Ok, So I’m Rooted. Now What?

Posted: September 14, 2010 in Root
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So you decided that rooting was the path you wanted to take with your phone.  (If you’re still undecided about rooting check out part one of this mini-series, To Root or Not to Root.)  Excellent choice!  Now there’s a whole new world opened up to you with your phone, and so much more you can do to customize, safeguard, upgrade, and just have full control of your device!

There’s really three main categories when it comes to the things you can do with a rooted phone, but trust me they are broad once you start digging into each one.

Rooted Apps
Custom Roms/Leaked Upgrades
Custom Themes

So let’s tackle these one at a time.  Please note I’m going to keep it somewhat simple just to get the idea behind each of these with a few examples, but I’m not going to go into any specifics on how to necessarily load or use anything mentioned in this post.  There will be numerous walk-through’s and how-to’s coming to explain those things in much more detail.

Rooted Apps

The first and easiest thing to start doing right after rooting your phone is to start using some apps that require root access.  A few that come to mind are:

WiFi Tether for Root Users – Free internet tethering for any device that can connect through wifi, without having to pay the monthly fee through Verizon to you their 3g Mobile Hotspot app

DroCap2 – Lets you take a screenshot of your phone’s screen and saves it as a picture file on your SDCard.

Titanium Backup – Lets you backup individual or all of your phones apps along with any related data, allowing you to full restore them to the same exact state if you even needed to recover it down the road.  This is very useful in-case anything would happen that you would need to reset your phone.  It keeps you from having to re-download and setup all of your applications.

SetCPU – Lets you set the speed of the phones processor.  This is where you’ll hear the term overclocking and underclocking used.  Overclocking is setting your processor to faster than what it was shipped with.  Underclocking is for setting it slower than what it was shipped with.

Those are just a few examples of the programs you can find and use once rooted.  To be fair you can find these even when you’re not rooted, and even install them, they just won’t function as they should (or at all really) if you’re not rooted.  It’s as simple as going to the market and downloading and installing any apps you find for rooted phones and you’ll be good to go with them.

Custom Roms/Leaked Upgrades

I combined these into one category because they are basically the same thing when it comes down to it.I’m sure if you have an Android of have been looking at them, at some point you’ve heard someone mention Froyo.  The newest official version of Android from Google.  With that you may have seen some sites saying you could download a leaked copy of Froyo, or the latest updates even before they were made official for your phone through your carrier (hence it’s a leaked copy.) These are (usually) the real deal, and you’ll come to learn a certain following of people you can trust to release these in a somewhat routine manner as they become available.  Most the time it comes as a .ZIP file download that you just copy to your phone and run with a few special button or key presses on your phone. It’s usually a very easy and painless process to install an official leaked update.

Custom Roms on the other hand are far from “official” but at the same time are very valuable to have for any power-user (or regular user for that matter.)  A custom rom is when someone (or a team of people) take the most current official build, and then hack and modify to run smoother, faster, and more stable on your device.  With that, there’s a lot of development that needs to go into these, especially if they’re built from scratch, so there’s a few floating around with some bugs in them, but for the most part there’s a ton of quality roms out there each with their own specializations and tweaks.  Some of the major ones you’ll see are the Cyanogen and BuglessBeast roms.  These actually require less work than a leaked update to install because there is a program called Rom Manager that lets you search for and download custom roms specifically for your phone.  It does the whole process for you.

So basically either of these options will put a new or tweaked out version of Android on your phone.  It would be like going from Windows XP to Windows 7 on your computer.  Or going from Windows XP to a completely streamlined version of Windows XP tailored to fit your needs.  There’s plenty to choose from that there’s bound to be one that is “right” for you. Again we’ll have more specific posts highlighting specific roms and exactly how to install them.

Custom Themes –

These can be a little bit more tricky, but they give you the most customization.  Just like a theme for a Windows PC, a theme for your phone will drastically change the look of your phone but won’t affect the system or how it runs.

A theme can be as simply as changing the notification bar to black, or putting a custom border on any widget, or changing the default system font.  There are full themes however that do all of that in one and then some.  Some go as far as to make their own widgets to fit in with their theme better.  To top that off, a lot of custom roms will have themes specifically for that rom that can be loaded to make it look different while using the under the hood tune up from the custom rom.

Luckily in all of that confusion, these as well can be found in Rom Manager.  I will point out however on some of the newer phones (Droid X, Droid 2, Samsung Galaxy S phones) you’ll find a pretty limited number of options in Rom Manager for roms or themes combined as they’re still new.  Over time you can expect a lot more content to be added for those devices.  You can however find exponentially more content out on the web at various forums between alldroid.org, mydroidworld.com, droidforums.net, droidxforums.com and the forums at droid-life.com.  These’s way too much to even try to list here or anywhere, but we’ll slowly bring you highlights of some of the best along the way.

Lastly, one minor category that isn’t as popular yet is editing config files, specifically ones such as build.prop which controls A LOT of the little features and settings on your phone. Please PLEASE do not touch this file if you don’t know what you’re doing, and more importantly make sure you have a backup of it.  You can’t just get a copy from another phone on this file as it has unique identifiers specific to your phone inside.  So again these files hold the key to all the details of controlling things on your system, like wi-fi time-out settings, the time it takes to put the screen to sleep when put up against your ear on a call, or come to life when pulled away, etc.  But again, this is getting into very risky territory and can cause a lot of late nights and headaches (Sound like I’m speaking from experience? Well I am.)

So I hope that helps clarify the possibilities of what you can do after you would root your phone.  I know there were a lot of teasers in here if you’re ready to take the plunge, but stay tuned and we’ll be getting all the guides up this week with the how-to’s on rooting and where to find and how to install the latest custom roms, themes, and updates for your phones!

Enjoy!

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