Replacing your Android phone OS

Replacing your Android phone OS

Submitted by Jitesh Doshi on Sat, 06/16/2012 - 19:55
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If you have one of the Android-based smart phones then you might not be getting most out it. That's because the distribution of Android that it comes pre-installed with is unnecessarily is bloated and crippled at the same time. You have the choice of installing a lighter and more capable distribution of Android on it. There is a thriving community of developers who are working to give you several such distributions at http://www.xda-developers.com/.

Rather than fully describing how to do it in step-by-step instructions (you can search for your device's specific method on http://www.xda-developers.com/ forums), let me explain the concepts and terms.

  1. Custom ROMs - Your phone has an OS on it. It is stored on flash ROM (writable solid state memory, kind of a like a hard-disk partition). A custom ROM is an alternative distribution of the OS (Android or other) as an installable image file.
  2. Boot loader - A program installed on your phone that the phone's computer executes as the very first program - even before it loads the OS. This program, called boot loader, loads and runs the actual OS. The bootloader is also the first layer of security on your device.
  3. Unlocked boot loader - The boot loader that comes pre-installed on most phones is "locked" - meaning it doesn't let you install and boot other OS's. In order to replace your phone's OS, you will need to unlock and replace the boot loader.
  4. Recovery - Smart phones have a special partition called "recovery" which let you restore the phone's data, or OS to a previous (or another) state. You will have to replace your recovery program as well so that you can install a new OS on your phone. Popular recoveries are Clockwork Mod (CWM) or TWRP.

More to come ...

Please leave a comment if this was helpful, or if some info is incorrect.

Jitesh Doshi

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