Tuesday, November 11, 2014

BitTorrent Sync and how to Root a modern HTC One M8


I just have discovered BitTorrent Sync. Now I can sync my carefully managed collection of music from my desktop PC with my work PC with my MacBook Pro with my Android phone. There are no fees and no bandwith or storage limits. Great!

Unfortunately since Android 4.4.2, access to the external SD card has been restricted. Now BT Sync is only allowed to write to /Android/data/com.bittorrent.sync on the external SD card.

The Android media scanner does not scan this folder and regular music players (like the stock Android music player and Google Play Music) will therefore not know about music in this folder.

You can play your music with a free app called Music Folder Player to work around this. But I wanted to use Google Play Music because it integrates with Google Voice Search and my Android Wear watch.

Solution: Root the phone so BT Sync can write to any folder it likes on the external SD card

Rooting an Android phone lets you run commands as the user "root".  The root user has read-write access to the system config files and can remove the restrictions on the external SD card.

Rooting your phone could theoretically go wrong and render your phone useless.  You proceed at your own risk!

Rooting a phone is generally a different procedure for each type of phone.  Here's my scenario:
  • Country of residence: UK
  • Network: Three
  • Handset: HTC One M8
  • Purchased: Aug-2014
  • OS: Android 4.4.4 (customised by Three)

Steps I took for my phone

  1. Root the phone using this guide.  Note that this step will wipe everything off the phone.
  2. Maybe optional for you. I couldn't save changes to the system config file because they are held in NAND memory and NAND memory is protected S-ON mode. So disable S-ON (i.e. gain S-OFF) by following this firewater guide.
  3. The firewater method didn't work for me. This is presumably because my modern HTC One M8 had an update in place which prevented the firewater hack. So I side-loaded and ran the Sunshine APK. Sunshine informed me that my device is eligable and prompted me to pay $25 using PayPal.
  4. Now I can make changes to my system files, so I ran SDFix which makes a tiny change to /etc/permissions/platform.xml which grants read-write access to the external SD file.
  5. Reboot the phone to apply the changes made to platform.xml

Now BitTorrent Sync does not complain when I point it to "SD card/Music". The Android media scanner watches this folder, so all the regular music players will play music from here. Hurrah!

Keywords: British UK HTC One M8 Three Google Play Music mp3 BitTorrent Sync /Android/data/com.bittorrent.sync Error message Don't Have Permissions To Write To Selected Folder

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