In many ways, CyanogenMod is given we exist today.

Hyperbolic as that might seem, and maybe a tiny too personal for a tech blog, it’s a truth. Seven years ago this Christmas a workplace collision rendered my right palm mostly useless. we couldn’t type, painkillers kept me in bed many of a day, and we had dual opposite doctors revelation me medicine was doubtful to revive adequate of my palm that I’d be means to do customarily about all of a things we enjoyed doing. we was in a severely dim place, and when we wasn’t perplexing to figure out how let my family hearten me adult we was sneaking in open CyanogenMod IRC channel customarily to keep my mind busy.

I was means to watch as a CyanogenMod organisation grew from a tiny open plead with a handful of crafty ideas into a tellurian community.

The time we spent examination as all of these conspicuous people used any notation of their giveaway time worked together to build ways for their phones to do new and extraordinary things not customarily speedy me to pull myself to find ways to contribute, it gave me a singular perspective. we was means to watch as a CyanogenMod organisation grew from a tiny open plead with a handful of crafty ideas into a tellurian community.

Unfortunately that means we was also there to watch as a module association that grew from this village fast burnt to a belligerent and pissed off a satisfactory commission of that constant community. What excites me now with a recently announced Lineage OS climbing out from a CyanogenMod remains has a lot to do with what vehement me about CM from a beginning, and that’s what happens when crafty people plainly speak about what is probable with their gangling time.

Back before anyone knew better

Nexus One

My adventures with CyanogenMod didn’t start until a Nexus One, nonetheless customarily given we really indispensable my HTC G1 to be as fast as possible. we bought a G1 a day it was expelled given it had a Linux Terminal, and that meant we could remotely entrance my work servers and troubleshoot patron needs nonetheless carrying my laptop around everywhere. we worked for a tiny web hosting association and it was critical that we always be prepared to answer a support call when we wasn’t in a office. we was wakeful of a existence of CyanogenMod as a intensity alternative, nonetheless didn’t unequivocally worry with it.

Most people didn’t hear about CyanogenMod until Google attempted to tighten a devise down. A Cease And Desist notation from Google left a organisation meditative a devise was totally dead, given Google didn’t wish a disdainful collection of a OS enclosed in these village builds. You could build Android and do whatever we wanted to it, nonetheless Google’s apps indispensable to be separate. The proceed around this fast became installing a core OS built by CyanogenMod and afterwards anticipating GApps elsewhere and installing that on top, nonetheless a surefire proceed to move a Internet’s courtesy to something is to tell them they can’t have it. With a spotlight on a project, it grew quickly.

If we bought something and weren’t means to change it to work a proceed we wanted it to, we didn’t possess it.

The Nexus One was opposite for me. It was a present after my accident, so we didn’t need it for work. This was cave to play with, so we started looking for a best resources to learn how to tinker. Most resources during a time forked me to a XDA forums, nonetheless we found myself drawn to a real-time communication of a CyanogenMod IRC. In these comparatively early days, a open channel existed as ubiquitous communication and support. People would dump in, ask a question, and there was customarily adequate people around to lend a palm with whatever problem they were having. At this point, there was never some-more than 150 people active and a ubiquitous review was geared toward pity ideal and operative by issues found when implementing new ideas.

Watching a channel over a duration of months was good for me. The Nexus One was many easier for people to tinker with, that combined to a fast flourishing recognition of a project. we was means to watch other people ask a questions we had, given typing with one palm took me forever, and before prolonged we was means to offer assistance to those that had come in with common questions. This fast became a amicable opening for me. we done friends in a channel, and we all knew roughly when any other would be online. For someone reduction schooled like me, this meant we could make certain we was around when Cyanogen and Koush and others were around so we could learn from them as they worked out new ways to exercise their ideas.

The organisation suspicion was if we bought something and weren’t means to change it to work a proceed we wanted, we didn’t possess it.

At this point, a purpose of CyanogenMod was wholly personal. The organisation suspicion was if we bought something and weren’t means to change it to work a proceed we wanted it to work, we didn’t possess it. For some people this meant ways to capacitate tethering in a time when a OS itself didn’t offer a feature. For others, this meant tweaking a underlying hardware to maximize battery life. All of these ideas came together, and a things that worked got combined into a subsequent build. That subsequent build would be announced on XDA, and shortly after tiny detonate of new users would come into a IRC to ask for assistance or speak about a new proceed to exercise a feature. Rinse, build, repeat.

Expansion and Monetization

As many fun as a Nexus One organisation was, things didn’t unequivocally take off for Android as a whole until Motorola and Verizon expelled a strange Droid. Verizon’s selling bill drew in all kind of users looking for a central answer to not carrying an iPhone, and with that came tons of new people fervent to play with all of a cold things a Nexus One kids were personification with. This lifted several engaging problems during a time. For one, roughly no one in a CyanogenMod organisation had Verizon Wireless and even fewer people had a enterprise to switch carriers. Perhaps some-more important, several other Android phones had been expelled both to GSM conduit in a US and internationally. Everyone wanted a proceed to peep CyanogenMod, nonetheless any of these phones had apart needs and compulsory apart maintainers.

This was a uncanny time for Android, where carriers were doing things like disabling NFC chips in phones for clearly no reason.

The singular IRC channel fast fragmented into many opposite channels to some-more simply plead a particular needs of any device. Working with Verizon phones was a comparatively low priority for most, both given Verizon was proceed some-more expected to be litigious and given CDMA networks are difficult and terrible things compared to a relations morality of GSM.

The enterprise to support these phones grew quickly, though, mostly out of necessity. HTC had expelled a Evo on Sprint with a customized chronicle of Android, Motorola’s Droid wasn’t utterly a same as “stock Android”, and Samsung was releasing phones on ATT and T-Mobile with their customizations as well. These modifications all had a same things in common: they had a integrate of ideas that were value implementing on CyanogenMod, and module updates to supplement facilities Google was releasing weren’t entrance to these phones anytime soon.

Supporting all of these phones compulsory some-more than customarily a giveaway time of a integrate gifted module developers and crafty tinkerers. Each new build took time and appetite on someone’s computer, and a enterprise for a centralized repository for all of a ideas being tested on all of a phones was a must. The CyanogenMod donations integrate was pretty active, generally when organisation members reminded everybody a integrate existed, nonetheless in a time before Kickstarter or Patreon or unequivocally even poignant activity on Twitter this meant operative together to build a centralized place to build for all of these devices. It was time for a tiny blue bugdroid on a skateboard to turn stickers and buttons and even umbrellas to assistance compensate for a cost of progressing a usually augmenting cost of ancillary all during a gait Android was expanding.

It was time for a tiny blue bugdroid on a skateboard to turn stickers and buttons to assistance compensate for a cost of progressing a flourishing direct for builds, and builders.

The CyanogenMod organisation eventually grew to try reselling virtualized servers for other projects among other ideas, and eventually a devise itself started creation money. This meant some-more phones could be bought for some-more maintainers when new hardware was released, and eventually a organisation could offer nightly builds for a some-more renouned phones. Every night there was a new build accessible with a new tweak. Sometimes these were tiny changes, infrequently vital facilities were tested and added. Users got in a robe of flashing any singular day to try a new things and offer feedback, and a teams contributors with their possess ideas continued to grow alongside a users.

This expansion duration wasn’t adequate for anyone to pull a income or anything. CyanogenMod thrived as a devise that offering a softened proceed to use your phone, with facilities manufacturers possibly hadn’t suspicion of or didn’t wish to add. This was a uncanny time for Android, where carriers were doing things like disabling NFC chips in phones for clearly no reason and manufacturers were starting to figure out ways to build disdainful services that would inspire users to stay constant and customarily buy that brand. As many of those ideas unsuccessful and crumbled, CyanogenMod continued to flower and grow.

Growing adult is hard

CyanogenMod

Weirdly, CyanogenMod and Google motionless during right around a same time that Android indispensable to stop being a thing geeks desired and start being something everybody could use. For Google, that meant standardizing facilities and apropos some-more assertive with a manufacturer mandate for adding Google Apps to a phone. For CyanogenMod, that meant any singular thing a chairman wanted couldn’t be nonetheless another environment in a never finale list of options to capacitate or disable. Google and Android indispensable to be famous brands, and a Google services indispensable to be front and core for any user to appreciate. CyanogenMod indispensable to be something that was customarily as fast as a module that came on your phone, and in many ways customarily as easy to use.

It took both sides a unequivocally prolonged time to figure out what those changes meant, and not everybody concluded with how to proceed. Now that Apple’s iPhone was accessible on all of a same carriers we could get an Android phone, it became transparent a ability to pull a singular refurbish and have any iPhone turn softened was a underline people wanted. Google countered with a thespian reimagining of Google Services. This was no longer a gold of apps, it was a one resource for collection that developers could supplement to their apps and know it worked a same on any phone. It also meant Google could softened make confidence decisions if an app misbehaved or was working maliciously. Google’s answer to Apple’s concept temperament is a one core that can be mutated and softened nonetheless a user ever wanting to do anything.

This was no longer a integrate of internet strangers in their giveaway time, it was a organisation of tighten friends ardent about building something great.

CyanogenMod had a somewhat easier preference to make and exercise by comparison, nonetheless a people creation those decisions were not orderly in a corporate fashion. This was, by and large, a common of voices that talked out any preference before creation it. Streamlining CyanogenMod brought adult some questions that weren’t easy to answer, like how many people indeed indispensable bottom entrance after an refurbish was commissioned and either there unequivocally indispensable to be 5 toggle switches for how your presentation light behaved. These questions started to beam a OS itself in a new direction, one that was reduction about adding a new underline given we could and some-more about formulating a honestly useful choice to a reduction means versions of Android being expelled by Samsung and HTC and others.

At a same time, hardware manufacturers were doing some sappy of their own. Competing with Apple in a universe where Google was means to make their will on a proceed module worked meant competing roughly exclusively in performance. Bigger, aloft fortitude displays and impressively means audio or photography collection became a biggest articulate points. Suddenly a review was all about specific ways we could use your phone that could customarily occur on this phone, and reduction about a many megapixels or either a battery was replaceable. Meanwhile, Google’s Nexus module began a cost fight with inclination like a Nexus 4 and Nexus 5. Did it unequivocally matter if your phone had all of a best specs if we could get it for half a cost of a things that were deliberate a best? It’s a doubt still being answered today, with new reasons to have a review any integrate of months.

Everything was sappy during a crazy rate, and a people spending any notation of their giveaway time on this passion devise now had hundreds of thousands of constant users fervent to see what happened next. While tiny compared to a altogether scale of Android, a CyanogenMod village had turn a large tellurian effort. A standalone website with minute instructions for new users with hundreds of opposite phones existed, and a one CyanogenMod recover cycle ensured a organisation was building once and everybody had scarcely matching experiences. This was no longer a integrate of internet strangers in their giveaway time, it was a organisation of tighten friends ardent about building something great.

Going corporate

The subsequent step for CyanogenMod couldn’t have been some-more clear. This chronicle of Android was now good adequate to be a kind of thing people who aren’t nerds could use and enjoy. CyanogenMod could have legitimately been something we handed a family member and didn’t worry about things like foot looping or apps constantly crashing. More people started seeking what it would take for CyanogenMod to indeed be an choice out of a box for users, nonetheless a answer wasn’t a good one.

Here’s a thing about CyanogenMod: it’ll never exist as a default choice on a phone we buy in a genuine store. It can’t, not legally anyway. Google has unequivocally specific manners about what needs to occur in sequence to approve Google Apps to be used officially, and a large partial of that is a square of hardware flitting a Compatibility Test Suite. There is no resource for an OS flitting this exam nonetheless being an central square of module for a phone. In sequence for CyanogenMod to be deliberate central and legitimate, a people obliged for module during a companies production hardware would need to see this OS as something some-more than a side project.

There will always be new ways a phones can be better, and I’d like to see a Lineage organisation deliver a few of them to us.

We all know what happened next. Steve Kondik and several others quit their day jobs, approached VCs, and cumulative appropriation to launch Cyanogen, Inc. This gave Kondik and others a ability to proceed and be approached by manufacturers and offer an choice to building a flare of Android in-house. For tiny hardware companies looking to make a hole in a bill hardware market, Cyanogen was unequivocally appealing. This third-party would hoop maintenance, updates, and Google certification. Their tiny nonetheless assertive village devise user bottom had a story of being rarely supportive, that even meant a wider organisation of US consumers that never would have given a phone a second demeanour would buy immediately. Several phones using Cyanogen OS were accessible shortly after a association launched, and these tiny victories speedy a association to grow aggressively.

It’s astray to contend that all wrong about what happened subsequent can be placed during a feet of Cyanogen Inc’s CEO, nonetheless Kirt McMaster is nonetheless a doubt a reason things went horribly wrong. Being overly egotistic to get a tiny courtesy from incomparable news organizations is not a new tactic by any stretch, nonetheless headlines about Cyanogen “putting a bullet in Google” with their flare of Android fast soured a village that helped emanate this company. From a viewpoint of users that had followed CyanogenMod for some time, McMaster was a loud-mouthed alien with tiny substance. When it became transparent in expelled emails his opinion was expected obliged for ruining early relations with hardware partners, village opinion of a CEO worsened quickly.

Having been to a Cyanogen Inc. offices to learn about a new association myself, and been with Cyanogen staff during several events since, it’s transparent McMaster was a divisive and argumentative CEO. As distant as we was concerned, a people building a CyanogenMod everybody could use were proceed some-more interesting. Fortunately, those people still exist and many are still ardent about that core suspicion about ownership. People should be means to do things with their hardware a manufacturer didn’t intend, and this is one of many village projects directed during that thought.

CyanogenMod as I’ve famous it over a final 7 years isn’t going anywhere. It’s removing a rebrand, some of a people I’ve come to call crony have altered on to other things, nonetheless a core thought still exists and Lineage OS is something we devise to compensate unequivocally tighten courtesy to. Android has altered a lot. I’ve argued many times that it’s gotten good adequate that village projects aren’t unequivocally producing things value many people creation a burst for anymore. Google is focused on creation their services new and sparkling by AI and some-more clearly tangible hardware experiences.

But a idea for village projects is a same, and it’s something anyone of any ability turn can attend in. Imagine a proceed your phone or a proceed we use your phone could be better, and speak with other people about how to make that happen. For me, behind in a Nexus One days, that thing was a proceed to answer a phone with a trackball. That thought speedy me to speak to people, learn how to make it work, and share that thought with a world. The many critical thing we schooled by that knowledge was how impossibly absolute a village module organisation can be if there’s a transparent goal.

While it’s loyal there’s a lot reduction damaged about Android nowadays, there will always be new ways a phones can be softened and I’d like to see a Lineage organisation deliver a few of them to us.

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