For the status of my phone before all of this, I unlocked the bootloader, installed ClockworkMod, and used it to install a root Zip. I never wanted or tried to get S-OFF. So the bootloader shows Tampered and Unlocked, but S-ON, version 1.54. Everything worked fine, and I was happy with the phone.
Now, before I get started, my desired end-state for this phone is a bone-stock KitKat installation. I'm okay with not having root, having stock recovery and bootloader, just as long as the stock OTAs arrive and install with zero mucking around with recoveries, ROMs, backups, etc. I bought this phone because I want stock Android and the latest updates ASAP, and I'm not very happy that I've had to spend all of this time messing with it and still don't have the update.
This take starts when the little update icon for KitKat showed up, and in my innocence, I pressed it.
The phone reboots, CWM flashes the update, and reboots into it. Instead of the normal boot, I am greeted with a blue-green screen covered with little green lines, unresponsive to any input. In retrospect, I think this is because I don't have S-OFF, and the KitKat update requires a radio update which the updater includes, but can't be flashed from a modified recovery without S-OFF.
So I boot back into CWM and flash a backup to get my phone working again. I still want KitKat, of course, so it's time to search for other things to try.
First off, I try flashing a stock aftermarket ROM, the one by bigxie. Now the phone boots, but it bootloops, rebooting about 5 seconds after the lock screen comes up. With a little reading and a few questions, I get that this is also because I don't have S-OFF. Mmm, okay. Recover from backup again.
I downloaded the stock GPE RUU, pulled the stock recovery from it, flashed that, and tried to use it to install the OTA update, figuring that it would be signed properly or whatever to flash the radio. Same result as CWM. Install CWM again, restore from backup again.
My options are starting to seem a little limited. It looks like I can either get S-OFF and try the OTA again, or flash the stock GPE RUU and go back to 100% stock. Except that the instructions I found for flashing a stock RUU say that I need S-OFF for that too, though I'm a little skeptical of this - wouldn't that be only for rewriting the Model ID and Cell ID to the GPE?
First, I decide to try getting S-OFF. I get rumrunner S-OFF set up and running (moonshine doesn't have a version for me, and revolutionary doesn't support bootloader 1.54), and it does it's thing for a while, only to tell me at the end:
unfortunately this isn't going to work out with your configuration. you have 2 options:
1.) flash an unsecure kernel that's compatible with your ROM and retry rumrunner (preferred and most reliable method).
2.) flash a different rom.
NOTE: No amount of messing around with su binaries and apk's is going to fix this issue for you!!!.
Better luck next time!!!!bye
So next, I try flashing the stock GPE RUU, according to the above instructions. The flash fails with the message:
FAILED (remote: 99 unknown fail)
Yes, I ran the flash command twice, same result both times.
I'm downloading that again, but I'm not really sure what to do here. I'm okay at this point with flashing the stock RUU and wiping everything, if it gets me back to hassle-free stock. Should I keep trying to get that working? Or is S-OFF really necessary for that, and I need to get that figured out first? Or maybe I should just throw the phone out a window at this point.