How to Root and Install a Custom ROM on Android1
You may have seen my previous post explaining what rooting and custom ROMs are, and wondered how to actually do it in your device. I don’t blame you, since doing it unlocks your device to it’s full potential and is one of the main advantages of Android to begin with. It allows you to have a open, updated device even long after your carrier or manufacturer stop supporting your phone, which is sort of important considering that most devices have capable hardware, but are abandoned all too soon. So, today I’ll tell you how to do it, using my Huawei U8800/Ideos X5 as an example, following this tutorial.
So, let me tell your right away, this is a process that is different for every device. Since Android has such a wide range of hardware configurations, manufacturers and internal firmwares, it’s rare to have a ultimate solution that works the same for everything. Fortunately, there are various communities that research and are dedicated to the purpose of liberating and opening pretty much every device out there. One of the largest is XDA, as their forums are extremely popular and most devices have a dedicated forum that probably has a tutorial on how to set up your device for rooting and replacing the stock ROM, with detailed and easy to understand instructions, and it’s the one I recommend. It’s unlikely you won’t find support for your device in there, but if that’s the case, you can give the MoDaCo or RootzWiki forums a try and see if you can find support in there. So, with these words of warning, here we go!
We will be using SuperOneClick for rooting, a popular all-in-one solution for rooting that works for a lot of devices and facilitates the process in a lot of ways. Still, before using it most devices require you to do a couple of steps first to make sure it’s ready and the process will work:
1) Use the dialer and dial “*#*#2846579#*#*”. This will open the internal “projectmenu” application used by the manufacturer, that will allow you to test and identify the hardware, and access internal statistics.
2) Navigate to “Background Settings”, then “Log Settings”. Pick “Log Switch”, and then enable log. Reboot the phone.
3) Go to “Settings”, then “Development” and enable USB Debugging.
With this all done, we can finally use SuperOneClick to gain root access. Download it and extract the contents somewhere in your computer. Then, plug the device into the computer, and don’t mount the SD card when the prompt appears. After that, run “SuperOneClick.exe” and press the “Root” button on the top right. You may be asked to install drivers, in which case you should accept. And that’s pretty much it. After the process is done, your phone is now rooted!
Installing a Custom ROM:
Now that your phone is rooted, you are finally able to replace your current ROM with another one that you’d prefer. However, the process requires you to do one more thing, in this case, replacing the stock recovery image. This is essential, because without a custom recovery image, you wouldn’t be able to install any ROM you’d like, and simply a ROM that your manufacturer or carrier would allow. The most popular recovery image for this purpose is “ClockworkMod”, which not only has a simple installation process, is also extremely powerful and full-featured, has backup and recovery options, patching support and even the option to mount USB from recovery. So, it’s the one we will be using. The installation process is very simple, and generally the same for most devices.
1) Go to “Settings”, then “Applications” and disable “Fast Boot”.
2) Download a version of Clockwork Recovery for your device. We will be using this one, but you should obviously search for one made specifically for your device.
3) Copy the “recovery.img” file you got from downloading ClockworkMod into your SD card (use a USB cable or Bluetooth to transfer the file) or other available memory partition.
4) Download and install Remount and ES File Explorer. Use Remount to mount the “.cust_backup/image” folder as “RW”. This will allow you to make write operations in that folder, which is necessary for the next step.
5) Open ES File Explorer and copy the “recovery.img” file from where you transferred it previously to the “.cust_backup/image” folder. If all went well, it will ask you to replace the existing file, agree to do so (make a backup copy of the existing file first, if you want to). And that’s pretty much it, you installed ClockworkMod in your device, and can now install custom ROMs! So, let’s give it a go!
6) Turn off your device. Power it back on by holding the Power/Unlock Button as usual, but this time hold “Volume +” (the top lateral rocker button that controls the volume) as well.
7) Keep holding, and you should eventually be greeted by the screen below. That means it all went well and your device is ready! Use the rocker to navigate between the options.
Now, in order to install a new ROM, the process is fairly simple. Just download the ROM you want to try, save it in your SD card or other available memory, and choose the “install zip from sdcard” option, and navigate to where you saved the file (it’s a .zip file). I would however recommend that you choose the “backup and restore” option first, and make a full backup of your data. That way, if something goes wrong, all you have to do is load ClockworkMod again and restore that backup, and your device will be restored to the state it was when you made the backup. A lot of ROMs may also have a specific install process, and various requirements. Most recommend a full wipe beforehand, and if that’s the case just choose the “wipe data/factory reset” option.
And that’s about it. From factory state to fully rooted and with ClockworkMod installed in about 10 minutes. As you can see, fairly easy, quick and well documented. There’s always some degree of risk, but as long as you read the instructions beforehand carefully and pay attention to what you’re doing, you’ll be fine. Even if you mess something up, chances are that you’re alright. And even if your device stopped booting or something like that, you’ll probably still be able to put it in Download Mode and get it back to fully operational state. I suppose that these days it’s a bit harder to brick your device, but nevertheless always use caution, and pay attention to what you’re doing. Make sure you have the right model and carrier. Make sure you have all the hardware and files required, and that they are not corrupted or damaged in any way. And above all, have fun with your brand new device!