TWRP Almost Bricked My Phone

Yesterday I decided to test out LibreKrsnah Linux Mobile Alpha 0.1 on my phone.

The screen has been flickering on and off for a couple of years now. And I decided maybe it was time to try something new, something different.
Now I just remembered to check for any updates for TWRP and there was one.
I figured, why not install it first?

TWRP website download links weren’t working on the browser for some strange reason.
So I thought why not just pull the downloads manually?

Loaded the files on my phone and booted into Recovery mode.
Flashed the new TWRP image files and rebooted.
Then I saw the error: Could not do normal boot. Invalid kernel length.

Now I couldn’t even boot into the OS.
Pressing the power button only yielded the Samsung logo and the error message above.
My heart sunk.

I fired up Windows on my netbook and opened Odin, then connected my phone to it.
Odin showed one device added. Great!
Now I could just flash TWRP manually.
I looked up screenshots from a few years ago to check how to do that.

Then I disconnected my phone and connected again.
Aaaaand the device drivers failed.
Windows could not detect the phone anymore.
I rebooted and connected again. Nothing. Device manager listed unknown device on USB port.

So I installed the Samsung USB drivers from my old backup.
Still nothing.
My netbook could no longer detect my phone.

I tried different cables to see if it would connect, since the original cable is now worn out and held together with cellotape (lol).
Still nothing.
Was my device bricked? Did the phone’s port somehow get fried because the OS was borked?
All sorts of weird hypotheses were running through my head.

And then my internet connection stopped working.
Ain’t this a bitch!
Just when I needed it to search for a solution, no internet.

I turned off the router and went to nap.

Woke up an hour later and turned on the router.
The internet was back up.
Looked up the error online and most people seemed to have resolved the problem by flashing new recovery through Odin. Now if I could only get my netbook to detect the phone!

The problem in my case had been caused by incomplete TWRP files.
Both the img and tar files were around 7Kb.
But I didn’t check the file size because I thought everything was cool.
So TWRP’s broken download site was the root cause of my troubles. I’m surprised TWRP managed to flash the 7Kb files without checking the file size. Then again, I didn’t verify the SHA256 signature files. So it was partly my fault. But mostly TWRP’s fault!

I found a solution that worked for me.
I connected a similar phone to the netbook, let the drivers install, and opened Odin. The device was added.
Then I removed that phone and plugged in mine.
One device added!

I flashed TWRP from my backup and then installed different versions of LibreKrsnah Mobile to see if the screen flickering stopped on fresh installations. It didn’t.

So I installed the last version of LibreKrsnah Mobile then formatted the SD card as internal storage.
When I tried to root it, TWRP couldn’t read any .zip files.

Back to the internet to search for a solution.
I think the problem occurred because I formatted the SD card from TWRP before formatting it from the OS.
I formatted the SD card as portable storage.
TWRP could now read the .zip files.

I reflashed TWRP and reinstalled the OS, just to be safe. Then formatted the SD card as portable storage because it was too slow for internal storage anyway. Even though I’d used it as internal storage in my last working installation.

I checked TWRP site today and the downloads still do not work.
I’m lucky that I had backups for everything otherwise I’d be stuck here with a bricked device waiting for TWRP devs to fix their broken site and re-enable downloads.

Now I’m too scared to test LibreKrsnah Linux Mobile.
My netbook is already crappy. I can’t afford to brick my phone.