/custom_recovery.img (wherever you put the image)
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thank you, matthew! I mean 'unpack to', the img file should be unpacked to somewhere in the filesystem. – lovespring Jan 25 '11 at 20:23
I've updated it :) – Matthew Read Jan 25 '11 at 20:57
I don't think recovery.img goes into the file system. I'm pretty sure it gets a dedicated partition in storage. – Edward Falk Feb 17 at 21:58

Recovery mode is a minimal OS that boots from another partition. It does run a Linux kernel without some display/network/3g modules. On some ROMS you can actually start adb shell while the device is in recovery mode and see the kernel running (adb shell ps)

the recovery.img image is installed in a block device (partition) usually /dev/mmcblk[x]p[y]

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