Aug 302013
 

UPDATE: I no longer have a Droid X, so I cannot provide any further live advice. It’s a great phone and I was delighted to own one; I have since upgraded to a Galaxy S4, which is also a great phone. I can’t answer any questions about “What happens when <x>?” and so on that aren’t already covered by the steps below. If you encounter errors, ensure that your initial conditions are identical to what I outline below, and that you followed all of the steps exactly.

This is as much a reference touchstone for me as it is meant to serve for anyone else trying to do this. The information is out there, but the collective community of folks working on this stuff have made it nigh-impenetrable. Hopefully, this little guide will cut through a lot of that.

This information pertains, specifically, to a Motorola Droid X on Verizon Wireless’s network running (initially) Android 2.3.4 with System version 4.5.621.*.

 The word circulating that rooting this phone isn’t doable, or installing new ROMs isn’t possible, is completely false. What is not false is that the phone has a locked bootloader, meaning you can’t just throw any old bootloader on it you please.

  1. The very first thing you need to do is get ahold of and install Framaroot, which is the key piece of software that actually roots the phone.1 (The link is to version 1.6 and works as of this writing. If it doesn’t, click the superscript to get to the actual development thread and download the latest version.)
    1. To do this, just download the APK and save it somewhere on your phone (your Downloads folder, for example). You can either download it directly on your phone by going to the above link in your phone’s browser, or download it to your computer and then transfer it via USB.
    2. Next, enable installation of apps from untrusted sources. Home Screen > Options button > Applications > Unknown sources
    3. Finally, navigate to the place you saved the APK in your File browser and click on it. If prompted, choose Package Manager to install.
    4. You should now be able to run Framaroot. Do so.
    5. When you run Framaroot, you only have a few options. Superuser and SuperSU are two flavors of the same thing: they let you run applications and commands as root. Some people prefer one over the other, but I haven’t noticed a difference yet. Pick whichever you prefer.
    6. There should be one or more “exploits” listed that will allow you to gain root access. Pick whichever you please (Gimli was listed first for me, so that’s what I went with).
    7. Reboot the phone once it finishes.
    8. Go to the app store and download Root Checker Basic.
    9. Run Root Checker Basic and click the Verify Root Access button.
    10. When an app wants root access, you’ll get a prompt that asks for permission. This will (probably) happen now.
      • Usually, it’s fine to say yes if you know what the app is and expect it to need root access. If you ever get prompted by an app and don’t know why it might be prompting, say no!
    11. If all has gone according to plan, you’ll get a green message saying that your root access has been verified.
  2. Having done that, you can now go out and download a bunch of other nifty things.2
    • ROM Manager is a nifty little thing for managing various ROMs. It comes bundled with Clockwork Mod Recovery (CWM), but you won’t be using this particular bundled version for this process. However, you’ll want to use it to Fix Permissions (see below), so grab it all the same.
    • BusyBox remaps a bunch of internal system commands to more common names. If you’re familiar with Linux at all, these commands will all be familiar to you (ls, awk, cat, grep, etc.). This’ll be useful later. You should run this once and get everything set up. The Basic Install (a step that happens once you run the app) should be fine.
    • Titanium Backup is the real king, though. This program allows you to make backups of every app on the phone and uninstall any app on the phone!
      • You should go to the Options > Batch actions... > Backup all user apps and make a backup of everything, then uninstall anything you don’t want (I’m looking at you, V Cast, Verizon App store, stupid NFL game I never played, and so on).
    • SMS Backup+ backs up all your text messages and call log to GMail. This is somewhat optional, and you may have misgivings about storing all of this with GMail given some of the recent NSA garbage, but that’s all up to you. This takes a while, so hook your power cord in and let it run.
  3. As another precaution, I’d also recommend just flat-out copying all of your phone’s content onto your desktop when it’s mounted as a USB Mass Storage device.
  4. Export your Contacts to create a backup of that, too.
    1. Open up your contacts.
    2. Click the Options button
    3. Choose Import/Export
    4. Select Export to SD Card
  5. The next trick is to get around the locked bootloader. You can’t actually do this; instead, you need to use a “bootstrapper.” For a while, this wasn’t available for Droid X folks that had received the final Verizon update push, but that seems to have changed.
    • Grab the necessary APK from here.3
    • Install the bootstrapper APK the same way you installed the Framaroot APK.
    • Once installed, click the first option Bootstrap Recovery
  6. Download Pooka’s revision of CyanogenMod 7, the last version that works on Droid X. (CyanogenMod is up to version 10.2 now, but the DX won’t support it.)
  7. Also download GAAPS for CyanogenMod 7.1+.
  8. Stuff the zip files somewhere on your SD card’s root directory however you prefer to do so (USB, direct download, etc.).
  9. Open up ROM Manager and run Fix Permissions to ensure everything is readable/writable/etc. as expected.
  10. Take a deep breath.
  11. Run the Droid X Bootstrapper and click Run Recovery.
  12. If all goes well, this will reboot your device into ClockworkMod Recovery.
    • You can navigate with the volume buttons. The camera button selects and the power button goes back.
  13. Select backup and restore.
  14. Select backup. This will take some time.
  15. Select wipe data/factory reset.
  16. Go back to the first screen and select install zip from sdcard.
  17. Select choose zip from sdcard.
  18. Navigate to the place where you put the CyanogenMod zip file and select it.
  19. Scroll down to confirm the selection.
  20. Wait.
  21. If all goes well, you should see install from sdcard complete.
  22. Repeat steps 16-21 for GAAPS.
  23. Go back to the main screen.
  24. Select reboot system now.
  25. Cross your fingers.

If everything worked, you’ll boot into CyanogenMod 7! Go grab Titanium Backup from the Market again and use it to restore any apps you want. Restore your contacts using the same method you used to export them earlier.

Enjoy!

  1. Framaroot development thread []
  2. XDA thread on what to do post-root []
  3. RootzWiki thread where this bootstrapper was released []
Jan 032011
 

I saw a lot of people glad to be done with 2010. The general feeling seems to have been that 2010 was a less-than-satisfactory year. For my part, I’m inclined to disagree: in March, I got a new job at an awesome company working with awesome people on an awesome project; in July, my groomsmen took me to Atlantic City; in August, I got married and then went on my very first cruise; in October, Cody and I went as a very convincing Rose and the 10th Doctor for Halloween; in November, my parents finally came down to Maryland for Thanksgiving; December featured one of our best New Year’s Eve parties ever.

So, y’know, go 2010. May 2011 be as good or better.

To that end as is custom this time of year, I have a list of goals that I’m planning to work toward this year. They’re not “resolutions” and they’re not carved in stone; either notion is folly. But they’re things I care about and want to get better at, which I think carries more weight.

  • Devote some time each evening to writing or playing guitar. The main thing here is taking care of my “daily chores” in WoW, and then setting it aside while I spend some time doing either of the above activities. Once I’ve put some good effort in toward either, I’ll allow myself to go back to playing more WoW. I love my WoW hobby, but I can’t continue neglecting my others!
  • Get better about watching my diet again. I’ve slipped a bit since the wedding, which is probably entirely unsurprising to anyone who’s gotten married. I haven’t backslid irrevocably or anything drastic, but it’s noticeable enough to me that I want to do something about it. So, I plan to. Having a Droid will, I hope, make keeping track of my food intake a little easier.
  • Finish unpacking the house. This includes getting some additional furniture (bookshelves) and also tidying up the pantry shelves so that we can actually start making use of the damn thing.
  • Build the vacuform machine I’m always talking about. I intend to for Halloween to be very interesting this year.

That seems like an ambitious-enough list to start with.

Stormtrooper Accuracy

 Posted by at 00:26  No Responses »
Oct 152010
 

It’s time for a good, old-fashioned nerd rant!

Stormtroopers get a lot of shit. It’s become a fairly widespread public perception that they’re a laughably incompetent bunch for a supposedly indomitable galaxy-spanning military. They can’t shoot straight, which makes the line “Only Imperial Stormtroopers are so precise” comical. A legion of the Emperor’s best troops get taken out by teddy bears. Obviously, the Rebels were destined to win.

Except all of those things are wrong.
Continue reading »

Jul 152010
 

Today marks the release of the Droid X, the latest and greatest Droid phone carried by Verizon. It’s a Motorola product, as was the original Droid (but not the Droid Incredible, which was created by HTC). Since my two year Verizon contract expired at some point in June, and Cody and I want to get on the same phone plan, it seemed like a great confluence of events — we’d renew a contract with both of us on it and get a pair of Droid X’s in the process.

Then I wake up to see a Slashdot post in my RSS feed that links to an article mentioning that the Droid X has what amounts to a “fuse” in it that will “blow” if you attempt to alter the base operating system.

If the eFuse failes to verify this information then the eFuse receives a command to “blow the fuse” or “trip the fuse”. This results in the booting process becoming corrupted and resulting in a permanent bricking of the Phone. This FailSafe is activated anytime the bootloader is tampered with or any of the above three parts of the phone has been tampered with.

There are two obvious reactions to that: “Those bastards!” and “Wait, what?” A little detail for those who may not recognize what that’s saying. At some point, Motorola’s going to stop supporting software updates for the phone. So what happens, after that point, if you want to get the latest Android update? If you’re the basic user, you’re out of luck. If you’re tech savvy, though, you modify (hack, mod, root, etc.) the phone so that you can download and install the latest update. What this is saying is that if you try to do that, your phone will lockdown and simply fail to work.

In essence, Motorola has placed a “bomb” in your device, the device that you own, that will cause irreparable1 harm to the device if you use it in way they don’t approve of. This is different than locking down software, which is bound by EULAs and so forth. When you buy hardware, you own the hardware. Period. If someone messes with your hardware, that’s a crime. Cue the class action lawsuit.

However, this may actually be bullshit. Here’s a later comment from the Slashdot article:

It’s not even clear if this information is real. TFA [mobilecrunch.com] links to a forum post [mydroidworld.com] which doesn’t seem to actually contain a source of the information (the OP states it’s a mix of “hard information” and “conjecture”). Said forum post then links to the eFUSE wikipedia [wikipedia.org] article, which lists Droid X as having an implementation of eFUSE. However, if you look at the Droid X wikipedia page linked to from there, you’ll see the original mobilecrunch.com is what is cited for the eFUSE inclusion bit.

People love a good conspiracy and reading malice into any large company, so this particular fact has been mostly overlooked. In a few days, more information will probably be available, either confirming or refuting the allegations. But even if the allegations are true, there’s hope:

eFuse is an IBM brain child, and they have it in several of their RISC products. The XBox 360 has one in its xenon (ibm power pc) processor. The Texas Instruments OMAP processors that motorola chose for their droid x are using the eFuse technology. The statement that it is not reversible via software is bull, once you figure it out, you can set up a JTag interface (as any serious modder will do anyway) and then you can reverse the eFuse bits and try your mod again.

All the same, Cody and I are going to give the Droid X a few days to accumulate reviews before we decide whether or not to buy. The reality is that neither of us is likely to mod our phone, and by the time the phone reaches its EOL2, we’ll almost certainly be ready for new hardware anyway.

  1. Irreparable by you, anyway. []
  2. End Of Life; when a developer stops officially supporting something []