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.


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

  12 Responses to “Rooting My Droid X and Installing CyanogenMod”

  1. This worked a charm. Perfect-Thanks!

  2. Thank you for this! It worked as written. The one thing I’d add is at Step 15: make sure you select YES after goign to Wipe Data / Factory Reset. I missed this and ended up in a CM7 boot loop until I did it. Also, my phone didn’t accept the GAAPS option with Google Talk with Video Chat. I’m now restoring my phone settings and all is going well. 🙂

  3. Thank you so much for this! It worked amazingly well and took a lot of the guesswork out of the process!
    For others who may be following these instructions, it is very important to use Pooka’s revision, not just stable Cyanogenmod 7 (oops). And also to have nice clean downloads of everything–I had to redo a couple of the files to get things to work, which was mildly alarming. Somewhere around steps 8 or 9 I got the order got muddled, but it all worked out ok.
    A few more tips: When setting things up, I found that doing a lot of reboots got everything working properly (i.e Android Market updated to Google Play, etc). To make the clock show in the status bar, play with the clock color setting–I think it was black on black to begin with. If you want a fresh install of just your favorite apps, first install the app from the store, and then you can use Titanium Backup to restore just the app data (I got Soundhound and Alchemy right back to where I was before!). I hope these help the next person!

  4. Worked brilliantly! Thank you for posting this!

  5. Nice guide. Easy to follow and works fine. But are there updates since the post? I see the CM site points to a version 7.2….various people posting about CM9 for Droid X…and now theres a CM11. So, whats the latest and greatest?

  6. I’ve spent too much of my weekend trying to get this done and now finding your info, following it… I’ve got the whole task done in 30 minutes. Thanks so much for such a clear description, links and your time. It worked perfectly.

  7. Thank you so much for the detailed steps. The first time I tried to install CM, I bricked my phone and had to SBF. Then I followed your steps exactly and it went smooth. The only suggestion I have is to change step 11 to “Reboot Recovery” as I could not find “Run Recovery” in the Droid X Bootstrapper. Rest of the instructions are pretty clear and thanks once again for documenting this.

  8. Seems to work well except I’m stuck in a CM7 bootloop. How do I boot into the bootloader? Thank you for the detailed instructions

  9. Great tutorial and greatly appreciated!
    Your dead on when you say ” the collective community of folks working on this stuff have made it nigh-impenetrable” The info on many of the web sites seems to be written ‘by geeks’ ‘for geeks’. Most download packages and instructions are difficult to comprehend for the average user. This is step by step, straight forward. Had my rooted phone working within an hour. (yes I’m a slow reader and had to sideload apps to my non-working droid x) but now IT WORKS!

    Thanks again!

  10. thank you for the information i was able to root my phone with no problems. Thank you

  11. Thanks so much for posting the tutorial in such detail, and THANK YOU for insisting on making a system backup before wiping the phone! I ran into a minor hiccup during the install — the version of Cyanogenmod I downloaded didn’t check out, but I didn’t realize it until after the factory reset. I restored from the backup in Step 14, re-downloaded, and now I’m happily running CM7. Thanks again.

  12. Your link to Pooka’s Cyanogen is busted. It downloads as an .exe file, and won’t work.


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