The Joy Of Using Experimental Software
One of the main reasons behind me rooting all of my devices and playing with custom ROM’s is that I enjoy being a part of projects that are in development or experimentation. Anyone can use a ‘perfect’ ROM from the device’s manufacturer, but I enjoy running Android builds that other people have gone to the trouble of making for us all. Manufacturers never get this right when it comes to development, they’re under the illusion that we like what they give us. Whilst this is partially true, we end up discovering we want more features, and we know exactly what these features are. Across forums on the internet, these ideas are submitted and kind souls make these community builds of Android.
I also love snagging the development builds before the final versions are released. If something works perfectly, I get bored of it. If something doesn’t work quite as you would expect, I like trying to find a workaround, or submitting a bug to the developers of that ROM. Using a custom ROM makes you part of a deeper community, one of like-minded enthusiasts who want to get the most out of their smartphones and tablets.
Don’t Worry, You’ll be Fine
If you’re looking into the world of Rooting and custom ROM’s, then you will doubtless have heard the rumors that if you do it wrong it makes your phone unusable. Whilst this is possible, it is extremely – like extremely – rare. If you follow the simple instructions on a trusted forum or site for your device (like ours), or, even better, from the the ROM creators site, and follow them closely, you will be successful. I would say that 99% of custom ROM flashes are successful. The 1% of failures comes from people forgetting to charge their devices before flashing, as depending on how many steps you have to follow, the rooting process can take up to forty minutes.
So Many to Choose From!
One of the not-so-obvious joys of using a custom ROM is that you have so many to choose from. Each one with a slightly different aim and objective. The most popular ROM is CyanogenMod, partly because it is a fast and well-maintained ROM, but also because it is available for so many devices, 100 and counting in fact. Then there are other ROM’s like Android Revolution, focused on speed, improved usage, and occasional graphic driver enhancements. Then there is AOKP, and many more, so research as many as you can find which have a build available for your device. Identify the one that appeals most to you, and then find the instructions to install it. Bam!
Do I Need To Flash a New Rom? Can’t I Just Enjoy Having Root?
Well it depends on what your end objective is. If you want to enjoy a new Android experience different from your current one, or you want a certain set of features that a ROM provides, then no. You will need to take the brave step and flash your device. If however you want to run some applications which require root privileges like the network encrypting and disguising application Tor#, then you don’t need to flash a custom ROM, and a plain old root will do just fine.
The Forums Expect Me To Know Everything, But I Don’t Understand Some of the Terms.
That’s to be expected and not at all your fault. Though a large percentage or rooters and rom-users are a bit geeky or computer inclined, anyone should be allowed to enjoy their Android phone this way. So here are some definitions and explanations of terms which I hope might clear up some things for you.
Easy there, Flashing doesn’t have any connotation with that. Nor does it have quite the same meaning older computer users may be thinking of, the act of ‘Flashing’ EEPROM in older computers. What flashing means in the Android world is basically copying files, be it a whole Android build or a collection of applications, to your devices internal memory. I suppose the idea of flashing is that ‘BAM’ your old system files are gone, and the new ones are laid in their place. So, the expression ‘Flashing the ROM’ pretty much means copying the ROM files to where they need to go.
Users of Linux or advanced users of OS X will understand the meaning of Root User, but it’s unlikely that Windows Users will. Android is based upon the Linux operating system which runs on many computers, that in turn was based off of Unix. Something that has carried down these generations is the name of what Windows users call the ‘Administrator’ user. The only difference here is the name and that the Root User can do absolutely anything. Even deleting files which a computer or Android device needs to boot up, which Windows protects even from the Administrator in most cases.
ClockWork Mod / Recovery
This is a small program which you can install, and can boot into instead of Android when you turn your on. This is usually done by holding both the volume down and power buttons simultaneously. Within ClockworkMod, you can flash new ROM’s, back up your existing ones, erase cache’s, install updates, and many more things. Just remember that rooting a device doesn’t install ClockworkMod. It has to be done separately.
If you have more questions, be sure to check out our Rooting for Dummies post here. This post contains all the various rooting guides we’ve made to help walk you through it. We’ve also got another section devoted to custom ROM’s too, so check them out if you are curious to know more.
We also have a dedicated rooting category here, too.
Be brave, count to ten, and go for it
You’ll be worrying about whether or not you’ve done everything perfectly, or if something will go wrong. Remember to check the guide provided thoroughly, and make sure you are ready to do all the steps and you’ll be fine. Afterwards you will have a truly open and customisable Android device.
Happy Rooting! Tell us about your experiences rooting and why you root your Android devices below? To root or not to root?