So You Want to Root and Mod Your HTC One X/XL
Hey there! I’m guessing you've got yourself a shiny new HTC One X/XL, and you've heard about this thing called "rooting" and how it supposedly can let you do all sorts of things that your carrier won't let you do, or something like that. You arrived here a little while ago from Google or by clicking a link in some blog, and you're now nosing around trying to figure out what you're supposed to do.
But stop! Wait! You've skipped over the most important question: Should you even be here in the first place?
This is not a trivial question. Making modifications to the software on your phone is not like getting your car painted or putting on some new rims or a spoiler. It's much more analogous to replacing the fuel injectors, or modifying the intake, or changing the valve timing. If you don't know what you're doing, there's a very real chance you can render your phone permanently inoperative.
This post is not going to explain how to root, unlock, or do anything else to your phone, because there are already several other threads in the Development section about that (and no, I'm not linking to them—way too soon for that). The purpose of this post is to help you determine whether you should do it at all, and if so, what you need to know beforehand.
We're going to start by taking a short quiz.
1. Which is the most accurate assessment of your comfort level with computers and electronics?
a. I keep the Geek Squad on speed-dial.
b. I generally know what I'm doing, but I'm careful not to get in over my head.
c. I'm the guy my friends and family come to when they have computer problems.
2. What is Linux?
a. It's, um, a computer thing.
b. It's the operating system upon which Android is based, but I had to go to Wikipedia to look that up.
c. chmod 004 linuxfordummies.docx
3. How do you feel when your computer or some other gadget isn't working the way you want it to?
a. It's a royal pain in the ass.
b. It's not the end of the world, but I can do without it.
c. It's an opportunity to learn and problem-solve.
4. Which most accurately characterizes your relationship with your smartphone?
a. Um, relationship? It's a phone—I just need it to work.
b. I like to play around with the settings and find interesting apps.
c. I'm not happy unless I've tweaked and customized it enough that I feel it's a good reflection of who I am as a person. Also, this reflection changes by the week.
5. You're in the middle of trying to solve a particularly frustrating problem with your computer when your spouse/significant other announces that s/he wants to have sex. What do you do?
a. Drop everything and seize the booty.
b. Curse your computer under your breath and head for the bedroom.
c. Reply, "Sorry, honey, can you give me ten more minutes?"
Give yourself 3 points for each "c" answer, 1 point for each "b", and subtract 3 points for each "a". Then total up your score and check the chart below:
13-15: Welcome, brother! You may proceed.
11-12: You'll probably be all right, but be careful. You may be setting yourself up for more frustration than all this is really worth.
10 or less:
, head over to Android Forums
, and don't look back. Trust me, you'll be much better off in the long run.
Okay. Just because you're coming in with the right attitude and background doesn't mean you aren't still going to get yourself in serious trouble. Before going any further, there are several rules you must commit to memory.
1. Do Not Make Any Changes to Your Phone Until You Have a Good Understanding of What You're Doing
You wouldn't go under the hood of your car and start rewiring things and rerouting hoses based on some vague understanding of something you read on the Internet, right? You shouldn't do the same thing to your phone.
This is the reason that “One-Click” and “All-in-One” solutions should be scrupulously avoided, no matter how attractive they may be to you at the moment.
I cannot stress this too much. Using these tools allows you to skip over important learning processes and avoid learning things you really need to know. They make it much easier for you to get into a situation you have no clue how to get out of (and we’ll come back to that below). You’re better off in the long run skipping the one-click tools and taking the time to learn how to do things manually. Basically, you pay cash now, or pay later with interest.
At a minimum, before you do anything, you should be able to explain these three concepts:
-What root access means
-What you're changing when you unlock your bootloader
-What you're replacing when you flash a custom ROM or kernel
How do you find all this out? That's the next point.
2. Become Your Own Expert
You're probably feeling pretty intimidated right now looking at all these discussions throwing around terms, abbreviations, and acronyms that make no sense to you. That's normal—in fact, it's a good sign. If you're not intimidated, you should probably leave now, because you're lacking the sense of caution that will keep you out of trouble.
You're naturally going to be drawn to people who appear to know what they're doing. Be very careful about this. Some do know what they're doing, and some only think
they do. The problem is that it can be very hard to tell them apart. That's why the worst
thing you can do is go into a thread and start asking, "What am I supposed to do here?" before you know enough to be able to weigh the answers you get.
You may get help from someone who knows the answer you're seeking, and you may find someone who's just a recent noob feeling flush with a little new-found expertise. Or, worst of all, you may have the bad luck to run into someone who enjoys tricking noobs into bricking their phones. These folks are thankfully rare, but they do exist.
Ultimately, you've got to do your own learning, not piggyback on someone else's. That leads to our next rule.
3. Google is Your Friend
Yeah, I know, it's a cliché. But it's a cliché because it's true.
Your experiences are not new. Your questions, almost certainly, have been answered before (and in the case of most noob questions, hundreds or thousands of times before). You should start by reading the threads here, but every time you come across a concept or term you're not familiar with, flip to another window and Google it. "How to X" and "What does X mean" are your two most powerful tools. Use them often. (If you're not proficient enough with Google to manage this, you've got no business modding your phone anyway.) Bit by bit, you'll start to feel less lost and start developing the context to understand what people are talking about.
But didn't I just say not to trust what people tell you?
4. Trust the Hivemind
That rule applies individually, not collectively. In fact, gauging collective experiences is an excellent way to see what's what. When a new exploit, ROM, or mod gets posted, there is invariably a flow of responses as people try it out. Pay close attention to these discussions before you do anything.
There are almost always a few bugs and updates to anything new. That alone shouldn't deter you too much. But it's best to wait until you start seeing people posting praise, thanks, and confirmation that their phones are working well before you dip your feet in the water.
But you're still not there yet. Just because other people are having success doesn’t mean you will.
5. Don't Do Anything to Your Phone That You Don't Know How to Undo
Who are all these people rushing to act as guinea pigs? By and large (there are exceptions), these are experienced modders who know how to get themselves out of any trouble they get into. In general, if you know what you're doing, you can take your phone back to stock without too much effort. But reverting some of these changes often depends on doing things in the right order, making backups before you start, and so on.
All of us were noobs once, and most of the people here are willing to help out new users with the right attitude. But few things are more frustrating than someone who jumps on a new mod or rom, and then posts, "That didn't work, I think I’m bricked, OMG what do I do??"
You need to figure that stuff out beforehand
Also, it's worth pointing out that everyone makes mistakes. You're going to make a mistake at some point, probably several. Proper planning and preparation will minimize the fallout when you do.
But—there is another "but" here, and it’s a big one.
6. You May Kill Your Phone
Modding your phone carries a certain risk. Phones get permanently bricked around here on a regular basis, especially when new mods and tools get released. No matter what you do, no matter what precautions you take, there is a possibility you may render your phone permanently unusable, with nothing left to do but return it and hope you can get a replacement (and hope your carrier won't realize what you did).
This risk applies to everyone
. Even experienced devs have been known to brick phones because they forgot a critical step to some routine process.
If you're not comfortable taking that risk, or you can't afford to deal with the consequences, you need to leave. Period. You've been warned. You'll get sympathy (unless you did something stupid and won't own up to it), but don't expect anyone to reimburse you, least of all the dev who posted the tool you were trying to use. It won't happen, and asking will just get you a lot of derision.
Got all that? Good luck, and happy modding.