How to get more space for apps on the Milestone

Here’s a nice little tip for gaining some more app space on the phone, you will need root and either the adb shell or a terminal app on the phone.

Even after updating the Milestone to the latest Android 2.2.1 release, many of the apps in ROM were already out of date by the time it was released.

This is annoying as some of the updates (Maps in particular) end up occupying considerable app space.

It is possible though to update the apps in ROM, thereby freeing tens of MB in some cases, here’s how: –

Firstly, you need the APK’s for the apps you wish to update, the easiest way I’ve found to do this is to use Estrongs File Explorer.

Press the menu button then select the ‘Manager’ option: –

You will then be presented with a list of options: –

Select the ‘App Manager’ option. The app will start to scan the installed applications, wait for it to finish: –

Once this is complete, a list of the installed applications will be shown, press and hold on one of the items in the list and then press select all.

The application will now proceed to back up all the apk’s for the installed apps (there may be some that it cannot do, but most will be backed up).

It’s then worth looking in the Manage Applications menu on the phone and sorting the applications by size, in order to get an idea of which apps are using most memory and would benefit most from being updated in ROM. Concentrate on the apps that are standard parts of the ROM, e.g. Gmail, Facebook, Maps etc.

I suggest then that you create a folder in the SD card containing the apps you wish to update, I created a new folder called appnew, then copied the updated apk’s saved by ES file explorer to that folder.

Also create a folder to backup the existing system apps to, I created one called appbak, in the root of the SD card.

Now, go back into the applications menu and uninstall any updates for apps you wish to replace, it may also be wise to kill those apps with a task manager if they are running.

The next stage is to mount the system partition as read-write and create a backup copy of the default apps in ROM, to do this fire up your adb shell or terminal app, and type the following: –

$ su

$ mount -o rw,remount -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock6 /system

$ cd /system/app

$ cp *.apk /sdcard/appbak/

This will copy all of the apk files to the sdcard, so they can be restored in the event of any problems.

The next stage is to delete the apps you wish to update, e.g.

$ rm Gmail.apk

Do this for every app you wish to replace, you can get a list of the apk’s by typing ls, or ls -l for a detailed list.

Now copy the updated application to the system/app partition, e.g.

$ cp /sdcard/appnew/Gmail_2.3.4.1.apk /system/app/

There’s no problem with leaving the version number in the file name, and it may be useful when updating later on.

Do this for the apps you wish to update, taking care not to fill the disk space (type df to find out free space).

It is also possible to add additional apps into the ROM, but be VERY wary of using all the disk space, I can’t be liable for the consequences of any mishaps, but I have, for example, put the Skype application for the UK Three network into ROM without any issues.

Once you have copied all of the apps you wish to update, remount the filesytem read-only: –

$ mount -o ro,remount /dev/block/mtdblock6 /system

Then reboot the phone: –

$ reboot

You will find the replaced apps take a little longer to start the first time they are run, as they install, but after that they will work as normal and you will have free some significant app space, I gained almost 15-20 MB from this process.

As always, feedback is welcomed!



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