How to Root Your HTC Thunderbolt

August 8, 2011
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When it came out into the market, everyone had his/her eyes on the HTC Thunderbolt, and many were mesmerized by its speed and performance. In one breath, it was immediately described awesome. Yet, enthusiasts and power users were hardly satisfied. You know these types of folks–they just won’t settle with the HTC Thunderbolt’s stock functionalities.

And, knowing that a lot of the device’s other powers lay locked and inaccessible from the hands of ordinary people, Android enthusiasts quickly found a solution to gain full control (i.e., to gain root access) of the device and unleash its full potential. This guide outlines the methods for doing just that.

Before you do anything — Make a backup

Don’t forget to back up your data. If you have synced the device with a Google account, then the contacts, calendar, Gmail, and other selected Google-related data will not be lost and will come back after the next sync.

However, you should backup anything you want to keep that is not stored on the SD card:

It would also be a good idea to back up everything stored on the SD card in the rare case the SD card must be formatted to resolve any major problems.

MyBackup Root, SMS Backup & Restore, and Call Backup and Restore are all free applications that can assist with backing up your data.

What You Need

Rooting the Thunderbolt

Disclaimer: ROOTING THE HTC THUNDERBOLT WILL VOID YOUR WARRANTY. Android Authority disclaims all liability for any harm that may befall your device, including, but not limited to bricked phones, voided manufacturer warranties, exploding batteries, etc.

  1. Make sure that the md5sums or md5 hashes of the files you downloaded match the ones specified in the requirements section above. If the md5 hashes do not match, re-download the files before you proceed with the next step.
  2. On your desktop, go into the temporary folder where you unzipped the files for exploits.zip. Copy the contents of that folder into the same folder where the adb executable file is located (most often, the folder/directory named “platform-tools” inside the installation directory for the Android SDK).
  3. Connect the HTC Thunderbolt to the computer via USB.
  4. On the computer, open a terminal (also known as command prompt on Windows-based systems) and run the following commands:
    adb push psneuter /data/local/
    adb push busybox /data/local/
    adb push misc.img /data/local/
    adb shell chmod 777 /data/local/psneuter
    adb shell chmod 777 /data/local/busybox
  5. Gain temporary root access and flash the custom misc.img onto the device. You can do that by running the following commands in the ADB shell prompt:
    adb shell
    NOTE: The shell should display “$”.
    /data/local/psneuter

  6. At this point, adb will exit and will restart as root. Now, confirm the md5 hash of misc.img by running the following commands:
    adb shell
    NOTE: At this point, the shell should display “#”, which signifies that you have root access.
    /data/local/busybox md5sum /data/local/misc.img
  7. See to it that the resulting md5 hash is c88dd947eb3b36eec90503a3525ae0de and not another string. Otherwise, re-download the file (the package) and start all over.
  8. If the md5 hash matches, proceed to write misc.img to the handset. Run the following command:
    dd if=/data/local/misc.img of=/dev/block/mmcblk0p17
    exit
  9. Rename PG05IMG_downgrade.zip as PG05IMG. (IMPORTANT: Do not confuse this file with PG05IMG_stock.zip, which is a different file.) Copy it to your SD card. Remember not to open it; the phone will open it automatically. Then, run the following command:
    adb reboot bootloader
  10. After the handset reboots, you will see a menu. Scroll down to Bootloader option and press the power button to select it and allow the ROM to be flashed. You will be asked to upgrade, select “Yes.” The reboot will take some time.
  11. Prepare the two-part exploit to get root and unlock the MMC. You need to push wpthis, busybox, and psneuter to your handset. Do all that by running the following commands:
    adb push psneuter /data/local/
    adb push busybox /data/local/
    adb push wpthis /data/local/
    adb shell chmod 777 /data/local/psneuter
    adb shell chmod 777 /data/local/busybox
    adb shell chmod 777 /data/local/wpthis
  12. Now, run the exploits by executing the following commands:
    adb shell
    /data/local/psneuter
    NOTE: The following commands will unlock the eMMC:
    adb shell
    /data/local/wpthis
    exit
  13. Flash the engineering bootloader. Be extra careful with this step. You might brick your phone if you mess up with this step. Run the following commands:
    adb push hbooteng.nb0 /data/local/
    adb shell
    /data/local/busybox md5sum /data/local/hbooteng.nb0
  14. After the last command above finishes, you will be shown an md5 hash for hbooteng.nb0. You should see 6991368ee2deaf182048a3ed9d3c0fcb as the md5 hash. Otherwise, do not continue. Delete the file and re-download it (the package that contains the hbooteng.nb0).
  15. If the md5 hash matches, proceed with the following command to write the new bootloader:
    dd if=/data/local/hbooteng.nb0 of=/dev/block/mmcblk0p18
  16. Confirm that the new bootloader was written properly to the handset by issuing the following command:
    /data/local/busybox md5sum /dev/block/mmcblk0p18

  17. Again, you should see 6991368ee2deaf182048a3ed9d3c0fcb as the result of the md5 hash calculation. If the md5 hash does not match, try to write the file again. If you still don’t have the desired output, seek further help. Visit chat.andirc.net and go to #thunderbolt channel. Please do not reboot if you still don’t get the desired results.
  18. If everything went ahead as expected, reboot the phone. Simply press and hold the Power button on the device until it asks for a reboot or just shuts down, then fire it back up.
  19. Rename PG05IMG_stock.zip as PG05IMG and copy it to your SD card. (IMPORTANT: Do not confuse this file with PG05IMG_downgrade.zip, which is a different file.) Remember not to open it; the phone will open it automatically. Then, flash it using the following command:
    adb reboot bootloader
    NOTE: After it flashes, your device will be running release firmware version with S-OFF.

  20. After the handset reboots, you will see a menu. Scroll down to Bootloader option and press the power button to select it and allow the ROM to be flashed. You will be asked to upgrade, select “Yes.” The reboot will take some time.
  21. Once done, reboot and delete PB05IMG from your SDCard. Your device is now fully rooted.

Don’t get too excited and load too much into your phone yet. Your next step would be to download and install a good and smooth ROM and get rid of the stock ROM. You can get many ROMs from many developers – one of the popular and trusted ones is no other than the lip-smacking CyanogenMod 7. Also, you’ll need SETCPU, Astro File Manager, and Titanium Backup to go with your ROM manager.

It’s no sweat rooting the Thunderbolt if you’re good in following instructions. Now, you have a Thunderbolt that is all yours to explore and fiddle with.

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