[Verizon] Need some help installing a custom ROM...

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  1. nzdreamer55

    nzdreamer55 Well-Known Member

    Hello everyone,

    I need a little hand holding before I try this. I think that I am having some trouble with the terms that are being used when people talk about custom installing of ROM's. Also since I am using the SGN, most of the stuff I read about is on older systems so it is harder to figure out since this is my first android machine.

    Could someone help me understand the recovery process? I realize that this is a method for overwriting the software that is currently on the phone, but when I read about custom recovery mods then I am a little confused as to what is custom about them? Does this just mean that they are designed for writing to areas that normally the recovery doesn't? Is the most famous one clockwork or is clockwork the guy who made it? In ROM manager it says Flash ClockworkMod Recovery so does this mean that the program that this will overwrite files that ClockworkMod has created? Since I don't have a lot of history on the whole android system maybe someone who is older (> 25 :D) or who has worked with this for a while could school me.


  2. alostpacket

    alostpacket Over Macho Grande? VIP Member

    Are you on Verizon? I can move this thread to a forum section where there will be a lot of people there knowledgeable to help with ROMs :)
    scary alien likes this.
  3. nzdreamer55

    nzdreamer55 Well-Known Member

    Why yes I am on Verizon. I though that I might get more general information here, but if you think that I would get more info in the verizon sub menu then please move it there. Thank you.
  4. alostpacket

    alostpacket Over Macho Grande? VIP Member

    Yep, actually it's the "All things root" for Verizon sub-form. (This includes all things ROM)

    This is actually important because some of the ROMs for the GSM Gnex may not work on the LTE Gnex and vice-versa. But the peeps in this forum will know a bunch to help you out.

    These threads might help you get started:







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  5. sneakking

    sneakking Well-Known Member

    I suggest reading through the guides that are stickied to the top of the Verizon all things root section

    Edit: see above
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  6. nzdreamer55

    nzdreamer55 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the links. So I have taken a look at them, but I'm still a little too dumb to get some of the things. The links are more like steps of how to do things, but don't explain why or how those things work. Kind of like reading how to do surgery, but not understanding why you are cutting a certain plane of tissue or tying off a particular vessel.

    So I get that the ADB is a program for windows to allow you to communicate with the phone. Also the phone is a linux type OS but it seems like this is only used for rooting the phone. Is this correct? Would you use this for changing the ROM?

    What is the difference between ClockworkMod Recovery and Clockwork Recovery?

    The stickies said that "The adb (Android debug bridge) and fastboot are two utilities" but then I also read that you can put the phone into fastboot mode (is this a utility that is built into the OS)?

    Is using the recovery system that is build into the android system the basis of changing things on the phone?

    What is the basic recovery system of the android system and was it created for users to use or was it mainly created so that if the phone had a problem that it would automatically run it kind of like a roll back / system restore thing?

    I won't ask to many questions at once as I think it will overwhelm the board. Thanks for the links.

    alostpacket likes this.
  7. nzdreamer55

    nzdreamer55 Well-Known Member

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  8. Yeahha

    Yeahha Usually off topic VIP Member

    To change roms you do it on the phone, you don't need to connect it to a computer at all to flash roms. If you manage to soft brick or do something that causes you to lose root you may need to connect to a computer

    Nothing at all ;)

    Fastboot is the bootloader, it allows you to either boot to the OS or recovery

    Yes in general recovery is where you will make OS changes. If you wish to flash a rom, radio, kernel it is all done via recovery.

    You can restore nandroid backups that you made in recovery if you flash a rom or kernel you do not like (or just do something that prevents the phone from fully booting like deleting an important system app, I know this from experience :eek:)

    If you wish to completely recover back to stock you can do that as well you would need to flash the appropriate files in fastboot while using a computer.

    Feel free to ask all you want, I am sure you will get answers :D this forum is frequented quite a bit by many people
  9. jbdan

    jbdan Well-Known Member

    Hi nzdreamer

    We'll hold your hand, but only if you lead us :D

    Really the best way to learn is to read read read, there is so much info out there it can be overwhelming so I relate where you're coming from.

    I'll surmise the best way I can which is analogous to a PC.

    ClockWorkMod Recovery (called CWM or clockwork also) is a custom recovery for Android. It's not a guy :p Lets just call it the BIOS of your phone. Familiar with PC's and entering its BIOS?

    In a custom recovery you can make backups (system restore on a PC ring a bell?) and restore them. You also flash your ROMS/MODS/Kernels within this recovery. Recovery also gives you the option to recover. Recover from mistakes made usually by the user. A safety net.

    Are you rooted and unlocked at the moment or are you working your way there by researching what this stuff is all about?

    Good luck it's fun and addicting feel free to ask away!
  10. Mahalo

    Mahalo Well-Known Member

    And THAT is what makes this place so great. Unlike some OTHER forums (read:XDA) where you will likely get berated and flamed for any question you ask for the most part people here are helpful and patient. Of course there are some who will give offhand comments...and some posts which beg for offhand comments but they are in the minority.
    scary alien, alostpacket and Yeahha like this.
  11. nzdreamer55

    nzdreamer55 Well-Known Member

    Great I'll do my best.

    Ok that helps. I do understand what the BIOS is on a PC. I guess that the word recovery kind of throws me, but I think I get it. So when the phone starts up power goes to the CWM (if this isn't installed what does the phone use? Is it called the recovery....system? Would you say it is recovering from the off or powered down state?) and from there it starts checking for hardware and self testing-POST (do I have a volatile storage system-for the PC this is the RAM, do I have a non-volital storage system-the hard drives, do I have other basic input out put devices attached to me-keyboard, video card, etc.)

    After it finds all that then it reads the MBR and on this is where the OS takes control.

    So in my mind I can see the little BIOS chip on my mother board storing the code for start up and then handing off control to the OS stored on a hard drive.

    For the Android system on the SGN, is this all on the internal 32GB memory or is there a small amount of memory that is set aside for initially starting the phone (recovery) and from there the OS takes over? Is this memory partitioned into different sections with different mount points or does this not apply to an android system. Is it differnt? I don't think that linux system is differnt and isn't this what the android os is based?

    So here it seems like the word recovery is more like a group of settings, not an actual start up mechanism such as the BIOS program of a PC. Is that correct? Maybe it is the entire collection of the OS and the BIOS?

    Yes! This line totaly makes sense

    Now I'm confused. Are you using the term recovery to mean the program (OS) that is currently on the phone or do you have multiple custom prorams (OS) that you then overwrite and then restart with these custom ones.

    Is there a place in the phone OS/memory where it looks if there is a problem or are people using the term recovery to mean where the OS resides and this is where you need to put things and then restart the phone for those changes to take effect?

    I kind of feel like it is the '80's and people are using the word "dude" for everything and the only way to tell what they are saying is if you can distinguish based on context and inflection (which is hard over the internet :D)

    So my phone is rooted (I followed the 1 click method) and I have a few su apps, but in general it is mostly stock. I will say that when I did it is was mostly a follow the instructions with out much understanding type of process. I do have some apps that I have purchased and I would love to update to something that gives the connection to wifi and mobile data a little better boost as it seems to really be hit and miss. Some times I have 4G speeds that are faster than my home cable (currently doing d/l at 20Mbps and up at 3.5Mbps) and then other times, it is crawling or cannot connect to anything even though there is plenty of signal (wifi, 3g).

    Does the android OS need a swap file like Lunix? Where are the application that I have on the phone stored (like in windows there are certain file types that can start programs bat, exe, etc.)? How are things organized within the OS (Windows has a program file folder where most of the apps are).

    Thanks a lot for the help. I hope that this does not come off like a rant or a putting down the android system becuase I have been waiting for the ICS OS to come out for a long time before I jumped in and I really like the things google makes so hopefully it will be a great trip. I love that people are changing the OS and making it better and faster than the company who put out this device. I just want to understand it all before it becomes out of date :D!

    Thanks again
  12. nzdreamer55

    nzdreamer55 Well-Known Member

    OK this helped a lot.

    So fastboot is really more like the BIOS. When the phone powers up (not connected to a computer) is it using fastboot? Are there other bootloaders?

    So, I start the phone and fastboot starts running, BUT because I have given it the secret command (holding the power, vol up and vol down at the same time-read this as the F8 key at start up for a PC to enter the BIOS) it allows me into a GUI of the fastboot program.

    So If I have a GSN that is totally stock, and I wanted to back it up, would the recovery program do this? Pretend that I didn't do anything to the phone except turn it on once a day to do a back up, could I create daily back up of the stock phone or would the next day just erase the previous one (I don't want to do this I am just trying to understand how it works)?

    So to do this I am using my computer to erase everything on my phone (wipe, Really all data? mount points, partitions, etc.) and then rewrite the apporiate files back to the phone. Does my phone have these backup files or would I need to move these back-ups from my phone to my computer before I tried a complet recovery?

    Now my computer is running the fastboot application. Why is it running this program, is it so that the phone boots up and allows the writing to the memory? Am I using the ADB to communicate with my phone or is this also handled by fastboot?

    Again thanks for the help. Please read these questions as a sign that you are helping me understand and I am hungry for more.

  13. Yeahha

    Yeahha Usually off topic VIP Member

    Yes fastboot would be the the same as BIOS in the comparison. Different OEM use different bootloaders. HTC uses hboot for example on the Gnex the bootloader is called fastboot.

    Correct, when your phone is booting and on the "Google" screen you could say that it is in fastboot then when the boot animation starts fastboot has started the OS from Read Only memory.

    No, the stock recovery is very bare bones. It will allow you to do a factory reset, apply a update.zip file, wipe cache, and reboot. Here is a screenshot of the stock recovery.
    In order to make a full backup you must have a custom recovery installed. Currently on the Gnex, the only custom recovery available are variants of Clockworkmod.

    Yes it would be a complete wipe of the system, I am not sure if there are untouched partitions when you recover to stock or not since I haven't done so I think there is a factory reset done but the SD card data is still intact.

    The files to unroot and go back to stock are available online. We have links to them in the sticky that tells you how to unroot. You don't need to worry about trying to make a backup of the phone stock.

    Now when you flash a rom you will make a nandroid backup in recovery which will be stored on your SD card so if the rom is not to your liking or the phone won't boot you can just restore the backup you made.

    The computer needs fastboot and ADB to communicate with the phone in various state. Without the fastboot info your computer can not tell the phone to do anything while the phone is in fastboot. Likewise without ADB you can not run ADB commands from the computer while the OS is running. You can also use ADB within recovery as well which can be helpful if you forgot to make a backup and flashed a bad rom that doesn't allow you to boot.

    No problem, I can tell you don't just want to be able to do this stuff but want to also understand what you are doing and that is quite respectable and if you get in a bind later on it could help you out quite a bit.
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  14. nzdreamer55

    nzdreamer55 Well-Known Member

    That is awesome to learn and makes things a lot more clear. Do you know/think that the bootloader (fastboot) is located on the "SD" card of the GSN?

    Again, thanks for the info. Totally becoming more clear now. Here is the hard question now...is there a place on the GSN that hold this? Is it called the update.zip (I would guess that this isn't really the file, but that it is really for updates, but it COULD contain all the info for factory reset).

    OK so if I get this, when you say nandroid back up can I assume that you are using the program CWM Recovery (a modified program that is taking the place of the stock Recovery program that comes with the GSN) or are you using a program like titanium backup or ROM manager?

    Does nandroid back up imply that the backup is from a stock OS or is it that is contains certain files (such as user apps and data)?

    BTW...If you have installed CWM Recovery and you boot into fastboot can you then select which recovery program you use (stock Recovery vs CWM Recovery) or once you install CWM Recovery does this overwrite the stock recovery?

    Great. This makes sense. Thanks for the help
  15. quiklives

    quiklives Well-Known Member

    I think so, yes. Regardless, it is located somewhere that doesn't get wiped in a factory reset.

    Do you mean the place where the backup is? If so, your backups live in /sdcard/clockworkmod/backup/(filename)

    Update.zip is usually an OTA update from the manufacturer/carrier. The filename for a ROM or kernel you want to flash will vary, and where they are saved will vary too, but if you download them directly to your phone (via mobile browser, for instance), they should be in /sdcard/download .

    Titanium Backup is for apps, not a full backup. You can make a backup through ROM Manager (because ROM Manager is a sort of interface for Clockwork Mod) but best practice is really to boot into ClockworkMod Recovery and make your nandroid backup from there.

    A nandroid backup is just a complete image of the current state of your phone. Apps, data, widget placement, everything.

    I have 2 or 3 saved on my computer at any given time. I made one of the totally stock setup, and moved it to my computer. Then I made one right after flashing a ROM I really liked, and moved that one over. Each time I flash a ROM, I make a new one, and make sure the newest one is also saved on my computer (as well as my phone).

    I haven't booted into fasboot since I got through the rooting process. However, in general, CWM overwites stock recovery and when you reboot into recovery, that's what you get.
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  16. Yeahha

    Yeahha Usually off topic VIP Member

    I know it isn't located in the SD partition, and AFAIK you can not access where it is located via the OS it could be like a BIOS chip but I will try to get some input from someone who knows more than me on this.

    Just as before I do not know where the recovery is located at in the phone memory I know you can flash recovery using an app like rom manager in the OS. Factory reset in recovery is basically just wiping all user data off the device. When you unroot you also rewrite the system data as well.

    A nandroid backup is taking a complete image of a your current ROM. You do it with a custom recovery. Titanium backup is an app that backs up apk files and the data associated with those apk files. ROM manager is an app that allows you to tell the phone to reboot into recovery and can even flash roms from it, basically a GUI that allows you to tell recovery what to do. I personally do not like rom manager because I like to make sure things I want to happen actually happen.

    A nandroid is an backup of your entire phone (not SD card partition) as it is at the time the backup is made (system and user apps and data, system settings, home screen layout...)

    CWM recovery replaces the stock recovery. You can flash the stock recovery back if you need.

    I hope this is getting clearer for you.
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  17. nzdreamer55

    nzdreamer55 Well-Known Member

    It is getting much more clear. Thanks. There is a lot to digest. I will be trying to flash a Modified ROM soon as it seems like this phone should be able to do so much more than it can right now and I think that a Modified ROM is the way to go, but as you had said earlier, if I don't understand how it works, then I am only going to get into trouble if it bricks and I don't understand how it work (or at least if I cannot talk about it correctly then I won't be able to get help from the people of this forum ;)).

    Can anyone suggest a ROM to start with for someone like me with the SGN on Verizon (is this like asking if anyone can paint a house at a house painters convention)?

    Ok. Now I understand why they call it ROM manager. It makes sense. So I have ROM Manager Premium v5.0.0.6 and it says that I have ClockworkMod Recovery on my phone. So I no longer have the stock recovery. I kind of think it is weird to call it a custom recovery given that there is only one. If I have a custom car, I could have any number of fancy cars, not a specific one. Do other phones have other recovery programs other than the clockworkmod recovery program?

    If you don't use ROM manager to flash in a new ROM, what other ways can it be done?

    So, I see that I can reboot into CWM Recovery and from there, there is a backup choice. Is this a nandroid backup? I tried it and is seems to be backing up a lot of stuff. Is seems like it is backing up to the SD card (but where is it coming from, isn't it coming from the SD card? Are there 2 mount points 1 for the OS and another for the SD card).
    So should I be able to move it from here to a computer for safe keeping?
    Are there other programs that offer to create a nandroid backup?

    So much more clear. I really think that this little thread is going to help a lot of people who come into this. I think that if you have been with android for a while it is just second nature, but the GSN with it's non-removable memory it is a little confusing.

    FWIW under the Clockworkmod recovery I noticed that there is a mounts and storage option. From there is looks like there is a /system, /cache, and /data mount point. When I open the ES File Explorer I notice that there is also a /sdcard mount point.

    Also my backup said that "No /sdcard/.android_secure found. Skipping backup of applications on external storage."
    and "No sd-ext found. skipping backup of sd-ext."

    I know this might be a little beyond the scope here, but is there a reason that I should partition my "sd card"? I have the option for 128, 256, and 512MB. For computers the idea is that you have seperate sections of memory (usually on the same drive) so that if something get's damages, the entire ship isn't lost kind of idea. Are custom ROMs going to use this extended partition?

    If your fingers are tired from answering my questions, links to other places will do just a well.

    Really I am very grateful as now I am liking my phone a lot more than when I first got it. I also can donate or buy apps that people here are working on to show my support for the help :D.


    Update: So that link that I posted is REALLY helpfull. I am just getting around to reading it all now. So for those who have helped me my graditude is yours, and for those who are smart enough to read the instruction before asking questions, the spoils of self gratification are yours and yours alone.
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  18. scary alien

    scary alien not really so scary Moderator

    Wow! ^^^

    Awesome display of the helpfulness and the deep knowledge of the folks here at AF!

    You've been in great hands here, nzdreamer55. I'll take my turn at trying to help-out here a little:

    Just remember that your Galaxy Nexus (and every Android device) is basically a small (but very powerful) Linux system. So, basically, its a computer that instead of a hard drive, has a solid-state memory instead.

    Also, there's a very small chance of truly bricking your GNex--as long as you can boot in to fastboot (bootloader) mode, you'd be able to flash your radio(s) and operating system back to stock (as it was when it came from the factory).

    Yeah, choice of ROM is a personal choice. For me, AOKP is a very nice, stable, well thought of, widely-used ROM.

    Lots of features, options, controls, etc. Its stable, fast, etc. Just my 2-cents.

    The reason why the recovery is called a custom recovery is because it was originally created from the stock one (the source is available for both stock and the custom recovery). Its called "custom" because the stock was customized to add lots of features not available (or advisable to have) in a stock recovery utility that the general masses could access.

    Yes, there are indeed other versions of custom recovery. Amon_RA is another widely-used and very good one (don't think there's a version of this that's been built for the GNex though). RZRecovery is yet another, fairly new one.

    Each custom recovery needs to be slightly tailored to each device, given the differences in hardware features, boot address, etc.

    When the custom recovery is booted-up, you are actually running a small operating system (in fact, the kernel is usually identical to the stock kernel--it depends on what was used when the custom recovery was built).

    How to enter recovery mode (custom or stock)

    and also, FYI: How to enter fastboot / bootloader mode

    (lots of great topics in that thread: http://androidforums.com/verizon-galaxy-nexus-all-things-root/474570-how-all-things-root-samsung-galaxy-nexus.html; Yeahha inspired it and I know the guy that wrote it ;) :))

    The backup in ClockworkMod (CWM) recovery IS a Nandroid backup--its called a Nandroid backup because of the type of memory used on our Android devices: NAND memory (and because it sounds very close to Android ;)).

    Also, it is indeed backing-up to the "SD card"--the "SD card" is virtual and is basically symbolically linked to an area on the internal memory (/data/media). There is no removable, external SD card on the GNex as I'm sure you already know ;).

    The backups are being written to /sdcard/clockworkmod/backup/ccyy-mm-dd.hh.mm.ss (I think that's right) and contains the following files:

    boot.img - a copy of your /boot partition
    recovery.img - a copy of your /recovery partition (usually holding your custom recovery if that has been flashed (written) to that area
    cache.ext4.tar - a tar (archive) of your /cache partition
    data.ext4.tar - a tar archive backup of your /data partition
    system.ext4.tar - a tar archive backup of you /system partition
    nandroid.md5 - a text file containing the MD5 checksum of each of the above files (allows you to verify that the above files were not corrupted when you go to restore your Nandroid backup).

    Yes, you would be well-advised to copy-off your Nandroid backup folder to an off-site source such as your PC--i.e., in case something happens to your "SD card"s contents.

    No, no other utilities are used to make a Nandroid backup--just custom recoveries.

    Just help those folks out like all the above ones have helped you, too! :)
    (that's all we ask :))

    Yep, there's many partitions, some of which are hidden from you--and most of which you'll never even have to worry about even if/when you root. They usually only come into play when you need to do some very low-level operations (or if you build custom ROMs or themes, etc.--i.e., get in to the development aspect of Android).

    I think that's related to apps that have been moved to the SD card...not 100% sure on that, though (and is a little irrelevant on the GNex since there is only really a logical distinction between internal and the "external" (not!) SD card.

    Nope, you shouldn't have to partition your SD card...I never have and don't plan to anytime soon. I'm sure there's good reasons for doing so (one is way outside the scope of our discussion here--its in regards to "protecting" your SD card from accidental modification (Superwipe)).

    I'm sure there's some ROMs out there ([ROM] Android Revolution HD
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  19. Yeahha

    Yeahha Usually off topic VIP Member

    Looks like SA answered most of the questions from that post. Just to confirm the "No /sdcard/.android_secure found" you received is for apps to SD, it makes no sense to move apps to the SD on the Gnex IMO;)

    Feel free to keep the questions coming...I like to make my fingers fing:D
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