webOS 1.2 woes: corrupted installs, broken hacks, and restoration | webOS Nation

webOS 1.2 woes: corrupted installs, broken hacks, and restoration

by Derek Kessler Tue, 29 Sep 2009 3:46 pm EDT

Palm Pre In all the years I’ve been watching technology, I have never seen a system update go off without a single hitch. There’s always something that goes wrong, and yesterday’s webOS update to 1.2.0 was no exception.

The majority of users have updated to 1.2.0 with nary a hitch to be found. But in the interests of full disclosure (and commiseration with your pain), here are some of the issues our members are facimg:

In the category of “things that don’t work the way they were supposed to work,” some 1.2 users have noted that when they receive a new IM/SMS message notification, only the message icon and the user’s picture are displayed - no text along with the notification. The launcher, which could previously be opened by swiping up in card view and closed by swiping down, now only responds to up swipes (open and close). The main reason for this is that a quick down-swipe on the top of the screen now will bring you either of the top menus. Similarly notifications cannot be minimized with a swipe down - you must either dismiss the notification or tap in the open app and hope you don’t touch an on-screen button.

And that’s not all, users have reported Google services location pinpointing their location up to ten miles off target (GPS works correctly), that IMAP Idle is not working, that email error messages keep repeating, and that Classic WiFi HotSync does not yet work (likely an update to Classic is also needed). There are several other issues that have affected a handful of users, ranging from issues with gDial to frozen web browsing to USB charging suddenly not working.

As we expected but hoped wouldn’t happen, webOS 1.2 also broke our ability to hack, though likely through no foul play on Palm’s part. While for the vast majority of users programs like FileCoaster and Preware installed prior to webOS 1.2 still work, the update did break the ability of webOS Quick Install to connect to the phone. The update also broke the virtual keyboard, which as we know did modify some system files to work properly. [Correction: The virtual keyboard has been updated and works correctly with webOS 1.2] Without being able to connect webOS Quick Install, there’s currently no way to reinstall the hacks that many of us have come to enjoy. Theme application has suffered from breakage, so we have taken down the PreCentral Theme feed in the meantime while we evaluate how to fix it.

We doubt that Palm had any malicious intent behind changing the files that these hacks and patches depended on. Palm knows that the large majority of Pre users have not made such modifications to their phones, so they prioritized on delivering a better experience for that majority of users instead of dealing with unauthorized but tolerated hacks and exploits of webOS. It’s not likely that Palm has done anything to block off access to these patches, so we expect that the developers behind all our favorite hacks and patches are already at work getting back into webOS 1.2. It’s only a matter of time, so have some patience on this front.

On a front that deserves no patience, however, is an issue that has affected at least a dozen PreCentral readers. After installing webOS 1.2, their phones reset to factory fresh. Normally, this wouldn’t be a huge hassle, as once you reboot the phone and log into your Palm Profile, the Pre will pull down all the backed-up information from Palm’s servers and you’ll be back in the game. Sadly, Palm’s servers were hit hard by the update rush (again) and went down. With the server down, you can’t log into your Palm Profile to download your backup. With the server down you can’t even create a new Palm Profile to use while you wait for the backups to return. Essentially, with the server down you can’t use a factory-reset phone (be it through update issues or webOS Doctor) since you can’t log into or create a Palm Profile.

Thankfully for many the issue seems to have been resolved with Palm’s servers coming back online this morning, but this is an important lesson in the risks of the cloud: if the server goes down, your service goes down. We’ve seen it with repeated Gmail crashes over the past few months, and now we’ve seen it with Palm. The folks in Sunnyvale have seen their servers crash before even with additions to the App Catalog and the rush for new stuff (seriously, it wouldn’t be so bad if you spread it out over the week); some serious server upgrades are going to be needed post haste if Palm expects to cope with the number of new users they’re going to get in the coming months with the Pre launching in Europe and the Pixi here in the States.

Oddly, several users reported that after they installed the 79 MB webOS 1.2.0 update, their phone prompted them to install a second 1.2.0 update, though this one weighed in at 153 MB. Despite being nearly double the size, the second update doesn’t seem to have brought any new features or tweaks, nor has it broken anything horribly. In fact, those that installed the larger update even report the same build number (171) as those that only installed the smaller one. We’re just going to file this one under W for “weirdness.”

Thankfully for the overwhelming majority of Pre owners, the update to webOS 1.2.0 went off without a hitch. Most of the glitches we’ve described above have only appeared sporadically (though broken hacks are a universal constant), but if you’ve seen these problems, take heart that you are not alone. If all else fails, there is the updated webOS Doctor to completely reset your phone to factory fresh, though you may want to try contacting Palm’s support staff before going that far.