Android Rooting and Modding: It Hurts So Good

Don’t do it. Seriously, don’t even think about it.

If you’ve listened to episode 95 of Pop Tech Jam you know all about the trouble I’ve had trying to unroot my Samsung Galaxy S4 smartphone and revive my Nexus 7 tablet (Mark 1).

I successfully rooted my Galaxy S4 not long after first getting it but recently realized I no longer needed root access. I could get the same functionality by throwing a few bucks at the problem.

No more tedious and extremely complicated manual updates. No more buggy customized ROMS and strange boot behavior.

If I could just get the darned phone back to factory new my life would be chock-full of unicorns and rainbows. It might even rain Skittles and fun-sized Krackel bars.

I’ll live with the bloatware—for now—until I can put together enough scratch for a Google Play Edition device or a Nexus phone.

The Nexus tablet had also been rooted many moons ago and I was running a CyanogenMod customized ROM that I liked very, very much. It worked fantastically well…until it didn’t.

The tablet sat idle for a few weeks and when I started it up it was bricked. Desperate to find a way to get it working, I started slogging through the seemingly endless amounts of bad information available on the Interwebz.

Most of what I found didn’t help and occasionally made the problem worse.

I’d spent weeks working on finding solutions but in an unprecedented wave of luck on a gorgeous Sunday in early June I was able to unroot the Galaxy phone and go full Lazarus on the Nexus tablet.

(Yes, I awkwardly pumped my fist a few times but don’t you dare judge me.)

The Unified Android Toolkit from a British outfit called SkipSoft looked to be a promising solution for both problems but it was only able to get the Nexus back in business.

For the Galaxy S4 I was forced to resort to more drastic measures. I tracked down a stock firmware image of the Android JellyBean that would work on the phone then used a ROM flashing tool called Odin to install it.

After what seemed like hours the Galaxy S4 was once again factory new, unrooted and happily installing over-the-air updates that has the phone humming along with the Kit Kat version of Google’s Android OS.

If you plan on ignoring my warnings about staying away from Android rooting and modding just PLEASE do your homework before attempting any type of customization.

Your warranty is void as soon as you start mucking around and if you permanently brick the device you’ll have to pony up for a brand new phone.

As I mentioned on the show the XDA Developers forum and Wiki has invaluable information if you decide to dive into the not so fun and incredibly stressful world of Android phone customization.  There’s also helpful stuff at the Phandroid site and forum.

The Wiki section of the CyanogenMod site and the forum has useful data, plus you can grab one of their fancy-schmancy “customized, aftermarket firmware distributions” while you are derping around.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I stumbled across a few blog posts that claim you can mod an old Nook tablet and have it run a full version of Android.

Looking forward to not heeding my own advice…

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