After a short beta testing period over at the XDA Developers forums, Heimdall 1.3.0 (an enormous update) is now ready for release. However, on top of this, I’ve somehow finally managed to find some time to release the somewhat illusive Anti-Squish graphical update. Anti-Squish is my little casual Android game. Up until recently it’s had some pretty terrible programmer art created by none other than the incredibly untalented “me”. But a big thanks goes out to Amora Leite who has totally revamped the graphical side of things. The new graphics look absolutely fantastic!
I don’t know how much Anti-Squish will appeal to you die-hard firmware flashing folk, but if you’ve got some time to kill then please give it a try. There’s a Lite edition with limited functionality as well as the fully functional $2.00 (AUD) paid version. Even if you’re not overly interested you could consider your purchase a small donation towards Heimdall’s cause. If you head over to the Anti-Squish product page you can see some screenshots and use the direct Android market links to download the app.
Now onto Heimdall Suite 1.3.0. Firstly, this is a enormous release. Some additional functionality has been added to Heimdall (command line) that adds the ability to download a device’s PIT file and Galaxy S II support has been vastly improved. However the real additions come in the form of a completely revamped Heimdall Frontend. However the changes aren’t just visual, in particular Heimdall Frontend 1.3.0 now includes support for the creation, loading and flashing of the brand new Heimdall Firmware Package format!
If you’ve come from using Heimdall Frontend 1.1.1 then you may be slightly intimidated by the new “Flash” tab. The “Flash” tab is the place where you can manually map individual files to partitions on a device and perform a flash. This is the same as general idea as the previous release of Heimdall Frontend. The new implementation is substantially more robust. Other than the user interface changes, the main difference is that in order to perform a “custom flash” you must always specify a PIT file. This is regardless of whether or not you intend to repartition. The PIT file contains device specific information that Heimdall Frontend utilises in order to ensure the same user interface can be used with all Galaxy S devices. This includes device that are presently available as well as devices that are yet to be released.
Galaxy Tab and Galaxy S II users in particular will have noticed that the old Heimdall Frontend 1.1.1 did not provide them with a means to flash all the partitions on their device, also some partitions listed may not have even existed for their device. The new PIT file based user interface ensures that you’re able to flash all the partitions on your device and you’ll never see partitions listed that aren’t for your device.
Of course the new PIT based user interface assumes that you have access to the PIT file that is presently installed on your device. Depending on where your firmware came from then you may have the correct PIT file laying around somewhere on your hard-disk. However that’s certainly not the case for all users and there’s always the potential of getting confused if you have multiple PIT files from different firmwares. This is where the brand new “Utilities” tab comes in.
The “Utilities” tab provides you with some additional functionality previously only available from Heimdall command line such as the ability to detect a device or close the infamous “phone <---> PC” screen. However most importantly, you can use this tab to download your device’s current PIT file straight from the device itself! No confusion, no mucking about, just connect your device to your PC in download mode, chose where you want to save the PIT file on your PC and download away. Now if you want to perform a custom flash it’s just as simple as returning to the “Flash” tab and selecting the PIT you just downloaded. No stress or confusion, you’re now able to flash exactly which partitions are presently available on your device!
The new PIT file based flashing is hugely important, but it’s not the killer feature. As mentioned above Heimdall Frontend now supports a brand new firmware distribution files known as Heimdall Firmware Packages. These are with out a doubt the preferred means of flashing. It takes the technical details of flashing of the shoulders of end-users and hands the responsibility over to the more knowledgeable firmware developers.
From the end-users point of view this new functionality is immediately available as soon as you open Heimdall Frontend, the tab is now the “Load Package” tab. After downloading a Heimdall Firmware Package all an end-user needs to do is click the “Browse” button and select the package they’ve downloaded. Heimdall Frontend will automatically decompress the package and display information about the package. The information available includes the firmware name, version, base Android version, developer names, buttons that link to the developer’s homepage and donation page, a list of included files, and most important for the end-user, a list supported device! Assuming the developer filled out the information correctly then straight away the end-user knows if the package they’ve downloaded will work on their device. If you don’t see your device listed then it’s pretty clear you don’t want to use the package, no more incorrect firmware bricks! Once you confirm your device is listed all you need to do is press the “Load / Customise” button and you’ll be swapped to the “Flash” tab, providing you with a chance to customise the package before flashing if you desire. Now assuming your device is connected to the PC in download mode then flashing becomes as simple as pressing the “Start” button.
This is absolutely great for the end users, however firmware developers are not forgotten.
Heimdall Frontend provides a clean interface for creation of a Heimdall Firmware Package. Simply fill out the “Flash” tab as you would when performing a custom flash, then make your way over to the “Create Package” tab, which will be available after you’ve filled out the “Flash” tab. Then it’s as simple as filling out the required information and pushing the “Build” button and Heimdall Frontend will spit out a fully redistributable compressed Heimdall Firmware Package! Not only does distributing your packages in this format guarantee that users can flash your firmware from Windows, Linux and OS X, the hugely simplified flashing procedure (over previous versions of Heimdall and current versions of Odin) means that you have the ability to help save a lot of bricks. There’s also the added benefit of ensuring users know who created the package and if you want you’re able to provide them with a simple means to donate to your cause as well as customer supported and detailed information from your homepage.
All in all Heimdall Frontend 1.3.0 includes some amazing new features that benefit end-users and developers alike. However compared to the previous release performing a custom flash is definitely a slightly more involved process. So the key feature of Heimdall Frontend 1.3.0 is without a doubt the new Heimdall Firmware Package functionality. As such I’m really hoping the Heimdall Firmware Package format will be heavily adopted by firmware developers.
Please remember to always read the README included in all Heimdall releases. The README includes detailed instructions for both end-users and developers alike. For Debian users the README will be installed to /usr/share/doc/heimdall/README. To download the latest release, make your way over to the Heimdall product page .
As always, a lot of effort goes into the development of Heimdall so please consider donating. Don’t forget to check out Anti-Squish, and have fun!