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So even if I bookmarked a thread to have a look at the CyanogenMod install on my phone last year, I didn’t have a look at that till yesterday. The final motivation was that I thought that CM 9.1 (not containing any Samsung code) will not be vulnerable wrt. the issue reported 2 days ago. Later turned out that installing this app is enough, even if you stick to the older firmware supplied by Samsung, but once CM was installed, I haven’t looked back.
The install guide was easy to follow, it seems that newer Samsung devices have download mode enabled by default, so you need no cracking, the ClockworkMod Recovery and then CyanogenMod can be installed without any problems. Probably the only nontrivial part is that you do want Google Apps, even if you disable most of that stuff later, as the Play Store is part of that collection as well. As the guide suggests, I made a full backup, then after the install I restored the important part of my settings.
For the reference, here is how my home screen looked before and after the reinstall: