Aug 302013

UPDATE: I no longer have a Droid X, so I cannot provide any further live advice. It’s a great phone and I was delighted to own one; I have since upgraded to a Galaxy S4, which is also a great phone. I can’t answer any questions about “What happens when <x>?” and so on that aren’t already covered by the steps below. If you encounter errors, ensure that your initial conditions are identical to what I outline below, and that you followed all of the steps exactly.

This is as much a reference touchstone for me as it is meant to serve for anyone else trying to do this. The information is out there, but the collective community of folks working on this stuff have made it nigh-impenetrable. Hopefully, this little guide will cut through a lot of that.

This information pertains, specifically, to a Motorola Droid X on Verizon Wireless’s network running (initially) Android 2.3.4 with System version 4.5.621.*.

 The word circulating that rooting this phone isn’t doable, or installing new ROMs isn’t possible, is completely false. What is not false is that the phone has a locked bootloader, meaning you can’t just throw any old bootloader on it you please.

  1. The very first thing you need to do is get ahold of and install Framaroot, which is the key piece of software that actually roots the phone.1 (The link is to version 1.6 and works as of this writing. If it doesn’t, click the superscript to get to the actual development thread and download the latest version.)
    1. To do this, just download the APK and save it somewhere on your phone (your Downloads folder, for example). You can either download it directly on your phone by going to the above link in your phone’s browser, or download it to your computer and then transfer it via USB.
    2. Next, enable installation of apps from untrusted sources. Home Screen > Options button > Applications > Unknown sources
    3. Finally, navigate to the place you saved the APK in your File browser and click on it. If prompted, choose Package Manager to install.
    4. You should now be able to run Framaroot. Do so.
    5. When you run Framaroot, you only have a few options. Superuser and SuperSU are two flavors of the same thing: they let you run applications and commands as root. Some people prefer one over the other, but I haven’t noticed a difference yet. Pick whichever you prefer.
    6. There should be one or more “exploits” listed that will allow you to gain root access. Pick whichever you please (Gimli was listed first for me, so that’s what I went with).
    7. Reboot the phone once it finishes.
    8. Go to the app store and download Root Checker Basic.
    9. Run Root Checker Basic and click the Verify Root Access button.
    10. When an app wants root access, you’ll get a prompt that asks for permission. This will (probably) happen now.
      • Usually, it’s fine to say yes if you know what the app is and expect it to need root access. If you ever get prompted by an app and don’t know why it might be prompting, say no!
    11. If all has gone according to plan, you’ll get a green message saying that your root access has been verified.
  2. Having done that, you can now go out and download a bunch of other nifty things.2
    • ROM Manager is a nifty little thing for managing various ROMs. It comes bundled with Clockwork Mod Recovery (CWM), but you won’t be using this particular bundled version for this process. However, you’ll want to use it to Fix Permissions (see below), so grab it all the same.
    • BusyBox remaps a bunch of internal system commands to more common names. If you’re familiar with Linux at all, these commands will all be familiar to you (ls, awk, cat, grep, etc.). This’ll be useful later. You should run this once and get everything set up. The Basic Install (a step that happens once you run the app) should be fine.
    • Titanium Backup is the real king, though. This program allows you to make backups of every app on the phone and uninstall any app on the phone!
      • You should go to the Options > Batch actions... > Backup all user apps and make a backup of everything, then uninstall anything you don’t want (I’m looking at you, V Cast, Verizon App store, stupid NFL game I never played, and so on).
    • SMS Backup+ backs up all your text messages and call log to GMail. This is somewhat optional, and you may have misgivings about storing all of this with GMail given some of the recent NSA garbage, but that’s all up to you. This takes a while, so hook your power cord in and let it run.
  3. As another precaution, I’d also recommend just flat-out copying all of your phone’s content onto your desktop when it’s mounted as a USB Mass Storage device.
  4. Export your Contacts to create a backup of that, too.
    1. Open up your contacts.
    2. Click the Options button
    3. Choose Import/Export
    4. Select Export to SD Card
  5. The next trick is to get around the locked bootloader. You can’t actually do this; instead, you need to use a “bootstrapper.” For a while, this wasn’t available for Droid X folks that had received the final Verizon update push, but that seems to have changed.
    • Grab the necessary APK from here.3
    • Install the bootstrapper APK the same way you installed the Framaroot APK.
    • Once installed, click the first option Bootstrap Recovery
  6. Download Pooka’s revision of CyanogenMod 7, the last version that works on Droid X. (CyanogenMod is up to version 10.2 now, but the DX won’t support it.)
  7. Also download GAAPS for CyanogenMod 7.1+.
  8. Stuff the zip files somewhere on your SD card’s root directory however you prefer to do so (USB, direct download, etc.).
  9. Open up ROM Manager and run Fix Permissions to ensure everything is readable/writable/etc. as expected.
  10. Take a deep breath.
  11. Run the Droid X Bootstrapper and click Run Recovery.
  12. If all goes well, this will reboot your device into ClockworkMod Recovery.
    • You can navigate with the volume buttons. The camera button selects and the power button goes back.
  13. Select backup and restore.
  14. Select backup. This will take some time.
  15. Select wipe data/factory reset.
  16. Go back to the first screen and select install zip from sdcard.
  17. Select choose zip from sdcard.
  18. Navigate to the place where you put the CyanogenMod zip file and select it.
  19. Scroll down to confirm the selection.
  20. Wait.
  21. If all goes well, you should see install from sdcard complete.
  22. Repeat steps 16-21 for GAAPS.
  23. Go back to the main screen.
  24. Select reboot system now.
  25. Cross your fingers.

If everything worked, you’ll boot into CyanogenMod 7! Go grab Titanium Backup from the Market again and use it to restore any apps you want. Restore your contacts using the same method you used to export them earlier.


  1. Framaroot development thread []
  2. XDA thread on what to do post-root []
  3. RootzWiki thread where this bootstrapper was released []

Living in the future

 Posted by at 03:50  No Responses »
Sep 222012

I am writing this post while lying in bed.

That alone is not especially novel. What’s far more astonishing is that I’m doing so on a device that’s about the size of my hand, by simply sliding my finger across a picture of a keyboard.

On a whim, I decided to have a look at the Android WordPress app. I was curious to see if it would support self-hosted blogs. Obviously, yes. In the span of about two minutes, I had downloaded and configured the app, and now here I am, writing this bit of fluff.

We don’t have the flashy stuff, like flying cars or warp drive, but sometimes little things hit you and force you to realize, “Hey dummy! You’re living in the future!”

Apr 142009

The first particularly intriguing article I stumbled across this morning was about a blind man that sees with sound. He’s managed to teach himself how to “see” by clicking his tongue and using the reflected sound to analyze his environment. I find it astounding that a human being, with no particular biological organ devoted to the geometric interpretation of acoustic data, can do this and, what’s more, that it can even be taught.

The second article, also from New Scientist, deals with diabetes. I don’t have diabetes, nor am I at risk to “get” it, but I find anything dealing with overcoming human ailments through science fascinating. It seems as though a stem cell treatment on trial patients in Brazil has freed most of them from requiring insulin treatments. As one who scoffs at the crowd decrying stem cell research as immoral, that research in the field has produced such promising medical advances is heartening and satisfying.

While we’re rattling down the points-of-interest list, a friend pointed me at an amusing pictorial blog today called This Is Indexed. The general theme of the blog is taking two potentially disparate groups and using them as axes on a graph to depict a humorous correlation. Man, was that a Vulcan/android-esque description or what? Anyway, worth a look.

Creating Characters

 Posted by at 19:25  No Responses »
Apr 282008

Enough with the negative articles. Let’s talk about something more fun. At the heart of every role-playing game is a character, usually several. These characters run the gamut, ranging from simple stereotypes (“Rar, orcish barbarian!”) to deep, complex individuals whose players portray them with such conviction that it rivals some of the best screen or stage performances. On the assumption that such characters are the goal of every role-player, how does one go about creating them?

As with many aspects of role-playing, we can turn to the writer’s craft for advice. Almost any exercise to concoct memorable characters in fiction in which one engages applies to the creation of characters for an RPG. Most of this advice is easy to locate on-line, so I’m not going to go through most of it here (sorry!). What I will do is outline how I came up with one of my own “most memorable” characters. It all starts with thievery.

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