Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Fixing a Galaxy Tab 10.1 "Infinite Reboot" State

I've had this documented in my personal notes for awhile, but it dawned on me today that perhaps others out there may benefit from my experience, so I am going to post this publicly.

Last year Google provided attendees of Google I/O a very nice tablet -- the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, not to be confused with the retail version of the 10.1, this edition has the "army of androids" on the back, and has a slightly different version of Android on it.  Unfortunately, it also seems to have a habit of occasionally getting stuck into an "infinite reboot" state.  The tablet will freeze, restart, run through the initial startup animation, pause, and then restart again.  Repeat ad nauseam until the battery dies.  I've had my tablet get into this state twice since I got it.  Rumor has it, if you report the problem to Samsung, it is a ship-back-to-the-manufacturer type of problem, but if you have a few technical skills, this may not be necessary.



Prerequisites

  1. USB cable and the power brick for the tablet.
  2. A computer with the Android SDK and the Samsung USB driver installed, and at least one available USB port.  EDIT: It would appear that the SDK is not sufficient for this process to work.  It is a bit of a bodge to get it to work, but apparently installing PdaNet will install the necessary drivers.
  3. A broken Galaxy Tab 10.1 tablet (obviously)
Process
  1. If your tablet is still stuck in a reboot loop, plug it into a power source and then hold down the power button until a battery icon displays on the screen.  If you don't have much of a charge, you might consider letting it store a few electrons before continuing.
  2. Bring the tablet into "fastboot" mode.  This can be done by pressing and holding both the power button and the "volume down" button (the button closest to the power button).  Continue to hold these buttons until you see a screen showing a yellow USB logo and a flashing Android icon (apparently known as "odin").  Highlight the USB icon by pressing the volume down key once, then select by pressing volume up.  You should be in fastboot mode now.
  3. Plug the tablet into your computer.  With luck, it will recognize the tablet.
  4. Change into the "platform-tools" directory of your SDK (on my PC, it was in c:\Program Files (x86)\Android\android-sdk\platform-tools)
  5. Run "adb start-server"
  6. Verify that your tablet was successfully recognized by running "fastboot devices".  (NOTE: The fastboot command is actually in ..\tools, but it may need to be run from the platform-tools directory.  When I didn't, I received an error about a missing library/DLL).
  7. The all-important step:  Run "fastboot -w" to "w"ipe the userdata and cache areas.  This took about 20-30 seconds for me.
  8. Reset the tablet and remove the USB cable.  The initial boot will take awhile (I'm guessing it is reformatting filesystems and the like).
References

I am not an Android developer, so this process was largely developed after doing several Google searches.  Some places that were particularly helpful to me were:

Hopefully this text will prove useful to someone else out there.