A lot of folks have been coming in with newly purchased TF101's lately, which is AWESOME, it means the community will go on longer than the expected life of the device probably, since the TF201 and TF700 have come out and are seeking to replace our beloved TF, this is good news that people still buy the OG Transformer.
That said, there have been the same problems posted by new users, over and over, and sure there are guides for just about everything. But why not one on..just...EVERYTHING?
Here we go, troubleshoot problems and learn your device, the noob way! The EPIC TF101 THREAD BEGINS!
All the typical disclaimers apply, if you mess your stuff up, it is your fault not mine. I did not discover any of these methods, develop any of these tools, or do anything else but compile it all in one epic post. This should be everything you need to know as a noob, I do not take credit for anything, except for making it all easily accessible to those who are unwilling/unable to spend the hours searching that I did. In other words, I did a lot of work for you, but others had done the work for me first. Full credit to them.
What is ROOTING? And why do it?
So you bought a new TF, and you want to root it? Or you want to know what rooting is, for that matter? Rooting is a method of obtaining what is called 'Root Access' to your device, giving you control of it. The 'Root' is the parent directory of your device's internal memory, where the system files are stored. Generally this is kept from your access, you will need to get your device 'rooted' in order to change the system. Once rooted, you will have an app installed called 'Superuser' which will selectively grant applications permission to alter or access your root directory. This method differs on every device, but don't worry- we have a very easy device to root.
VERY IMPORTANT! Do NOT use any of the tools here WHILE YOUR DOCK IS PLUGGED IN!! All these are for use with the TF101 unit BY ITSELF! Please don't brick your device or mess something up by trying it with the dock plugged in!
There have traditionally been several ways to accomplish this for our device, as new applications and tools are developed to make it easier it has gotten to be a very simple process. Which method you use will depend on what SBK version (Secure Boot Key) Transformer you have, and also that model's firmware version. Your firmware version can be located by going to Settings>About Tablet. Current version is 18.104.22.168 (TF101) or 22.214.171.124 (TF101G). When either firmware version (also referred to as the 'stock ROM' sometimes) can be used, it will be listed similar to '8.6.x.19', where x can be 5 or 6 for TF101 or TF101G, respectively.
KNOW YOUR SBK VERSION
As a TF owner looking to mod your device, you need to know that there are multiple SBK versions, primarily SBK1 and SBK2. There may possibly be other versions to come even. All you need to know is, that as of right now, SBK1 is the only model that can utilize a tool called NVFlash to UNBRICK your device if you mess it up too badly, and it is difficult to tell which SBK version you have. In order to find out, there are a few tools out there- one of them is for mac only, called SBKDetect found here
Another is primarily for Linux, but saavy Windows users can always boot from a Linux live CD on their machines to use it, called SBKDetect v2, here;
The other way, if you are like me, and don't have Linux-abilities at the time of this writing (I'm working on that), you can always just GO FOR IT and try to flash a modded ROM via NVFlash. If you are SBK1 it will succeed. If not, it will fail. No harm done. Of course that means skipping ahead of a lot of learning first, so it is not advised IMO. It also means that if you DO have an SBK1 tablet, you just wiped all your data. It is not absolutely necessary to determine which SBK you have in order to root and mod your device.
A hit-or-miss way of detecting your SBK version is by looking at your device's serial number, located on the bottom of the device on a sticker. It will take the form of:
The ONLY digits you need to know are the FIRST THREE. Older models are SBK1. Manufacturing started at Bxx, and has gone to Cxx this year. All Cxx serial numbers will be SBK2. In fact it was in the middle of the B70 manufacturing that they changed the SBK version, so if you are B60, B50, B40 etc..you are sure to be SBK1. If you are B80, B90, C10, etc, you are sure to be SBK2. B70 owners, it's a coin toss. You must use one of the other methods to determine it.
The only thing that differs between SBK1 tablets and SBK2 tablets is the use of NVFlash. SBK2 cannot use NVFlash, so if you end up botching both your recovery and your ROM, and cannot boot into either, then you are SCREWED, so I would suggest reading everything before attempting to mod your device if you are an SBK2 owner.
NVFlash and APX mode
This was an early method used to root and flash recovery/roms, and is still a very useful application to have saved on a disk somewhere in the event that you own an SBK1, as it renders your tablet practically unbrickable. It can be found here;
To use it you must enter APX mode on your TF101. This is tricky and confuses many users. The procedure is;
1. Press and hold volume UP and POWER buttons at the same time (it doesn't matter if the TF101 is on or off, if it is on, simply wait until it shuts off before proceding).
2. HOLD these buttons for approximately SIX SECONDS.
3. Plug TF101 into PC and listen for it to chime that it has detected it, it should load drivers and device will be listed in Right Cick>Computer/Properties/Device Manager/USB Universal Serial Bus Controller (or similar) as NVIDIA, not as ASUS.
4. If it does not, power on the TF and try again until it does.
NOTE: This is the only way to know if it is in APX mode as the screen remains powered off completely.
Once in APX mode now you can use NVFlash tool, place the system, boot, and recovery .img files into the root of the folder you extract NVFlash into and execute the download.bat file. If at any point the flash fails, this likely means you are SBK2.
This stands for Android Debugging Bridge. This is not to be confused with APX mode, which is a separate thing entirely. To learn more about your device's ADB mode, see this excellent thread here;
Another quick guide for ADB can be found here:
(sorry for the off-site link, trying to keep it as xda pure as possible!)
Razorclaw Root Tool
Razorclaw is by far my favorite method of rooting for the TF, it can be found here;
It does not matter what SBK version you have to use Razorclaw, that is why I prefer this method of rooting.. HOWEVER, it does require you to be using an older firmware version though. If you are on version 8.6.x.21 or above, you cannot use razorclaw. It works best on firmware 8.6.x.19. You simply install the app and follow the instructions (Root me nao!). It is a one click, native rooting tool.
If you are not on this firmware version and razorclaw will not work, there are options. You can either roll back your firmware version, the method is located here;
If you are unsuccessful or want to try another way, you can use Nachoroot or ViperMOD.
Nachoroot Root Tool
This is one of the newer root tools, it is for all firmwares and all SBK versions, and can be found here;
Nachoroot uses the ADB (Android Debugging Bridge) via a command prompt or terminal, all necessary drivers must be installed.
I cannot personally get this method to work because my PC will not install the drivers properly, and since I don't need the tool any longer, I must admit I've never used it, thus my bias towards Razorclaw. So, if you are having similar driver issues, rolling back firmware and using RC might be quicker and more painless.
ViperMOD Root Tool
ViperMOD is another method, similar to and related to Nachoroot, in that it uses the PC to root your TF101 and will need the appropriate drivers installed. The main difference being that this method will install Superuser as well. The other major difference is that while Nachoroot is done with a command dialogue, ViperMOD is done with a much simpler command interface (choose a number from a list of options rather than typing out commands). Interestingly enough, both of these methods work on both the TF101 and the TF201, and both methods appeared about the same time (posted on January 4th 2012). ViperMOD and Nachoroot represent the most recent methods for gaining root on the TF101. ViperMOD is unique that it has a feature to unroot your device as well, though you will need to have the stock ROM and recovery files available to completely return to stock. Find out more about ViperMOD here;
I also cannot attest to the use of ViperMOD personally, I have used other methods, but many users have reported it quite simple to root with.
A quick breakdown;
Razorclaw, Nachoroot and ViperMOD will ONLY ROOT your device. No data will be wiped and you will have to install recovery later. In the case of Nachoroot, you will have to download superuser from the market, Razorclaw and ViperMOD installs it for you.
NVFlash WILL WIPE EVERYTHING! So understand that it will rewrite your TF101 internal memory competely and install a rooted ROM (or whatever you tell it to) on your device, as well as a boot and recovery image.
REGARDLESS OF THE ROOTING METHOD YOU CHOOSE, PLEASE READ THAT METHOD'S INSTRUCTIONS VERY CAREFULLY!!!
[Q]How do I know if I am rooted?
[A] Simply check within your app drawer for the superuser application (or download it from the market if using Nachoroot), to verify it works, download titanium backup and begin a batch backup and see if it asks permission, and if the batch completes. If you are not rooted, either try your first method again or try an alternate method.
Tip: Immediately after rooting you should back up your system with Titanium Backup, skip ahead to that section to learn how before moving on.
The stock recovery mode on the TF101 shows one of two screens; a green android in the middle of the screen with gears turning inside it, or the same android with a yellow triangle with an (!) inside it instead. The gears obviously mean it is working (flashing firmware), the (!) means something has gone wrong (no file found, flash failed). To enter recovery mode, you need to press and HOLD Volume DOWN and POWER when the device is powered OFF. As soon as the screen comes on, RELEASE THE POWER BUT HOLD THE VOLUME STILL. You will see white letters appear in the upper left corner of the screen, it is now okay to release the Volume DOWN button and quickly (within 5 seconds) press the Volume UP button to enter recovery mode. There are also applications, such as Reboot to Recovery, available on the market, that will allow you to reboot your device with one click into recovery mode without having to toggle your power/volume buttons.
About Stock Recovery Mode
The stock recovery mode is absolutely required to install official Asus OTA (Over The Air) updates. Unless your device is unrooted with a stock recovery mode, you will not be able to install any OTA updates, this includes ICS!! It can also be used to install (or RE-install if it were) your STOCK ROM (only official, digitally signed files will be accepted by the stock recovery to flash over the firmware, no modded roms will work). The method for doing this is outlined in the link for rolling back your firmware version above but I will summarize;
Recovery mode searches your external SD card ROOT DIRECTORY(and the internal memory's cache directory, but this is not useful for any practical reason for you) for these Asus files. The files must be named either;
XX_user-epad-Z.Z.Z.ZZ.zip (X = firmware region stamp, WW, US, DE, etc, and Z - firmware version, 126.96.36.199, 188.8.131.52 etc)
I personally find the second configuration to work best. If stock recovery finds a file named appropriately and signed with the proper digital signature it will install it, and you will see gears turning. Otherwise; (!). Remember, it has to be on the SD card in the ROOT, not in a folder or it won't find it.
CWM Recovery Mode
ClockWorkMod Recovery mode replaces your stock android recovery mode, and gives you control of;
Flashing (installing) ROMs, recovery, themes and app packs, patches, kernels and more
Wiping cache, dalvik cache, system, data, etc
Backup and Restore features
Advanced features you probably won't need like fixing permissions and mounting partitions etc.
The important thing to know is if you want to be able to change ROMs right from your device, you need this. In order to install it on the TF, you can use an app called RecoveryInstaller, located here;
It is a one-click app just like Razorclaw, download and a single click will install CWM for you, though it may be an older version it will work fine to install the most recent version, directly from CWM once you enter it the first time. You will need to give it superuser permission as well. The newest CWM for the TF101 is called ROGUE XM and it is available here;
Simply place the newest version on your SD card where you can find it, and use the 'install from SD card' option to navigate to the new version file and select it, which will flash the recovery..then you will need to reboot.
CWM Recovery can also be installed when flashing your device from NVFlash, and the NVFlash versions of ROMs almost always contain the most recent versions of the CWM recovery as well, thus making an NVFlash a one-step procedure (flashes both ROM and recovery at same time). The risk of the one-step procedure is if you are using corrupted images or something unexpected occurs you may end up BOTCHING both recovery and ROM at the same time..of course- if you are SBK1 anyways, just reflash it with a different ROM and it will be fixed.
Once you have installed the latest CWM recovery now you will want to start flashing ROMs and Kernels. I will not be posting links to the custom ROMs and Kernels because there are too many of them, that will be your homework.
We are blessed to have some great devs working on our humble TF101. That said, the procedure to flash a ROM through CWM is simple;
1: Download desired ROM and place into your external SD card somewhere you will be able to find it, it doesn't matter.
2: Boot into recovery and go to Backup and Restore and make a backup file. This is commonly referred to as a 'Nandroid' backup, and will backup everything from your ROM to your Kernel to user files.
3: Once backed up, proceed to factory reset and wipe cache partition and dalvik cache, located in the 'advanced' menu.
4: Install from SD card, navigate to your directory and find your ROM (ONLY FLASH THINGS THAT ARE MADE SPECIFICALLY FOR THE TF101! Be sure it is compatible with your device!) and select it, scroll to yes...read and follow instructions. Tapdance and sing ABC's while making some breakfast- and you are done!
5: Reboot device
Please be sure to flash only files that are meant to be flashed via CWM, as some ROMs will also have an NVFlash version, which will not work in CWM.
The Stock ROM currently provided with the TF101 is Android 3.2.1, which is called Honeycomb (HC) which is exclusively for tablets, we are all awaiting the release of Android 4.0 commonly known as Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) which will merge the operating systems used on phones and tablets. Asus has said it will be out soon, so don't ask when it is coming! To learn more about the different Android versions, read this;
I would suggest also to anyone wanting to modify their Android device to understand the history of Android itself and what it is, here;
The kernel is the underbelly, the brain of the ROM. The kernel is what tells the hardware what to do when you interact with the software of the ROM. Most ROMs, I dare say almost every ROM unless specifically noted, does NOT come with it's own kernel but uses the kernel you have installed now on the device, unless it is a stock ROM, in which case most of them DO have kernels included. You want to be sure if what you are flashing has a kernel included or not, and you can always go back to another kernel version if you like, but understand that the OS will behave differently with different kernels. For example, if you wish to enable certain functions at the kernel-level, like overclocking, voodoo sound, etc, then you have to flash a customized kernel.
If you flash a custom kernel, then report your bugs to the developer of the kernel, not the ROM, as most bugs are produced by the kernel.
The procedure to flash a kernel is the same as with flashing a ROM, though you need not factory restore your device before installing, although every developer will agree that it is probably best to have what is called a 'clean install', where you would factory reset the device, flash your ROM, and flash your Kernel, and then restore your apps and information. How do you do that you say?
Titanium Backup is an app that is pretty self explainitory- it backs up all system files, data (this includes contacts, settings, call logs, etc) user apps, basically saves your state ON TOP of your ROM, where as the CWM Backup (commonly called a 'Nandroid') is the FULL ROM, Titanium Backup will only restore your settings and apps ON TOP of the ROM once installed. Therefore, you can backup all apps, safely factory reset. Install a clean ROM and Kernel together and then restore your data on top of them. This keeps your user files from either being accidentally overwritten or otherwise interfering with the installation of the ROM/Kernel whatever else you wish to flash.
IF YOU SKIPPED AHEAD READ THIS
Titanium Backup can be found on the market for free, if you like it, buy the paid version.
To backup and restore, simply press the settings softkey and choose 'batch' and select the appropriate action with caution. Press the 'RUN' button for the action of your choice and you will be prompted with a checklist of apps and data to run the batch on. Select which files you want or select all if it is your first time using the app and confirm the action. You will need to give Titanium Backup Superuser permission and make sure you have 'Unknown Sources' checked as well as 'Debugging Mode' checked in your settings/applications menu.
Ok, now go back to 'Recovery Mode' section and keep reading..
Also understand that if you are moving from a version that you have backed up in which apps will not be useable in the version you are moving to, the will not work either. For example, if you flash an ICS ROM and then save the ICS-only apps with titanium backup, and then try to move back to honeycomb or gingerbread (if you have a phone like I do) these apps will likely not install or if they do will FC (force close) constantly. Similar things can happen with user data, call logs from one dailer might not be compatible with an older version etc, so expect there to be instances where you have to selectively install apps one at a time to see if it causes bugs, testing the device for buggs, and uninstalling the app/data before proceding with your restore if it does.
Return to Stock
EDIT: While the below represents a review of how we used to unroot, I have now learned that merely flashing the stock ROM provided by Asus on their website will flash the recovery as well, and that there is a minor difference between the recovery img that came on the device stock versus the recovery img that comes loaded in the Asus firmware packages. If nothing else, the graphics are different, but I suspect that there could be other changes as well. To best unroot the device, simply watch and follow the video in the link.
So, you played around, and you decided it was time to go back stock for that update, or maybe you just liked it better, or you wanted to give it to your grandma but knew Revolver was above her head- whatever the reason, you want to start fresh. The procedure requires you to get the Stock recovery image and a stock ROM. Luckily the stock ROMs are available on Asus' website, the recovery image isn't as easy to find, it is located here;
(Note: The recovery file is not region-specific, therefore it does not matter what version TF101 you have, it is one of the few 'universal' files for this device.
CAUTION: Unrooting with this procedure will only rewrite your system files on the system partition, if you have files located in your root directory that are user-created files that are not part of the system, these files will remain after unrooting, though you will not be able to view them as they are in the root directory, if you root the device again they will be visible. If selling your device or returning for an exchange and you are unrooting it, make sure to manually delete any files/folders that you created in your root directory and do a factory restore with CWM before flashing over your recovery.
Click HERE to watch my UNROOTING How-to video.
There should also be a distinction made here between unrooting and breaking root access, while breaking root access will prevent you from having root access to your device, it does not return your device to stock. For example, deleting your superuser application and su binary files can 'break your root' as it is referred to. Yet, in order to effectively unroot your device, you should return the device to it's 100% stock configuration. If you are giving the tab to your grandma or little sister, breaking root is probably enough. If you want to return the device or sell it on XDA, you should probably return to stock completely.
Now that you have read all of this (hopefully) here is the shortcut you wished you had;
My HOW TO ROOT video (Part one)