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[17 Jul 2012 | | ]
[How-to] Improve N900 performance: Collection of tweaks

Want more performance and power for your N900 and give it a go at competing against today’s hardware? I’ve decided to put up a small collection of patches and tweaks that could greatly improve the performance of your N900 here.

Note: The guide assumes you know what you’re doing, as some of the tweaks might cause damage to your system, so use those at your own risk. Also, some of the packages to be installed require Extras-devel to be enabled, read on how to enable it here if you can’t find the package. Disable it right after you’ve done everything!

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[25 Jun 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Using you N900 as a WiFi Hotspot

Stuck with having no internet connection nearby, but 3G via your trusty N900?  Not a problem, you can turn your N900 into a moving WiFi hotspot, which will allow you to share your 3G (or maybe GPRS, if you’re really stuck) for the wireless devices to connect. In this post we’ll go through a few ways to do this.
Note: All following methods require you to have kernel-power installed. If you don’t have it, refer to this article in order to install a stable kernel. Do know, that kernel-power is targeted at power-users and if you’re not one, you’re advised to stay away from it’s configuration. Default configs are pretty sane and you shouldn’t experience problems. 
GUI Option: QtMobileHotspot

First option is the qtMobileHotspot application. Install the package with:
sudo gainroot; apt-get install qtmobilehotspot
from your X Terminal. Launch the app and you’ll be presented with a menu as on the screenshot above. Now all you have to do is to connect to the 3G/GPRS network and press Start. If you’re confident, you may wish to fiddle around with the settings by pressing the “Wifi…” button near the top. The default password to the hotspot is thirteen zeros (000000000000) and the SSID is N900 Hotspot.
Alternatively, try the paid Joikuspot app from the Ovi Market.
CLI Option: jebba’s Script
Now, an experienced user may go at me and tell that mobilehotspot also has a CLI interface. Well, the script written by jebba and 9000 is far more simple and consumes less power, allowing you to keep your hotspot active for a longer time! Here’s how you set it up:
If you don’t have iptables and wireless-tools, install them with
sudo gainroot; apt-get install iptables wireless-tools
Download this script to MyDocs, then go to your terminal and run these commands:
cd MyDocs
sudo gainroot
cp 52NuntpC.txt /usr/bin/hotspotstart
chmod +x /usr/bin/hotspotstart
After this, run the hotspot by typing in sudo gainroot; hotspotstart into your terminal or bind it to Queen BeeCon/Desktop Command Execution widgets. Again, note that the script must be run as root.
The default SSID is honeypot and the password is also thirteen zeros. You can change them by modifying the ESSID and PASSWORD values in the beginning of the script. Make …

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[5 Apr 2012 | | ]
[How-To] MMS on the N900 with fMMS

Using MMS? Or want to try? Well, unfortunately, N900 doesn’t support MMS out-of-the-box, but fMMS can help us with that! In this guide, I will show you how to setup fMMS on your N900.

First, get fMMS from the Extras repository with these commands:
sudo gainroot
apt-get install fmms
Now, for the settings! Run fMMS and go to the settings:

Once there, tap another Settings button. Now go to this page and carefully fill in all the information for your mobile carrier. Make sure to double-check all the settings after you did so, a typo in the AP name can cost you quite a lot (literally, your carrier might charge you heavily if you try to connect to a wrong AP).
Now, a little note, if the data on the wiki page says “Use Proxy: No”, you will have to take another few steps:
1. Tap the system Menu button, go to Settings -> Internet connections -> Connections -> MMS -> Edit
2. Tap Next -> Next -> Advanced
3. Uncheck the “Use proxy” checkbox and click Save.
If it says “Use Proxy: Yes”, ignore the above and continue.
Now to test all your settings, set the “Polite” Setting in the fMMS settings menu and (via the statusbar menu) connect to an internet connection called “MMS”. Open up MicroB and go to the MMSC URL you put in fMMS settings (don’t worry, unless your carrier is crazy and charges for receiving MMS, you won’t lose money). If everything is setup correctly, you should have a blank page. If you have something like “HTTP Response: 400″ or any text like that, then you’ve got something wrong, check all your settings again.

There, now fMMS is set up and you can send and receive MMS messages! If you have still have any troubles (after you’ve passed the testing), please see the Troubleshooting here.
Enjoy!

Guide requested by Steven Kierath, our reader. Have your own suggestions/requests/problems? Contact us on our Facebook page (you can find the link on the homepage) or send me an email.

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[4 Apr 2012 | | ]
[How-to] Play music from a remote machine

Just yesterday, I was on my way home. Usually, I listen to the music while out on the street, but my audio player wasn’t with me and it’s been a while since I have uploaded any fresh music into my N900. Luckily, I had all my music on my home PC (which was conveniently running) and with an N900, I sure can access and listen to it. Want to know how? I’ll show you in this guide.

This guide assumes the machine you’re connecting to runs a *nix system (GNU/Linux, BSD, MacOS). For getting SSH up with Windows, refer to this guide by Lifehacker.
First things first, you would want to have SSH running on your machine with the music. Make sure you start it and have the SSH port unlocked on the machine.
If you are unsure how to do that, see this guide for Ubuntu, which will work for most other GNU/Linux distros with minor changes, or refer to your system’s documentation.
Obviously, you also need OpenSSH on your N900, which you can get with
sudo gainroot
apt-get install openssh
if you don’t have it already. Now, let’s look at the methods you can use to start playing music from a remote machine on your N900.
You can use MPlayer + SSH. This is a faster, but a slightly inconvenient way, for which you need MPlayer on your N900.
If you don’t have it, get it with
sudo gainroot
apt-get install mplayer
Then, you can use this command:
ssh <user>@<remote-address> “cat <full-path-to-file>” | mplayer –
Where <user> is your username on the machine, <remote-address> is your machine’s IP address and <full-path-to-file> is the full path to the file you want to play.
The inconvenience of this is that you won’t be able to play many files at once and you’ll have to use the full path to the file.
A better method is sshfs. Again, if you don’t have sshfs, grab it with
sudo gainroot
apt-get install sshfs
Create a directory, which you’ll use (as root):
mkdir /home/user/Home-PC
Finally, mount your machine’s filesystem on that directory with sshfs:
sshfs <user>@<remote-address>: /home/user/Home-PC
There, you can now access the whole home directory of your home PC via /home/user/Home-PC and that means (besides other files) you can …

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[9 Mar 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Record call durations

Note: this how-to is aimed at advanced users. Messing something up may harm your device, everything is done at your own risk.
Want to keep record of all your call durations? Well, while the functionality is not included by default, there’s a hack that can help you out. All we need to do is to patch the SQL database.
Note: You don’t need to be root for following the guide.
Open up your X Terminal and cd into a folder we need:
cd /home/user/.rtcom-eventlogger
Make a backup of your original database file, just to be sure:
cp -a el-v1.db el-v1.db.backup
Download the patch (you’ll need wget, if you don’t have it, install it with sudo gainroot; apt-get install wget):
wget ‘http://talk.maemo.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=10495&amp;d=1275242093′ -O triggers.txt
Apply the patch:
sqlite3 -batch /home/user/.rtcom-eventlogger/el-v1.db < triggers.txt
Finally, install Extended Call Log from Extras:
sudo gainroot
apt-get install extcalllog 
You’re finished! Now the call durations will start recording. Please note that it will just start, so you’ll need to go through a couple of calls before you can see the durations.

Enjoy!

Thanks to kovach from TMO for the patch.

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[1 Mar 2012 | | ]
Using tablet mode to save energy

Often you wouldn’t even want any phone functionality from your N900, unless you are actually using it often. When you don’t want it, disabling every cellular function seems reasonable, as it will save you up a lot of battery life, but unfortunately, Nokia’s Flight Mode turns off any radio functionality, and that includes WiFi and other communications. But, luckily, there’s a savior for those who would want some connectivity with cellular functions temporary disabled ‒ Tablet Mode!
After getting a package from Extras, you will now have a flashy button in your powerkey menu, which, upon pressing will enable (or, obviously disabling, if you had it enabled already) the Tablet Mode, allowing you to use your N900 as a regular tablet with no phone functionality saving you up quite some battery life.

Surely a must-have on your N900, so install the package with
sudo gainroot
apt-get install cell-modem-ui
And enjoy the tablet mode!

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[28 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Making video screencasts on the N900

If you’ve been using the N900 for a while, perhaps you have been thinking on “how can I record my screen?”. Well, today we’ll show you how.
First of all, fetch a .deb package you will need for recording to your N900, put it anywhere.  You may, of course, use wget to ease the process:
wget http://sumoudou.org/n900/load-applet-ximagesrc_0.4.4-2_armel.deb
Next, install the package:
sudo gainroot
dpkg -i load-applet-ximagesrc*.deb
And install the missing dependencies:
apt-get -f install
There, now you have a little panel on your N900 that will allow you to record your screen (and make screenshots, if you’re not comfortable with Ctrl-Shift-P):

When you press the button that I showed above and exit the statusbar menu, recording will start and you can now make videos, like this one I made. When you press the button again recording will stop. And yes, it will also record sound from the microphone, however the audio input is rather sensitive and will capture screentapping sounds and keyboard, so you might want to mute the sound, like I did. You will find your video in your Videos folder (~/MyDocs/.videos). By pressing the camera button to the right you can take screenshots, tap it and press the camera button (on the top of your N900) to take a screenshot which will land in your images directory.
Enjoy your new screencasting experience!
 

Thanks to ShiroiKuma for putting up the package together.

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[24 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Using your desktop via N900 with PresenceVNC

Ever wanted to control your desktop computer right from your N900’s screen? This post will show you how to do that using PresenceVNC.
This guide is for *nix (GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, MacOS) users. Windows users can look up a guide on setting up VNC online and try the same, by connecting to their PC directly, however, without ssh this will be much less secure.
First of all, fetch PresenceVNC from your N900:
sudo gainroot
sudo apt-get install presencevnc
Get openssh too, if you don’t have it:
apt-get install openssh
Now, on your PC you’ll need to generate an SSH key (again, if you don’t have it yet):
ssh-keygen -t dsa
This will create a file ~/.ssh/id_dsa.pub
You will have to drop this file into the same directory from your PC to the N900, you can use file sharing sites, USB, ssh, whatever you want for that.
Verify that you have the SSH server running on your PC, try to SSH into it:
ssh <user>@<ip_address>
Repalce <user> with your username on the PC and <ip_address> with your PC’s IP address. If you don’t know it, use sites like this one. If your PC and the N900 are connected to the same network, you can usually try the local address, 192.168.1.33 or 192.168.1.34. It should ask you to verify the key (type ‘yes’) and your PC’s password. IF it doesn’t then it’s likely your 22nd port is closed, use tools like iptables or Firestarter to open it.
You will also need x11vnc to start the server, look it up in your distro’s repositories.
Once that is set up, open up your N900’s terminal and connect to your PC with the following command:

ssh -C -L 5900:localhost:5900 <user>@<ip_address>
And start the server (yes, right from your N900)
x11vnc -ncache 10 -display :0
Now, just open up PresenceVNC (don’t quit the terminal!) and connect to localhost:0 Watch in amazement as your PC is fully controlled through your N900.
On the screenshot below you can see IceCat opened on my ArchLinux desktop’s StumpWM:

Enjoy!

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[21 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Installing SHR on your N900

Note: This guide is aimed only at advanced users. Messing something up during the installation might break your device, so do not attempt anything, unless you are sure you can handle it.
With the “hackability” of the N900 there’s quite a lot of alternative mobile operating systems available for it. We already covered NITDroid and Mer, and today I’m going to direct you through the installation of another mobile system I find very promising, SHR.
SHR is a GNU/Linux based OS that is available for quite many devices, all of which can be found by surfing through the project’s wiki. Surely, for a mobile OS, it can perform phone calls, end SMS, use GPS all while being a well-working GNU/Linux system, just like Maemo is. So, onto installation.
You will require all these things:

A Nokia N900, updated to a latest PR (which is 1.3).
A MicroSD card with a large capacity (at least 4 gB).

Class and brand of the SD card plays a huge role here. A class 10 card is preferable. Cards are mostly “what-you-pay-is-what-you-get”, so the more expensive card is usually the better one.

U-Boot installed on your N900

Get U-boot from Extras-devel, if you don’t have it. Reboot the phone to verify installation, there should be a mention of U-Boot and usually a picture of Tux (a penguin) in a corner. Make sure to disable extras-devel after installing U-boot.

A PC with a cardreader.
An N900 Image of SHR

Get the image from here.
The guide assumes you’re using a *nix machine. Windows users can use a small GNU/Linux LiveCD for following the guide.
Now, slot your MicroSD card into your cardreader. You’ll want to repartition it.
If you don’t understand the repartition process via a commandline, you can use GParted or a similar partitioning manager.
Verify the name of the SD device with
sudo fdisk -l
It should look like /dev/sdX with X being a letter. Make sure it’s the correct device name by mounting it or otherwise checking.
If you have automounting enabled, unmount the card:
sudo umount <card_mount_point>
Run fdisk on the card:
fdisk /dev/sdX
Obviously, replace sdX with your actual device name. For testing purposes, just a single ext3 partition is okay:
Command (m for help): n
Command action
e extended
p primary partition (1-4)
p
Partition number (1-4): 1
First …

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[20 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Using rescue initrd on the N900

Note: this how-to is aimed at advanced users. Messing something up during the installation or usage may harm your device, everything is done at your own risk.
Being an ultimate hacker device, the N900 is often prone to getting software issues during your playful experiments. When that happens, don’t go strait to reflashing your device, it may still be rescued with a rescue initrd image provided by MeeGo! This how-to will show you how to install and use the initrd image for rescuing your N900.

The first part of the how-to assumes you’re using a *nix system (GNU/Linux, BSD, Solaris, MacOS) on your PC , information on Windows installation can be found below.
On your PC, open up the terminal. Make a new directory, where the image will be kept, and cd into it:
mkdir n900-rescue-initrd
cd n900-rescue-initrd
Now, get the rpm files for the image from the MeeGo repos:
wget http://repo.meego.com/MeeGo/releases/1.1/core/repos/armv7l/packages/armv7l/nokia-n900-rescue-initrd-0.1-2.157.armv7l.rpm
wget http://repo.meego.com/MeeGo/releases/1.1/core/repos/armv7l/packages/armv7l/kernel-n900-2.6.35.3-10.3.armv7l.rpm
Now, you’ll need to unpack the rpm packages using rpm2cpio. If you don’t have it, it should be available from your distribution’s repos. Else, you might try using a BASH or Perl versions, execute them the same way, as you would execute rmp2cpio.
rpm2cpio nokia-n900-*.rpm | cpio -vid ./boot/initrd*
rpm2cpio kernel-*n900-*.rpm | cpio -vid ./boot/vmlinuz*
Now you will have a directory named boot that will contain the files required.
Before you start the initrd charge your battery completely. The initrd doesn’t support charging and you want to be sure your phone won’t die when the initrd is in use.
To start the initrd, you’ll need to use the N900 flasher, please read this article, if you don’t understand what I mean. Note, we’re not reflashing the device, we’re just loading the image into the device’s memory on boot.
Shutdown the device by removing the battery and putting it back, then start the flasher in the same directory with
sudo flasher-3.5 -k boot/<vmlinuz-n900> -n boot/<initrd.img> -l -b”rootdelay=1 root=/dev/ram0″
Replace <vmlinuz-n900> and <initrd.img> with the actual file names.
After it is started, plug your N900 to your PC with a USB cord. Your device should now boot and you’ll get a menu with the following features:

Toggle USB networking on/off (N)
Reboot the device (R)
Shutdown the device …

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[9 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Installing Nemo Mobile (Mer) on the N900 with Windows

Interested in installing another OS on your N900? Well, then you might want to try Mer, a libre operating system based on MeeGo. This guide will teach you how to install it using a Windows system. If you’re a *nix (GNU/Linux; BSD; MacOS) user, refer to this post.
First of all all, you’d want to have all these things:

A Nokia N900, updated to a latest PR (which is 1.3).

If you have an N900, it’s highly unlikely you’ve got an outdated firmware. However, if you do (check it in About Product), please refer to this article.

A MicroSD card with a capacity of at least 4GiB.

Class and brand of the SD card plays a huge role here. A class 10 card is preferable. Cards are mostly “what-you-pay-is-what-you-get”, so the more expensive card is usually the better one. Do read the benchmark test for the card, you’d want the one that has a high random read/write.

U-Boot installed on the N900

Get U-boot from Extras-devel, if you don’t have it. Reboot the phone to verify installation, there should be a mention of U-Boot and usually a picture of Tux (a penguin) in a corner. Make sure to disable extras-devel after installing U-boot.

A Windows PC with a cardreader.
And an image for Nemo Mobile

Get an appropriate image here. Latest release have been proven to have a bug when installing on an SD card, so look for an older release.
Once you have all that, onto installation!
First, you need something to open a bz2 file for you and unpack the image. If you don’t have anything, try BZip2 for Windows:

Get the release without sources from the link above.
Install BZip2
Put the bz2 file into a directory, where you installed BZip2
Press Win + R to open up Run, type in “cmd” in the input box.
Change directory (cd) to the one, where you have bzip2 and the image file. For example, if the directory is C:\Programs\Bzip2\, type in “cd c:\Programs\Bz2″
Type in “bzip2.exe <name_of_the_image_file>.bz2″

Obviously, replace <name_of_the_image_file>.bz2 with an actual image name.
After you unpacked the image, you’ll want to rename it from <image>.raw to <image>.img. Do so.
Now get an image writer for Windows here (get the latest release and unpack the zip file into any …

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[8 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Installing Nemo Mobile (Mer) on the N900 with *nix

Interested in installing another OS on your N900? Well, then you might want to try Mer, a libre operating system based on MeeGo. This guide will teach you how to install it using a *nix (GNU/Linux; BSD; and, technically, MacOS) system. If you’re a Windows user, refer to this post.
First of all all, you’d want to have all these things:

A Nokia N900, updated to a latest PR (which is 1.3).

If you have an N900, it’s highly unlikely you’ve got an outdated firmware. However, if you do (check it in About Product), please refer to this article.

A MicroSD card with a capacity of at least 4GiB.

Class and brand of the SD card plays a huge role here. A class 10 card is preferable. Cards are mostly “what-you-pay-is-what-you-get”, so the more expensive card is usually the better one. Do read the benchmark test for the card, you’d want the one that has a high random read/write.

U-Boot installed on the N900

Get U-boot from Extras-devel, if you don’t have it. Reboot the phone to verify installation, there should be a mention of U-Boot and usually a picture of Tux (a penguin) in a corner. Make sure to disable extras-devel after installing U-boot.

A *nix PC with a cardreader.
And an image for Nemo Mobile

Get an appropriate image here. Latest release have been proven to have a bug when installing on an SD card, so look for an older release.
Once you have all that, onto installation!
Slot in your MicroSD card into a cardreader. Find out the name of the card device with
sudo fdisk -l
If you have automounting enabled, you’ll want to unmount the card:
sudo umount /dev/<name_of_the_card_partition>
Replace <name_of_the_card_partition> with an actual name of your card’s partition. Usually it’s something like “/dev/sdx1″
Now, write an image to a device with dd:
sudo dd bs=4096 if=<full_path_to_the_image> of=/dev/<name_of_the_card_device>
NOTE: the <name_of_the_card_device> is an actual device, not a partition. So, if your partition was named /dev/sdx1, you’ll want to use /dev/sdx as <name_of_the_card_device>
Replace <full_path_to_the_image> with a (duh) full path to your Nemo Mobile image you downloaded, unpacked from the bz2 file.
If your card doesn’t have sufficient space, use this command instead. Replace <full_path_to_the_image> with the name of the …

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[7 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-to] SIP Calls on the N900

Interested in video calling from your N900? You probably know about Skype, but there are better alternatives available, like SIP.
SIP, or Session Initiation Protocol, is a signalling protocol, which is used mostly for controlling video and audio calls. And Maemo has a good native support for it! Let’s see how to setup an SIP account on your N900.
Before everything else, you’d want to get yourself an SIP account. There are literally hundreds of providers, so find one that suits you, just look them up in a search engine, like Google.
After you get one, you’ll want to go to your account settings. If you already have defined an account for other services, you can access the menu by pressing the “Availability” button on your notification menu. If not, you can find it under “Settings->VoIP and IM Accounts”. Add a new account, choose SIP as service. You’ll see a similar box to popup:

Now, just input your SIP address and password. Take Advanced Settings into account, most providers will require you to put in an outbound proxy and define a username. Refer to instructions on your provider’s website on whether you should put them there. Save everything and enable the account, login by switching the status to ‘Available”. Now, you’re ready to call SIP addresses and make regular calls via SIP, just select your SIP account as a call type in your Phone app. Video calling is available too, just find a contact you wish to call, select it and choose to videocall.

SIP is a very good (and much more open) alternative to Skype, so why not use it?
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Thanks to our reader, Steven O’ Dochartaigh, who asked us to do this how-to. Have your own suggestions? Put them up in the comments, or on our forum, and we’ll be sure to give them a look!

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[3 Feb 2012 | | ]
[How-To] Save up battery by taking down WiFi

If you’re interested in saving up battery, here’s a little how-to on adding a desktop-cmd-exec button that will enable/disable WiFi completely upon being pressed.
First, get desktop command execution widget, if you don’t have it already:
sudo gainroot
apt-get install desktop-cmd-exec
Next you would want to get an enable/disable script. For your convenience, I’ve uploaded it to Pastebin: http://pastebin.com/3ZHx11GZ
Copy the script and save it as wifi.sh in your home directory. Make it executable:
chmod +x wifi.sh
Now, to add the button. Switch to a desktop where you wish to place it, go to edit mode (long tap on the screen or tap on an empty space and tap the gear button that appears on top). Add Desktop Command Execution Widget from the menu, and click the wrench on the widget that appeared. Select the “Add cmd” option on the right. Name the command “Enable/Disable WiFi” or however you’d like, in command put this:
echo “/home/user/wifi.sh” | sudo gainroot | echo “”
Add the command, you’ll be kicked back to the edit mode, so press the wrench again. You’ll see that the new command was already chosen (if it is not, chose it), so you need just to adjust a few options, check the “Update on click” option and uncheck “Update on boot” and “Update on desktop change” buttons. Ta-da! Now you have a button to completely disable the WiFi when you don’t need it and enable it on need, which will save up quite some battery charge.

____________________________________________________
Of course, you can utilize the script otherwise, like adding an Alarmed job to disable/enable wifi on certain times.

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[31 Jan 2012 | | ]
[How-to] Customizing the “Swipe-to-unlock” screen

Check out our new page Funny LOL Pictures (click here) – it brings you daily funny pictures that will make you LOL!
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Note: the steps we go through this how-to include modifying low-level system files and imply that the readers know what they are doing. If you can’t understand some bits or think you might break something, you might want not to try this hack.
Interested in further customization of your N900? Then let’s take a look at how to change that “Swipe to unlock” screen that appears when you press the powerkey with screen locked.
The files we’re interested in are located under two directories:
 /usr/share/themes/alpha/backgrounds/
and
/usr/share/themes/alpha/images/
Now, the files are lockslider.png, which is a background image located in the first directory mentioned; LockSliderTop/Bottom/Left/Right.png, which are the backgounds for the slider itself and are located in the second directory mentioned; and, finally, LockSliderThumb.png and LockSliderPortrait.png, which are the images for the slider button in landscape and portrait mode. These are also in the second directory mentioned.
You know the file names now, so you’d want to get creative and make substitutes for those originals! Back them up, if you need it.
Use the original files as a base, you need to be sure the image sizes match. That is, lockslider.png needs to be 800×480, other files need to be the same size as their originals. Check out this custom set for further example.
As soon as you finished creating your files, drop them all to their respective directories and reboot your phone.
  cp -f lockslider.png  /usr/share/themes/alpha/backgrounds/
cp -f LockSlider*.png /usr/share/themes/alpha/images/
sudo gainroot
reboot
Enjoy your new custom Swipe-to-unlock screen!