Common X2 Questions and Answers
The purpose of this thread is to list a lot of common X2 questions and problems and provide some general answers. If you wish to learn in depth about any of the subjects discussed this isn't the place for it. More or less this is for general problems a lot of people have and their solutions as well as a general understanding of how the basic rooting and ROMing work and the limitations of our device.
Before I begin I'd like to share the story of how I got started using and interested in Android. Back in November 2009 the first Motorola Droid was released, at the time I was living in a big city and had AT&T service and an iPhone 3g. The commercials I saw certainly caught my attention and I always like Google but I had only had my iPhone for a short time and I didn't have a good enough reason to leave it, yet. Shortly thereafter I ended up moving to a small town where AT&T did not have 3g coverage, I couldn't stand for this so with a quick Google search I discovered that Verizon did cover my new area for 3g so I quickly canceled my AT&T and ordered my brand spanking new Motorola Droid.
I didn't know the first thing about it, I had jailbroken my iPhone and several of my friends, learnt quite a bit about the inner workings of it (that's a joke now cause you can't learn anything about the inner workings really, Apple locks down their software even more than their hardware) and thought I was quite proficient at it. Well the Droid turned my world upside down. The day I got it I started reading everything I could about rooting, within 2 hours of activating it there I was watching some guy on YouTube root a Droid and me pausing, rewinding, and playing to try and keep up with something I had no idea about. Luckily the Droid 1 turned out to be an "unbrickable" phone, otherwise I probably would have done some damage. In the days that followed I continued reading, flashing ROMs, reading, digging into the underlying system of the phone, reading, trying this and that, reading, I also did a lot of READING.
Are you getting my point yet? What I'm trying to say is I certainly didn't get to my knowledge level today by just asking questions. In fact my first year of playing with Android I rarely posted anything at all, let alone questions. I read articles, forums, developers blogs, anything I could get my browser on that had to do with Android. For me it was a pleasant experience because that's just the type of person I am. I like to know how things work and I've always been interested in computers. In fact Android got me re-interested in Linux, something I hadn't touched since my High School years. My point is you don't have to be an expert to enjoy applying mods to your phone, I'm certainly not an expert there are tons of people out there who are way more versed in Android than I am, but it will require reading if you ever want to go beyond the "tell me how to do it" phase and into the understanding phase. Will you truly understand everything? Probably not, I know I don't, but you can get a better grasp on whats going on with a little self-education and patience.
A list of links to commonly asked for downloads:
Tenfars Bootstrap Recovery
zergRUSH rooting method
A list of links to solutions to common problems discussed:
1KDS Linux SBF disc for the X2
SBF Guide (old school method)
Using zergRUSH Guide
Commonly asked directions:
How do I boot into stock recovery?
With the phone completely turned off, press and hold the volume down button. Continue to hold volume down and press the power button until the screen turns on. Once the screen turns on you may release the power button. When the top of the screen reads "Fastboot" release the volume down button. Now tap the volume down button until the top of the screen reads "Android Recovery", when it does press volume up. You'll now see a triangle with an exclamation mark inside it and Andy the android. Press volume up and down simultaneously. You're now in the stock recovery menu. Use the volume buttons to navigate and the power button functions as enter.
How do I boot into RSD mode (bootloader)?
With the phone completely turned off, press and hold the volume up button. Continue to hold volume up and press the power button until the screen turns on. Once the screen turns on you may release the power button. When the top of the screen reads "Starting RSD protocol support" release volume up and your phone is ready to be connected to the computer and begin flashing the sbf file.
What is a brick?
Well when we talk about our phones it's not referring to construction material, basically it's when you mess up modding your phone and it becomes unbootable (i.e. you can't do anything with it). This is not to be confused with a bootloop, that's entirely different. When someone says they've bricked their phone, it means it won't boot so it's as good as a brick on your desk (a paperweight).
What is a bootloop?
Bootlooping is what happens when the bootanimation that you see while the phone boots up keeps playing over and over again and the phone never fully boots up. 9 times outta ten the solution to this is to perform a factory reset from the stock recovery menu.
What is rooting?
Rooting is running an exploit designed to trick your phone into allowing superuser privileges to be enabled on your phone.
What is superuser?
Superuser is a state of access in all computers. Linux calls it root, hence "rooting a phone" in Windows it's referred to as Administrator or Administrator privileges. Superuser is the king of access to a computer system as opposed to a user which would be more like a subject in the kingdom. The king (root or superuser) can get away with anything even though it might be wrong for him to do while the subjects (regular user) is barred from even attempting such things (permission denied). As a superuser you could issue the command to delete everything if you wanted to (though you shouldn't) and as a user the system just wouldn't let you even try (permission denied). Why do you want such awesome power? Well it's your hardware and you should be able to have full control over it (in my opinion). Although having superuser access can be dangerous, it also allows some very useful stuff to be done, like flashing custom ROMs, or tweaking system files that you normally wouldn't have access to. It's all in the name of making our devices run better.
What is a ROM?
The ROM is the Operating System, it's what you see and interact with when you use your phone. The first time you use the phone you're using a Stock ROM, usually referred to as "stock". It's the setup that Motorola programmed at the factory. Generally when someone says ROM they are not talking about the stock ROM (or OTA Update;Over The Air Update) but actually they are referring to a custom ROM. The sad fact is that sometimes manufactures don't do a very good job programing the software for our devices. The X2 is a perfect example. The hardware is great on this phone however the stock software isn't so hot. Thus Developers (devs) work hard to re-write and in some cases write completely new code for our phones in an effort to improve the performance, usability, stability, and enjoyment we get out of our expensive pieces of hardware.
What is BSR(Bootstrap Recovery)/Custom Recovery/Clockwork Recovery?
All three of those things are essentially the same thing. The stock recovery that is built in to the system has a very limited functionality. Stock recovery is only able to wipe the data and cache and flash Motorola Signed updates only. It limits the files you can flash by looking for an encryption key that only Motorola has embedded in the files you're trying to flash. Remember those nice custom ROMs we were talking about? Well they don't come from Motorola so they do not have this encryption key, so we can't flash them. Or can we? Well, we can, just not in stock recovery. Enter BSR or custom recovery. For our phones this little app tricks the phone into rebooting into a custom written recovery that doesn't care if the file has an encryption key or not, so we can flash all those nice ROMs, modifications, and other stuff those wonderful devs work hard (and for free I might add) to provide us with. Another feature of BSR is the ability to make a NANDroid backup, which we'll cover in our next question.
What is a NANDroid backup?
This is a TOTAL system backup made from within BSR. Take a look at your phone, every app, text, home screen configuration, EVERY LAST DETAIL, will be stored in a NANDroid backup. Think of it as a snap shot in time. Something goes horribly wrong when flashing something and your phone can't be booted up properly to fix it? Well if you have a recent NANDroid backup, you'll likely lose little to no information or configuration at all. A general rule is always make a NANDroid backup before trying to modify the system in anyway that can't be done without root. So changing your home screen arrangement doesn't mean you should make a new backup, of course you could if you wanted to but it's more for things like flashing a new ROM or messing with themes or tweaking system files. Anything you're not sure about, make a backup first and you'll save yourself a lot of headaches and re-setup time later.
A quick note: These types of backups are HUGE (or can be, it depends on how many apps you have but even if you only have a few apps they're still pretty big) so unless you have a lot of extra sdcard space you'll need to delete old backups as you go. Personally I generally keep 1 or 2 backups at a time and delete the older ones as I make new ones. The backups are stored in /sdcard/clockworkmod/backups/ or /sdcard-ext/clockworkmod/backups/ depending on where you choose to store them. You get to pick every time you make a backup, either External or Internal. Note: in BSR External will always be the removable sdcard and Internal will always be the internal memory. where as with most ROM's this gets flipped. Meaning in a stock ROM internal memory is /sdcard and the sdcard is /sdcard-ext. Well in most ROMs /sdcard is the removable sdcard and /sdcard-ext is the internal memory. So even though it's flipped in your ROM it NEVER flips in BSR. External will always be the removable card no matter how your ROM is setup.
What is this bootloader I keep hearing about and why should I care that It's locked?
The bootloader is like a BIOS for Android phones. This isn't a perfect analogy but for the purposes here it should suffice. The BIOS is the first thing you see when you turn your computer on, it's what starts basic communication between the software and hardware. It's a tiny, simple OS that your computer can't live with out! It loads before your main OS and it's what allows your OS to take over and start running things. Think of it like the starter motor on your car (the BIOS) and the actual engine (the OS) the engine can't start unless the tiny starter motor helps to get things going first! The bootloader acts in much the same way, controlling things before Android can take over. Devices like Google Experience Devices (the Nexus line of phones) the original Motorola Droid, most (if not all, I'm not sure) Samsung devices, and a few others have what are called unlocked bootloaders, meaning we as users can take control of what the bootloader is going to start for us.
A locked bootloader is, you guessed it, locked down and unable to be told to load something different. This type of bootloader is the most common, you'll find it on HTC, LG, and most other Android devices. Now just because it's locked doesn't mean it can't be unlocked and allow us full access. There are different levels of "lockedness" however. Some bootloaders can be unlocked with a simple command issued, others need to be hacked.
Lastly we have the locked encrypted bootloader, sadly this is where we fall (and generally all Motorola devices except the OG Droid and the XOOM). It's just like the locked bootloader but it's also encrypted, meaning you need a special code to unlock it. No amount of hacks can work around this fully because like we talked about the bootloader is the starter, it's the first thing that happens so there's really no way around it. You either have the passcode or you don't.
The reason an unlocked bootloader is so good is it allows complete access to the entire system. Android is broken down into several levels of architecture, but for simplicity lets just generalize them into 3 main parts. The bootloader, The kernel, and the system. The system is basically your ROM. With an unlocked bootloader we have access to the both the kernel and the system. with a locked bootloader and an encrypted bootloader we only have access to the system IF we have superuser access and only once the phone is booted up. We've touched on what the bootloader is now lets talk about the kernel. Think of the kernel as a brain, or if we want to keep the car analogy going, its kinda like a timing belt. It's responsible for where information is directed to, telling the different parts of the system what each other are doing and coordinating all the efforts. With out being able to change the kernel out because of a locked bootloader we're limited to what we can change in the system, even though we mostly have free reign there. This is the reason it's so important when flashing a ROM that you first flash the right kernel. You couldn't put a timing belt for a Honda Civic on a Dodge Viper, they just don't match up! With a locked encrypted bootloader the ONLY way to change the kernel is with "Official" files. For Motorola users that means SBF files, OTA Updates, or signed update zips (signed as in they have part of that special key that tells the bootloader "hey I'm legitimate, I came from Motorola, go ahead and let me run".)
This is why any ROM thread you come across will tell you something like "MUST BE ON 2.3.4". Now does this mean that I have to sbf to 2.3.4 every time I flash a ROM? NO! Because remember, ONLY OFFICIAL FILES can change the kernel, so flashing a ROM leaves the kernel intact, It only changes the system! So as long as each ROM you flash all require 2.3.4, then you need not do anything as long as that was the last official update you applied. This same rule applies to NANDroid backups as well. Say you make a backup of a ROM that uses the 2.3.4 kernel and it's saved on your sdcard, suddenly the newest ROM uses 2.3.5 so you take the official update and try it out. Well now you're on a 2.3.5 kernel, if you try to restore that backup because you find out you don't like the ROM you'll likely run into problems. Sometimes the problems are small, sometimes they're HUGE. Me personally I don't like any problems what so ever when it comes to my phone. So to keep your life problem free in this situation you'd need to SBF to 2.3.4, root, and THEN you can restore that backup! If our bootloader was unlocked these types of challenges simply wouldn't exist because we could easily package any ROM to INCLUDE the kernel it requires and our backups would INCLUDE the kernel in the backup. So flashing a new ROM would be as easy as wiping everything clean, flashing the ROM and booting it up. Oh I don't like this ROM, NO PROBLEM! Just boot back into Recovery and restore your backup! Alas this simply is not the life of a Motorola user at this time. So always pay attention to what version the ROM says you need to be on and when you see it think "kernel version" because that's really what they're saying.
What is SBF/SBFING and RSDlite?
SBF is a file type, like .doc or .txt except it's .sbf, for our purposes and what the general term is referring to is flashing an sbf file to your phone. What is this sbf file you might ask? Well it's basically the file that Motorola uses to program blank phones at the factory and Verizon uses them to restore returned phones back to stock. For us the advantage of having these files are that if we brick our phone, need to change the kernel version, or just want to return to bone stock, we can easily do so by flashing the sbf file of the version we want to load. When you sbf everything in the system and kernel will be overwritten and returned to an "out of the box" state. That means root is gone, any mods you've done are gone, everything is gone (provided you did a factory reset afterwards, and you usually do because after sbfing you bootloop). It's going to be just like the day you unboxed it and turned it on for the first time.
RSDlite is the Windows program you utilize to flash an sbf file, so you'd have to use a computer to sbf your phone. It's not as hard as it seems at first glance and there is an alternative Linux disc method to do this. Generally the first sbf is the hardest because you feel completely lost. But after doing it once or twice you'll begin to see it's not the complicated thing it once seemed. In fact 99% of the challange is getting everything installed for the first time, after than it's a cinche. The exception is the Linux disc method, here there is nothing to install, no drivers to worry about. There is still a small learning curve of burning an ISO image to a disc. Many people haven't done this and again, this is 99% of the challange of your first time. But once the disc is created properly it's no problem to sbf anywhere you have a computer handy. For futher reading on either of these options please see the links at the begining of the post.
That's all for now, I will come back and edit the OP as I think of things and as I have the time. Also if there is anything you feel I should add or talk about please suggest it, likewise if you have any questions about your X2 or Android in general that you'd like to hear me try to explain feel free to leave a post below!!!
Last edited by juhde; 12-22-2011 at 03:25 AM.
12-20-2011 07:18 PM
Droid X Forums
Nice write up...Stuck
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"FEZ aims to create a non-threatening world rich with ambiance,
a pleasant place to spend time in."
Nice job. Everything you need rite here
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This is only phase one, I'm not even close to being finished
Sent from my Android device.
That was an excellent start - consider it a living document and just update as things change (like one day a long long time from now in a far far away place when we receive an unlocked bootloader...).
Originally Posted by juhde
I'm getting ready to attempt my first custom ROM (Eclipse 2.0.2) so I'm getting ready to read up on Nandroid Backup in greater detail, as well as the SBF process, not to mention making a TiBU backup of apps & data as well. Blackberry was so much easier to wipe and apply a Hybrid OS, but I keep hearing once I learn the process is rather easy. I love my Droid X2 (although the new Nexus Prime, er, Galaxy Nexus keeps calling to me) so making it better by learning these things is my next logical step.
Thanks for the info - most helpful!
This is great, excellent write up!
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. . . . . Motorola Droid X2
. . . . CM7
. . . . Paint it Black IPA|Ehh Hefe! Hefe Weizen
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As a new user, thats a huge help!
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may my first child be a Droidian child!!