Adventures in Android – Part 1 – Rooting the Motorola Droid

Some of the functions I wanted to use my Motorola Droid for don’t have apps available unless you have root access.  So, I looked into rooting the phone.  This is a relatively easy process.  I watched a few videos and read a few tutorials before I rooted my Droid. The Cyanogenmod Wiki, DroidForums.Net, and the XDA-Developers Forum are especially good for information about rooting your Android device.

However, there was one video that was most helpful.  And, the Cyanogenmod Wiki – Motorola Droid: Full Update Guide was extremely helpful with installing Cyanogenmod 7.  The update files from the video were really helpful with the exception of the installation of SPRecovery.  The SPRecovery file from the video actually caused an error for me that didn’t allow the phone to boot.  However, the SPRecovery SBF file from the Cyanogenmod Wiki fixed the issue for me.

The first issue I ran into after rooting the phone was that the ROM Manager and the Android Market stopped working.  At first I thought I messed something up so I reset the the phone back to factory settings (which basically did nothing except remove all my contacts and the apps that I currently had installed, including ROM Manager).  The Android Market still didn’t work and I couldn’t link up my Google account anymore.  So basically, I had a stock rooted phone with no contacts on it.

When I started searching, I found right away that the Google Applications don’t work on a rooted phone.  Furthermore, the popular Cyanogenmod doesn’t allow you to access the Google Apps either, but there are updates you can install that will give you access to Google Apps.  The Cyanogenmod Wiki – Motorola Droid: Full Update Guide has a link to the Google Apps files.

Another issue I had was when I attempted to install an incorrect ROM and received this error when attempting to install Cyanogenmod in Clockwork Recovery.  I reflashed the phone and that fixed the problem.  After all the abuse my Droid has seen, I’m pretty convinced that you can’t brick it at this point.

My impressions of Cyanogemod 7 on the Motorola Droid: Nice ROM with good features, but too many bugs.  I tried both the version 7 Stable release and the Experimental (which doesn’t appear to be available anymore).  Each had it’s own specific set of bugs.  For instance, the Stable didn’t allow me to write to the SD card after awhile (didn’t seem like anything caused this in particular, except that I added more files to the SD card).  The screen started to freak out and not work right at all after 2 weeks on the Experimental.  I had to reflash in SPRecovery to a stock Froyo ROM to fix the issue.  Peter Alfonso has a nice listing of ROMs for the Motorola Droid on his site.  I just used the latest SBF flash file he had and reflashed my phone.

So, now I’m just running the stock Froyo ROM rooted.  Even though I’m not running a custom ROM at the moment, it’s still worth rooting the phone to run applications like OpenVPN, SSHTunnel, DroidWall, and Titanium Backup.  There are other custom ROMs available, such as MIUI.  And the Cyanogenmod group is always releasing updated versions, so I may try again in the future.  A friend of mine runs the Cyanogenmod nightlies on his Nexus and has not encountered any of the bugs that I had dealt with, so Cyanogenmod will work differently from phone-to-phone depending on the model.

If you end up rooting your phone, make sure to install Superuser immediately.  This will give you the ability to approve applications for root privileges.  Other good applications for security are Lookout Mobile Security and DroidWall.  Enjoy your root!

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