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[GUIDE] Nexus 5 - How to Unlock Bootloader, Install Custom Recovery and Root

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Default [GUIDE] Nexus 5 - How to Unlock Bootloader, Install Custom Recovery and Root


Setup, Preparation and Prerequisites

Basic tasks that I may refer to throughout this guide:
  • Open command prompt - Press Window Key + R, type in "cmd" (without the quotes), and hit enter.
  • Enter the bootloader - Turn the phone off. Hold volume down + power. The bootloader is also known as fastboot mode.

ADB and Fastboot Installation
  1. Download the full Android SDK here (scroll to the bottom of the page>DOWNLOAD FOR OTHER PLATFORMS>SDK Tools Only) or get a slimmed version containing only the essential components here (Thanks @El Daddy)
  2. Extract the zip and place the android-sdk-windows folder on your desktop.
    **If you chose to download the slimmed sdk skip to step 5**
  3. Only if you downloaded the full sdk: Go into the android-sdk-windows folder and run SDK Manager.exe. Install the following packages (there are a total of 4 packages):
    - Tools > Android SDK Tools, Android SDK Platform-tools
    - Extras > Android Support Library, Google USB Driver

  4. Only if you downloaded the full sdk: Go back into the android-sdk-windows directory, and you should see a new folder named platform-tools. If you don't see this new folder, repeat the step above.
  5. To confirm that it is indeed working, open a command prompt window and enter the following commands:
    Code:
    cd Desktop/android-sdk-windows/platform-tools
    adb version
    If it displays "Android Debug Bridge version x.x.xx" it is working. If it is gives an error saying that adb is not a recognized command, it has not been successful. Carefully repeat the steps above if this is the case. Close the command prompt window when you are done.
  • USB Debugging - On your phone go to Settings > About phone > Tap on Build number 7 times. This will enable Developer options. Now go back to Settings > Developer options > Enable USB debugging
  • Show File Extensions - Open a command prompt window and run "Control folders" (without the quotes). Go to the View tab and uncheck the "Hide extensions for known file types" option. This will help avoid confusion when renaming files.
  • Battery - Ensure that your phone has at least 60% battery remaining, and that your PC is plugged in and wont shut down spontaneously during the process.
  • Backup (Optional) - Unlocking the bootloader will completely wipe all data from the device. This includes apps, settings and even the contents of the internal sdcard (pictures, music, etc.). Copy all important files off the phone onto a PC or upload them to a cloud.
  • Driver Installation - Try this first, but if that doesn't work look here. Still having issues? Give this a try. None of these working? Hopefully this does the trick.



Downloads
Download a custom recovery of your choice and the SuperSU zip below. Place both files (recovery image and root zip) in the platform-tools folder located on your desktop within the android-sdk-windows folder.

Custom Recovery:
TeamWin Recovery Project (TWRP) or ClockworkMod (CWM)

Root:
SuperSU

Information
Rooting a nexus device is actually quite a simple and easy process. Before you begin, it is recommended that you at least try to understand what each part of the process will do. Although this guide will elongate each step in order to show all of the details, the method used can be broken up into 3 main steps: Unlocking the Bootloader, Installing a Custom Recovery and finally Rooting. Each new step relies on the previous step to have been completed, and a basic summary of each part is:
  1. Unlocking Bootloader: Opens the door to the internal memory of the device to be written on to. This allows you to flash images onto the main partitions of the phone.
  2. Installing a Custom Recovery: A custom recovery is flashed onto the recovery partition of the device and overwrites the stock recovery that exists by default. Custom recoveries bring lots of functionality and give you the ability to perform wipes, install flashable zips, create full backups of your NAND (Nandroid backup), and various other features. An unlocked bootloader is needed to install a custom recovery.
  3. Rooting: You can gain root by either flashing via recovery a pre rooted custom rom, or flashing a zip containing the SuperSU binaries. A custom recovery is necessary to do this.

After completing these steps your phone will be rooted, the phone will have a custom recovery installed, and the phones bootloader will be unlocked. This, in my opinion, is the most practical and beneficial method for rooting your phone. It gives you some basic adb/fastboot knowledge, and should hopefully help you have a decent understanding of what is going on. Also this method will work regardless of what android version your phone has. Using a toolkit will only make things worse in the long run...learn to do it properly. It has been proven that every time you use a toolkit, god kills a kitten. Save the kittens.

If you are confused by anything in this guide, I would highly suggest getting it clarified being before moving on. Ask your question in this thread and I or someone else will likely answer. Also I'd suggest that you read over the whole thread a few times before actually doing anything to the phone.

Understand? Good...lets begin:

1. Unlocking Bootloader
  • Turn the phone off. Then boot it into the bootloader/fastboot mode by holding volume down + power.

  • Plug the phone into your PC, then open a command prompt window window and type:
    Code:
    cd Desktop/android-sdk-windows/platform-tools
    Code:
    fastboot devices
    This command will list the connected devices. If your phones serial number shows up you are good to go and may continue. If the phone is NOT listed this indicates that your drivers are not installed correctly. In order for you to continue you must fix your drivers so that your phone is listed under fastboot devices.

  • If the phone has been recognized by the command above, proceed to unlocking the bootloader with the following command:
    Remember that this step will wipe EVERYTHING off the phone
    Code:
    fastboot oem unlock
    On the phone a screen should pop up asking whether or not you would like to unlock the bootloader. Use the volume rockers to highlight "Yes" then press power to confirm the action.

  • After the above command has finished excuting, run the following (DO NOT skip this step, it is more important than you think):
    Code:
    fastboot reboot
    The phone will reboot. Next you will be presented with a screen containing an android logo and a progress bar (this may take up to ten minutes to complete). Wait until the phone has fully booted up into android, then proceed onto the next section of the guide.

  • Close the command prompt window.


2. Installing a Custom Recovery
  • Turn the phone off. Then boot it into the bootloader/fastboot mode by holding volume down + power.

  • Rename the recovery file that you downloaded above to recovery.img. *Make sure that you rename it to recovery.img NOT recovery.img.img* Remember that you should place the file in the platform-tools folder inside of the android-sdk-windows folder on your desktop.

  • Open command prompt and run the following commands:
    Code:
    cd Desktop/android-sdk-windows/platform-tools
    Code:
    fastboot flash recovery recovery.img
  • On the phone, use the volume buttons to scroll onto "Restart Bootloader" and hit power to select it. After the bootloader reloads, use the volume buttons to scroll onto "Recovery Mode" and power to select it. You should then be greeted with your newly installed custom recovery.
  • Close the command prompt window.

3. Rooting
Now that your phone has an unlocked bootloader and a custom recovery installed you have a two options to gain root (Pick one or the other. You don't need to do both)

Option A) Flash SuperSU binaries which will give you root with the stock rom
  • Confirm that you have downloaded the SuperSU zip from the downloads section above and that it is located in the platform-tools folder inside of the android-sdk-windows folder on your desktop.
  • Turn the phone off then boot into the bootloader. (volume down + power). Once in the bootloader use the volume rockers to scroll onto Recovery Mode, then press power to select it. This should bring you into your newly installed custom recovery. Leave the phone at the home page of the custom recovery.
  • Open a command prompt window and run the following commands:
    Code:
    cd Desktop/android-sdk-windows/platform-tools
    Code:
    adb push UPDATE-SuperSU-vX.XX.zip /sdcard/
    This will copy the SuperSU zip onto your phone. Once the command has completed continue.

    Instructions for TeamWin Recovery Project (TWRP):
  • Install > browse to SuperSU zip and select the it
  • Swipe to confirm the installation. Then reboot.


    Instructions for ClockworkMod (CWM):
  • install zip from sdcard > choose zip from sdcard.
  • Next, browse to the location where you previously copied the SuperSU zip and select the it.
  • To confirm the installation, scroll down to "Yes" and select it. The installation shouldn't take very long, and once it has completed you may reboot.

Option B) Flash a custom rom which will come pre-rooted
  • Note that not all custom roms will be pre rooted, however the majority of them are. Read the OP of the ROM thread to see what the verdict is.
  • Copy a custom rom (you can find these in the Nexus 5 Android Development and Nexus 5 Original Android Development section) onto the phone (remember the location where you copy it to)
  • Turn the phone off then boot into the bootloader. (volume down + power). Once in the bootloader use the volume rockers to scroll onto Recovery Mode, then press power to select it. This should bring you into your newly installed custom recovery. To install a custom rom the general procedure to follow is: factory reset, wipe cache + dalvik cache, flash ROM, flash GApps. Here are the recovery specific instructions:


    Instructions for TeamWin Recovery Project (TWRP):
  • Wipe > Swipe to Factory Reset
  • Install > browse to the location where you previously copied the ROM zip and select it > Swipe to confirm the installation
  • Install GApps using same process as ROM, then reboot.


    Instructions for ClockworkMod (CWM):
  • wipe data/factory reset
  • wipe cache partition
  • advanced > wipe dalvik cache
  • install zip from sdcard > choose zip from sdcard > navigate to the location of the rom > select the rom > confirm the installation by selecting "Yes"
  • After that you may install the GApps using the same method for flashing the rom, and finally reboot the phone.

Keep in mind that the first boot after installing a custom rom & wiping the phone may take longer than usual, as the phone will need to rebuild the dalvik cache and initialize other first boot stuff.

Congrats! That is all! Your phone now has an unlocked bootloader, a custom recovery installed and is rooted...Plus you saved a kitten. Enjoy
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Troubleshooting & FAQ

Why am I seeing a red triangle with a dead android when booting into recovery even after I flashed a custom recovery?
What you are seeing is the stock recovery, meaning that the custom recovery that you flashed did not install correctly. Try the following suggestions:
  • Make sure you are using the USB cable that came with your phone. Only use other ones, if the stock one isn't working
  • Try using different USB ports. USB 2.0 ports (the ones that ARE NOT blue) are preferable. USB 3.0 ports (the blue ones) may cause problems with connectivity.
  • If you are on a desktop, use the ports on the back of the tower instead of the ones in the front. These ports are directly connected to the motherboard, rather than the ones in the front which are usually attached to a header cable which then indirectly connects to the motherboard.

My phone wont boot into android. I can only access the bootloader and custom recovery. What do I do?
Suggestion 1: Factory reset via recovery.

TWRP Instructions:
  • Boot into recovery
  • Wipe > Swipe to Factory Reset
  • Reboot

CWM Instructions:
  • Boot into recovery
  • wipe data/factory reset
  • wipe cache partition
  • advanced > wipe dalvik cache
  • Reboot

If that doesn't work continue onto Suggestion 2.

Suggestion 2: Push a ROM to your phone and flash it.
  • Download a ROM onto your computer. If you don't have time to look for a ROM, just download the stock ROM.
  • Move the downloaded ROM onto your desktop, and rename the file to "ROM.zip" (without the quotation marks)
  • Boot phone into recovery
  • Open command prompt and run the following commands:
  • Code:
    cd Desktop
    adb push ROM.zip /sdcard/
  • Wait for it to finish copying the file, then flash the ROM. If you need further details on how to flash a ROM take a look at the OP, section 3. Rooting, Option B)

If that doesn't work continue onto Suggestion 3.

Suggestion 3: Flash the factory images.
My phone wont boot into android. I can only access the bootloader. What do I do?
Flash the factory images

My phone exploded. What do I do?
Tape it back together then flash the factory images
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dombera
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Awesome post. Got a question: if I ONLY unlock bootloader will I still be able to get and install OTA updates?

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dombera View Post
Awesome post. Got a question: if I ONLY unlock bootloader will I still be able to get and install OTA updates?

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
Yes, if you only unlock the bootloader you will still be able to get ota's. The lock state of your bootloader will not affect your ability to receive ota's.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chromium_ View Post
Yes, if you only unlock the bootloader you will still be able to get ota's. The lock state of your bootloader will not affect your ability to receive ota's.
Awesome, thx

Sent from my Nexus 4 using Tapatalk
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This is awesome, will come in handy.

Sent from my HTC Desire using XDA Premium 4 mobile app
[DEVICE] Nexus 5
[ROM] [4.4.2] [OFFICIAL] ParanoidAndroid 4.1
[KERNEL] [GPL] [N5] franco.Kernel
[RECOVERY] TWRP 2.7.0.0 touch recovery
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chromium_ View Post
Yes, if you only unlock the bootloader you will still be able to get ota's. The lock state of your bootloader will not affect your ability to receive ota's.
What about if you unlock the boot loader and root, will you be able to get OTAs then? I guess a better question is what's the point of no return (without reflashing the factory image) where you break OTA updates? Thanks for the thread btw!
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Can people please post confirmation of TWRP or CWM recoveries + rooting working without problems if they've done it? I know it's unofficially supported at this time, but getting some data collected would be useful.

---------- Post added at 01:43 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:41 AM ----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xero258 View Post
What about if you unlock the boot loader and root, will you be able to get OTAs then? I guess a better question is what's the point of no return (without reflashing the factory image) where you break OTA updates? Thanks for the thread btw!
If you unlock bootloader & root, and modify some system files, OTAs may not be able to pass some pre-install checks, at least this has happened to me on N4 before. I added one line to /etc/build.prop, also one of the older SuperSU versions had to be uninstalled for pre-install OTA checks to pass.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Whyzor View Post
Can people please post confirmation of TWRP or CWM recoveries + rooting working without problems if they've done it? I know it's unofficially supported at this time, but getting some data collected would be useful.[COLOR="Silver"]

There isn't *yet* a booting custom recovery for the Nexus 5. Give it a couple of days.
 
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I see some Desire folks
Did u order one chromium?

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