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Rooting your Android device: A guide for the accident-prone

Jon Gold | Jan. 29, 2015
Here’s how a tech-savvy but careless nerd roots an Android device.

TeamWin Recovery Project, or TWRP for short, is also highly regarded, though I haven't tried it.

New ROM!
ROM Manager includes an in-app browser for custom ROMs (software packages) that it can automatically download, but I find that the selection is dated and limited. Fortunately, it's easy to find good alternatives to vanilla Android by yourself. Some popular choices:

  • CyanogenMod is far and away the biggest player, and it even comes with its own custom rooting and installation method, simpler even than the one presented here, and it supports a huge range of hardware. There are main-line and development branches available for many devices, and the latter are starting to feature Android 5.0 Lollipop as a base.
  • Paranoid Android has been around forever, offering a polished user experience, easy and broad customization, and a highly professional look. Device support is less broad than Cyanogen, but still reasonably good, particularly if you've got a Nexus or Oppo handset.
  • MIUI (pronounced "Me-you-eye") is another long-time favorite, boasting a unique UI and the backing of Chinese electronics giant Xiaomi.
  • SlimROM, which offers a stripped-down, simple feel for Nexus devices and some of the more recent offerings from Samsung, HTC, Sony and LG.

Other ROMs are available just make sure you're downloading what you think you're downloading, and stick to well-known options until you've got some experience under your belt.

Google Apps
You might think you're ready to install, but, sad to say, you're not quite there yet. Here's what will happen if you install your cool new ROM right now everything will boot up nicely, you'll get the excitement of a new operating system, and then you'll be very frustrated because your new ROM doesn't include Google's proprietary apps.

And since the Play Store app is part of the package, you won't be able to just go download all the stuff you want as usual.

Instead, before you install, you want to go find a .zip file with the Google Apps package designed for the Android version on which your ROM is based, and install that along with the ROM. There's a very handy guide, along with links to the packages you'll need on (Thanks, DroidViews people!)

To install, simply download the ROM designed for your specific hardware onto your phone (it's really important to get the right version!), select "install ROM from SD card" in ROM Manager, and make sure both the backup and the "wipe data and cache" options are selected. Then hit "add zip" and select the Google Apps package.

Now you're ready to install.

A couple caveats
First, any specific instructions that come with any component you're installing here, whether it's a rooting method or a ROM or a recovery image, take precedence over what you've read here. This is what worked for me, your mileage may vary for a vast range of different reasons.


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