Droid X Modding

Hey folks. I saw that in some of the other android threads folks were talking about various ROMs and things on other phones. I figured I’d just make a separate thread for Droid X’s.

So, I got one of these when they came out, and I love it. I saw a guy at a conference who had one, and he had modded the hell out of it, and I’ve been thinking that I may be ready to get under the hood a bit.

I was wondering if anyone here had any advice regarding good stuff to do with a Droid X specifically… cool things they had done with theirs, etc.

I write software, and I’ve even written some Android apps, so I’m pretty comfortable with tech stuff. However, I’m not really that sure where to start when it comes to this stuff. If there’s a good primer regarding all the issues, that’d be exceptionally useful.

One of the biggest things I’m looking for is a fallback plan… meaning, what do I need to do in order to get things back to how they are now, assuming I screw stuff up. If I know that I can’t totally brick my phone and ruin everything, then I’ll be able to just tinker with stuff and figure out how things work. But at this point, I’m still kind of worried that I might do something that will permanently hose things up.

So, any advice from other Droid X owners who have done cool things with their phone?

While I have an EVO, the Droid X is a great phone, so you wanna get to reading, especially places like this:


Before you decide to root or anything, read, read, and read some more. :) Once you’re rooted, there’s a ton you can do with it. Good luck!

Ya, I had seen those forums, but kind of went “OMGWTFBBQ” when I started reading them. There’s a lot of crap being discussed there that seems to have some non-trivial pre-requisites when it comes to knowledge.

If that’s all there is, then I’ll just get to it.

I was kind of hoping that someone here had some basics they could toss my way, like, “Ok, generally you’re going to want to do X, Y, and Z.”

Really, the big thing is:

  1. Is it possible that I can hose things up so bad that the phone is bricked permanently?
  2. What’s the general course of action if I screw it up, to get things back to their settings? Meaning, can I kind of back up the phone and then if all else fails, just restore it to that state?

Once I know that stuff, then I’ll feel comfortable just tinkering with it… it’s that fear that I’m gonna ruin things that keeps me from going into normal techno mode and just push buttons to figure stuff out.

If it was an EVO, I could give ya X, Y and Z, but sadly I can’t, but I hope someone can.

As for your other questions:

  1. Absolutely, I’ve seen folks report it here or there. It doesn’t seem easy to do, but it’s possible.
  2. Once you’re rooted, you do a NAND backup, which backs up the entirety of your ROM in its current state. As long as your phone isn’t bricked, you can restore a backup and go back to exactly where you started. You can also flash a ROM in the bootloader if recovery breaks by changing the file name. I’ve had to do this a couple of times.

Here are some good places to start:

Thanks for making this thread. I have also had the droid x since launch and I really think it’s time to fix it up.

Sent from my DROIDX using Tapatalk

Rooting most phones at this point is low-risk. I won’t say NO risk, yes it can become bricked beyond repair, and it’s time to hope you have good insurance…but it’s pretty rare at this point. Most of them have been tested sufficiently that as long as you can follow basic instructions, you’re probably not going to brick your phone. And like Brian said, once it’s rooted, you can do a full backup that will ensure you can go back to current state as long as the phone will boot into recovery – and that’s pretty hard (though not impossible) to break.

Something to keep in mind, though, is that updates often break root, and if you remove carrier bloatware – at least on Sprint – you’ll probably have to restore it before you can get the update. Or wait for a new ROM with the update built in.

I guess the real question I have is what does rooting really give me? I know I can remove the bloatware but does it make things really all that different?

Absolutely! With rooting you can:

As you said, remove bloatware.
Do full (NAND) backups of your existing ROM.
Flash new ROM’s for a different user experience.
Flash different kernels for better battery life.
Enable free USB and WiFi tethering.
Use many awesome root-only apps like Titanium Backup and Root Explorer.
Oh, also, overclock or underclock your CPU for faster speeds or better battery life, respectfully.

Rooting gives you total control over your phone.

Sounds uh… Complicated.

The thing is I have grown to like the widgets that came with my phone and when I tried to use launcher pro it broke them all. I guess I might need to dig in a little deeper. We will see.

It’s not complicated at all, at least if you have a modicum of computer knowledge and are comfortable with everything. If not, don’t bother rooting, honestly. It’s something you should only do once fully comfy with it, like a tattoo or something. ;)

I dunno I just want a better experience with my droid then I get now.

Well Launcher Pro uses its own widgets, just like Motoblur or Sense use their own, and if you switch from one launcher to another, you lose all that.

Just a couple of points of order. Please mind that I speak as a Droid 1 owner who is nonetheless a pretty hardcore enthusiast.

Generally, all Launchers except manufacturer-themed ones can share widgets and wallpapers with ease. As Brian mentioned, HTC’s SenseUI and Motorola’s Blur (along with Samsung’s less invasive Touchwiz and whatever Sony is calling theirs these days) do come with a pretty hefty bevy of custom-designed widgets that rely on deep hooks in the Android code that these “enhancements” have grafted on. Once you move away from the company-specific UI, you lose access to all that.

The widgets you download from the market and that come with “standard” apps (un-modified by the manufacturer) will work across all launchers. The occasional launcher will offer unique widgets as an extra (LauncherPro’s paid version includes several fancy ones), but these are effectively the same as paid widgets: there if you buy them.

All of which may not matter much if you’ve fallen in love with the Sense or Blur ways of doing things, of course, but I don’t want you to think that switching homescreens immediately means losing everything you’ve ever loved about the phone.

Furthermore, keep in mind that the Droid X (as well as its brothers the Droid 2 and Droid Pro) feature locked bootloaders featuring Motorola’s custom eFuse protection system. These bootloaders check the integrity of the /system folder each boot and, more importantly, ensure that only a Motorola-signed kernel boots each power-on.

What this largely means is that hardcore modding is somewhere between difficult and impossible. ROMs (that is, new versions of the Android OS developed by hackers/modders) that run on these latter-day Motorola devices rely on a variety of tricks (albeit time-tested, reliable tricks) to overlay a new /system image after eFuse performs its checks. As such, you normally have to rely on a bootstrapping application and will oftentimes need to “reboot” twice rather than once to switch ROMs (once to load the signed files, and a second, “soft” boot to overlay the new ROM’s payload).

Furthermore, you can only engage in activities that the included kernel supports. If there’s some CPU clockspeed you want to access that the kernel doesn’t have, you’re out of luck. If there’s some device you want to hook up but lack drivers for, you’re also liable to be out of luck (AKA, thank God for non-Sense ROMs on HTC phones, so those poor bastards can use Wiimotes). Essentially, you will have control over many aspects of your phone, but certain very low-level functions will be off-limits.

Of course, you get access to fun apps. . . Titanium Backup can backup any app on the phone, store your text messages and settings across multiple ROMs, and generally save your butt. Wireless tether does exactly what it says at absolutely no charge to you. Drocap and the related apps let you easily take screenshots and save them to the SD card. SetCPU lets you control your CPU speed with advanced profiles that can trigger on numerous conditions (battery life, temperature, etc.), although you’ll be limited to speeds allowed by your kernel. ROM Manager can automate many ROM-flashing and NAND-backup-making functions for your recovery to assist in all your modding derring-do. Root explorer lets you fiddle around with system files while the phone is booted without use of a computer.

If you’re a tinkerer, rooting is fantastic. For most of the modern phones it is NOT required to have a great, fast, and enjoyable experience. . . but if you want absolute ownership of your device, it is very empowering. It’s a real pity what Motorola’s done with the bootloader, but the Android modding community has come out in force for the DroidX/2/Pro, crafting Blur-free ROMs and ensuring that newer versions of Android are backported to those devices even before Motorola/Verizon officially release updates.

P.S. - I also started writing all this an hour ago and then got distracted by the Craig Ferguson Doctor Who special. I have no idea if some of what I’ve covered here’s been said by others in the interim :)

Great info, thanks.