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Rooting / Flashing the Droid

I have just updated my Motorola Droid documentation available here: https://sflanders.net/handheld/motorola-droid. The biggest addition is information about rooting and flashing the Motorola Droid. Since I think this information will be valuable to others, I am including it in a blog post as well.
DISCLAIMER: Please be advised that rooting your phone WILL VOID THE WARRENTY! I am in no way responsible for what you do to your phone, but you should know you can permanently damage it so please proceed with caution. In addition, I can in no way take credit for this process, but I figured this article would be helpful as I found some of the directions online confusing.
WARNING: It is important to understand the difference between rooting your phone and flashing your phone. Rooting your phone gives you the highest permissions available on the system. For Linux this is equivalent to having root and for Windows it is equivalent of being Administrator. Rooting your phone does not remove any data from your phone. Flashing, on the other hand, changes the operating system the phone is using. In order to flash your phone you must root your phone first. Flashing almost always requires wiping all data off of your phone, but not the SD card. Once your phone has been flashed, it will lose all applications and information stored on it that was not saved on the SD card. One additional thing I would like to add is that flashing your phone takes quite a bit of time. For me, it took about three hours to back up, root, flash, install, and configure my phone, so plan accordingly.
I followed the instructions available at: http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/index.php/Full_Update_Guide_-_Droid_Firmware_to_CyanogenMod and flashed my phone with assistance from my Windows XP laptop. The basic steps are as follows:

  1. Back up all data except contacts (assuming you have synced them with Google) and /sdcard on your phone
  2. Install Android SDK and USBDeview
  3. Install SPrecovery
  4. Take a full backup of the existing ROM on your phone (optional, but highly recommended)
  5. Copy backup off of the phone (optional)
  6. Root your phone
  7. Take a full backup of the rooted ROM on your phone (optional, but highly recommended)
  8. Install ROM Manager
  9. Flash your phone
  10. Take a full backup of the new ROM on your phone (optional)
  11. Install and configure new ROM


After backing up the data on your phone, the above link directs you to http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/index.php/Install_the_Latest_Android_sdk where step 2 can be completed. On this site, all the directions worked for me up to the “Download USBDeview”. The steps laid out on the site for this part are:

  1. Download USBDeview
  2. While the phone is still plugged in, open USBDeview and sort by manufacturer. Find all the HTC/Android drivers and uninstall them all. (Windows Vista requires program to be run as an administrator, otherwise files won’t uninstall.)
  3. Once all have been uninstalled, unplug the phone from the USB cable and plug it back in.
  4. The correct drivers should reinstall automatically (check the drivers as they are installing, one should say ADB Device driver).
  5. To check, go to Devices in your Start menu then click on the Android Phone. Click on the Hardware tab, and check the list of drivers for ADB Interface under Type.
  6. Done! Now you can use ADB to alter your phone from your computer.

I found for number 2 that there were no HTC/Android drivers to uninstall. In addition, after performing number 3, number 4 did not occur. For some reason in my case the ADB Device driver was already installed. To verify this, number 5 exists, however I feel it is not well written. For Windows, what it is really asking you to do is to go to the Device Manager on your Windows system, which is available under Control Panel – System – Hardware – Device Manager, and check for ADB under the computer name. Please be advised, ADB is only shown when the Droid is connected to your computer.
Steps 3 through 6 can be completed using the following link: http://forum.droidmod.org/index.php?PHPSESSID=e9442104101c0b3860e1364a44187dfe&/topic,1004.0.html. On this site, I found some differences from the directions supplied for RSDlite. Specifically, where it said:

Your phone will reboot at about the 26% spot in the progression (this is normal for THIS .sbf)
once your phone reboots you are done and you can close RSDlite even though it will warn you that you could ruin your phone.

In my case, the phone rebooted well before 26%. Since it had not reached 26%, I decided not to close RSDlite as I was not sure that was the thing to do. One thing I noticed is that the progress bar continued even when the phone was rebooting and could not communicate with RSDlite. It appears that whenever the phone reboots, it is okay to close RSDlite.
After backing up the phone, but before rooting it I think directions should be added suggesting that you copy the backup files off of the phone even though they are on the SD card. As such, I added step 7. The backup files can be found under /sdcard/nandroid. Next, complete steps 6 through 8 using the original installation link above. Optionally, I have added step 9, which technically is not necessary as the ROM can be re-downloaded, but can save some time depending on the reasons for flashing the phone. Last, but certainly not least, you need to reinstall any applications and configure your device as desired. In addition, you may want to download so new programs that are only available on rooted phones such as:

  • drocap2
  • MetaMorph
  • OpenVPN Settings
  • Quick Boot
  • SetCPU (not free)
  • Titanium Backup
  • VPN Connections
  • Wireless Tether

© 2010, Steve Flanders. All rights reserved.

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