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Android System Update, Image or ROM - Tutorial 1 Introduction

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Stock ROM? Custom ROM? What? Where? How?Why??

There are plenty of articles about how to install or update the newest or coolest custom or official ROM on your phone. You follow some instructions but do you really know what is happening and what is being installed on your device. You may ask ‘Why do I need to know that?’. Well there are several good reasons :

1) You may want to know what is included in this installation. For example do you leave unknown people at the place where you live and do not care who they are or what they intend to do? I personally do care about my home and my phone and I do make a big check for intruders :)

2) You may want to change your custom ROM and make it fancy, personalized or just put your logo at start-up to show off at school 8)

3) you are a gig and you wanna boost your device’s performance.

4) you just like to play around :)

So you at the right spot. In the next days I will write several articles about Android system, updates and custom ROMs and this is the first one:



What is Android image? – a set of archived files to be ‘flashed’ into a specific ‘partition’

What is Android Update? – a set of files and images to installed/flashed on the device. This also contains instructions how,what and where to update. An update may just add/delete files, run process to perform some action, include a patch to update existing applications or update the whole system with its properties. All this is contained in a zip file.

What is Android ROM? – ‘ROM’ is usually wrongly used and it is meaning the update that will be flashed/installed into the ROM(the device flash memory). This update includes all the files needed for a system to run.

There age generally 2 kind of ROMs:

-Stock ROM: official system image provided by the manufacturer, carrier or Google.

-Custom ROM: any other modified system image.

Then naturally it comes to mind

Why… I need a Custom ROM and why should I care about the Stock ROM isn’t it automatically updated?

Lets start with the Stock ROM. This you will have installed when you buy your device. They also may be updated from the carrier or the manufacturer or Google for that matter. The thing is that you may have a device which get’s a stock update but none for you although you use the exact same device. This might be because of you carrier that wants to tweak the new Android build and then send you the update. This for example happened with the Nexus S Android ICS update, but is this fair? Why should you wait?

According to me the answer is NO and this why you should know about installing ROMs manually.

(Note that technically if you did not receive an update on your Nexus for example it won’t be exactly stock, however this can be a stock ROM for another Nexus device exactly the same as yours, so I think it is stock and safe enough :)

As regards to the custom ROMs there are many reasons why to install them and many different ROMs to satisfy many tastes. After reading the full tutorial you will be also capable of creating one yourself 8)

Custom roms may: (good)

- Provide the newest Android build before most stock updates

- Provide bug fixes before most stock updates

- Add extra features to the official system

- Improve speed and stability

- Remove unneeded apps pre-installed by the carrier or manufacturer

- Update the linux kernel for any specific needs

Basically you can do anything you want and need.

This fact however brings also some potential downsides:

- Manual installation is not that easy and may damage your device (although this is very hard, if you bricked your device and cannot fix it let me know and I may help).

- You may need to erase your data and apps before installing your ROM but this is sometimes the case even with a major stock release.

- You may void your warranty, however in most of the cases if you took a backup you can recover to the original ROM.

- The new ROM may have bugs

- The new ROM may intentionally damage your device, steal private data or make unauthorised calls or send messages.


Finally the resolution is simple:

It is good to explore but you have to be prepared and well informed. This is why the last part of this tutorial will be ‘How to find and install a new ROM’, because you should know before that what you are doing (not that you cannot read another article :)

Coming up next: ROM image dissection – What exactly is inside the zip?

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