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Android 8.0 gets "streaming OS updates"
By Thom Holwerda on 2017-08-07 20:16:57

When you get that "out of space" error message during an update, you're only "out of space" on the user storage partition, which is just being used as a temporary download spot before the update is applied to the system partition. Starting with Android 8.0, the A/B system partition setup is being upgraded with a "streaming updates" feature. Update data will arrive from the Internet directly to the offline system partition, written block by block, in a ready-to-boot state. Instead of needing ~1GB of free space, Google will be bypassing user storage almost entirely, needing only ~100KB worth of free space for some metadata.

I promise not to make some snide remark about Android's update mess.

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Read Comments: 1-10 -- 11-17
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Comment by grandmasterphp
By grandmasterphp on 2017-08-07 22:33:45
In other news I download files to the free space on my hard drive.
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Comment by tidux
By tidux on 2017-08-08 00:54:59
So this is basically piping curl into dd of=/dev/mmcblk0pN without stopping to hash check the arriving binary? Fantastic, now we're one MITM away from giving network attackers full root. Intelligence agencies everywhere are nutting in their pants.
Permalink - Score: 3
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RE: Comment by tidux
By cacheline on 2017-08-08 01:17:12
Wait, did I miss something in the article (if I did, please point me to it, not being facetious, I'd really like to know)? Where did it say they weren't doing any kind of validation on the incoming binary?

With all the kernel hardening and efforts they've gone to, I'd be surprised if they did NOT check the incoming update for that. But, if there's an indication they really did miss that, I'd like to know!
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RE: Comment by grandmasterphp
By cacheline on 2017-08-08 01:18:28
In a way, I could see that. But, it sounds more like they're just marking a portion of your free space as reserved, so in reality, it's not free to user apps or the system for storing data, cache, etc.
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Thom: what about Project Treble?
By cacheline on 2017-08-08 01:21:54
I agree Android's updating mechanism has been a mess (more for non-Google branded phones than anything else). And as an Android dev, I'd love to drop support for KitKat (almost there, just not quite yet), as so many things become easier once you do. But, I'm looking with eager anticipation to see what Project Treble does. If they did their job well, in 2 years from now (once everyone can upgrade phones), we might well see users upgrading about as fast as iOS users do. That's a day I'd love to see. So, I'd rather give Google the benefit of the doubt here, and have some optimism...

https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2...
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RE[2]: Comment by tidux
By tidux on 2017-08-08 17:42:02
There's no way for them to do it ahead of time or while the transfer is running within the constraints imposed by the "100K of disk space" claim. At most they can do a hash check after the fact, and an attacker could force a reboot between the write and the hash check.
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RE[3]: Comment by tidux
By Licaon_Kter on 2017-08-08 23:00:15
Some ideas:
* 100kb is for metadata (eg. checksums I guess)
* it downloads to the "other" boot partition directly
* it could very well hash every chunk (think bittorrent, say every 4Mb)
* a reboot would not change to "other" boot until the update process validates and marks the switch

It sounds rather well.

Edited 2017-08-08 23:01 UTC
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Comment by sarreq
By sarreq on 2017-08-09 01:28:33
I want to like this, but if something happens DURING a streamed update, there better be some kind of backup.
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RE: Comment by sarreq
By CATs on 2017-08-09 07:05:03
> I want to like this, but if something happens DURING a streamed update, there better be some kind of backup.
Well duh... That's what a second partition is for.
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RE[4]: Comment by tidux
By tidux on 2017-08-09 10:44:20
> it downloads to the "other" boot partition directly

Nope, that's not what it does.
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