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Beginners Guide to flashing a custom ROM on the TF700T

21st March 2014, 08:08 AM   |  #1  
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Last edit: September 25, 2014
The information here can be found in many places on the web and several forums. But when I started flashing custom ROMs about a year ago, I got frustrated many times because I found that information to be scattered, fragmented and in many cases outdated.

I hope this guide will make it a little easier for those users who wish to unleash the potential of this tablet but have no idea where to start. This is meant to be for inexperienced users who may be flashing for the first time.
If you find information I provide here to be incorrect or outdated, please do chime in!

And the standard disclaimer: I am not responsible if you misunderstand instructions I give here, if my instructions are wrong, if you forget to charge the battery and the tablet dies halfway through a flash or if your house goes up in flames.
YOU DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK


First things first:
Backup everything on your tablet you care about to an external microSD or your PC. Don't worry about your apps. You can always install them from the Play Store.
This is just common sense. It is not inherently risky to flash custom ROMs. But something can wrong at any time and you have to be careful. If you are, this is a safe procedure.

Basically the process of flashing a custom ROM on the TF700 involves three steps:
1) Unlock the bootloader using Asus' Unlock tool
2) Install a custom recovery on the tablet
3) Flash a custom ROM of your choice using said custom recovery

Rooting is optional
To install a custom ROM it is not necessary to root the tablet. You do have to unlock the bootloader and install a custom recovery no matter what, but in my opinion rooting is an unnecessary step since any custom ROM you flash will be rooted anyway.

But if you want to root the TF700 on stock firmware there are three ways to go about it:
Up to firmware version 10.6.1.14.8 you could use a tool called Motochopper to root the TF700. Asus plugged the hole Motochopper exploited in the last firmware update.
For firmware version 10.6.1.14.10 there is Kingo Android Root (only works on Windows AFAIK).
There was some controversy around Kingo. Late last year their threads on XDA got closed because they used the vroot method which had a sniffer component that collected information and sent it to servers in China. The developers of Kingo removed vroot and worked it out with XDA. Their threads got re-opened in December. So I believe Kingo is safe to use - but you be the judge of that....
And then there is Towelroot, a one-click-root exploit. It's an apk, so no PC necessary. Only Towelroot v1 works for the TF700. If you can't find it, PM me.


Unlocking the bootloader
Your tablet should be fully charged at this point!
  • Make sure "USB debugging" is checked in Settings > Developer Options (if you don't see it, go to About Tablet and tap 7 times on Build Number)
  • Go to Asus website: ASUSTeK Computer Inc. -Support-
  • Select your device, choose "Android" for OS and look for the "Utilities" on the resulting page.
  • Download the Asus Unlock Tool v8 (I assume you are on JB 4.2 firmware)
  • The tool downloads as a .rar file which is an archive you have to decompress. 7zip is a free and very good Windows tool that will do it for you
  • On your tablet, in Settings > Security check "Unknown Sources"
  • Copy the .apk you extracted from the .rar archive to your tablet.
  • Find the apk in your tablet's file browser, tap it and let it install
  • Open the app and follow the instructions. You will loose your warranty as soon as you click "I agree".

This can be a 5 Minute operation that goes without a hitch or a very frustrating experience with lots of error messages. There is no definite rhyme or reason for this. For some people it works like a charm, for others it works after 15, 25 or 55 attempts, for some never.... This problem is widely discussed on several forums.
To check if you are unlocked, boot the tablet and read the tiny script. It should say:
The device is unlocked.

Installing a custom recovery on your tablet

I highly recommend you choose TWRP as your custom recovery. If you want CWM, you are on your own.
To push TWRP to your tablet you need to set up "Fastboot" between your tablet and your PC. Fastboot is a protocol that enables you low level access to your tablet.

Practice/Background
Power down your tablet and disconnect it from the dock
Push and hold the Volume Down key (left side of the rocker) and the Power key until you feel the tablet vibrate twice. Let go when you see the tiny script. Read it and it tells you that your tablet is now in fastboot mode and you will see three icons (I assume again you are on a JB 4.2 bootloader. In older bootloaders you had 4 icons and had to select the USB icon to get into fastboot mode):

RCK - (which should be flashing) is your recovery (the stock recovery at this point, but once TWRP is installed this is one way to get into it)
Android - is your system, selecting it boots you back to into your ROM.
Wipe Data - stay away! Especially with custom software installed never, ever use this option!
To toggle between the three icons use Volume Down, to select one use Volume Up. Try it but do not push Volume Up when the 'Wipe data' icon is flashing!

Installing ADB and fastboot plus the necessary drivers

For a working ADB/fastboot connection from PC to tablet you need:
a) Asus device drivers if you connect the tablet to your PC and it's recognized as a portable device you should be ok. If not, download the Asus Sync Utility from their support/downloads site and install it to get the drivers, then uninstall the program from your PC if you don't want it. The drivers will stay.
b) Fastboot and ADB drivers which will be installed if you run the tool below.

Windows 7/8:
Download and run this cool little tool [TOOL] [WINDOWS] ADB, Fastboot and Drivers - 15 seconds ADB Installer v1.1 - xda-developers (don't forget to hit the Thanks button)
This is not confirmed to work on Win 8.1, but that may be due to the driver signature verification in Win8. Google how to turn it off.
The tool installs the adb and fastboot.exe to a folder on your C:\ drive (look for adb) and the corresponding drivers. Takes about 15 seconds

Win XP (and all other Win versions if the above does not work for some reason)
I recommend the "ADB Install Tool" mentioned above or the 'Minimal ADB Fastboot Tool': [TOOL]Minimal ADB and Fastboot [7-18-13] - xda-developers
Either works fine.
If you need the drivers, get them here and install manually in Device Manager:[ADB/FB/APX Driver] Universal Naked Driver 0.72 (We dont need no stinking HTC Sync) - xda-developers
Win7 and Win8 users seem to have the best luck wth the drivers sbdags provided here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2646279
It's fine if you want to use his Recovery Install Tool. But I highly recommend you familiarize yourself with basic fastboot commands! There are lots of tuturials all over the web.

Linux:Check out this site https://code.google.com/p/adb-fastboot-install/
iOS:[GUIDE] Set up ADB and Fastboot on a Mac easily (With Screenshots!) - xda-developers or:
http://htc-one.wonderhowto.com/how-t...c-one-0151178/

The fun begins
Fastboot does not play well with USB 3.0, so use a USB 2.0 port for this. And no hubs and such....
  • Boot the tablet into fastboot mode and connect it to your computer via the original USB cable
  • In Windows Explorer navigate to the folder that contains your adb.exe and fastboot.exe
  • Win 7/8: Shift + right click and select "Open command window here".
  • In Win XP select 'Run' from the Start menu, type
    Code:
    cmd
    and hit Enter. In the resulting command prompt type
    Code:
    cd C:\adb\    (or whatever the path to your fastboot folder is..)
    Any OS:
  • In the command window on your PC type:
    Code:
    fastboot devices
  • If that command returns a string of numbers and letters, you are good as gold.
  • If it returns: "No devices found", fastboot is not working - yet - and you have to troubleshoot.
Getting the correct drivers working can be the hardest part of this exercise. If your computer does not "see" the tablet in fastboot, try to uninstall the existing driver (if any) in Device Manager and manually install the Google Universal Naked Drivers.

Let's assume everything is good:
  • On your computer go here: Techerrata Downloads - Browsing tf700t
  • Download TWRP, the latest version is 2.8.0.1. It is ready for KitKat custom roms as well as backward compatible with JB ROMs.

    FYI only: Formatting /data in TWRP 2.7.+ takes a lot longer than in previous versions (up to 90 minutes). LET IT FINISH. DO NOT INTERRUPT THE FORMATTING.
    Formatting data is only necessary in cases of data corruption.

  • Rename the file to twrp.blob and place it into the same directory as your fastboot.exe.
  • Again check the connection with
Code:
fastboot devices
If you get the connection, in the command window type:
Code:
fastboot -i 0x0B05 flash recovery twrp.blob
This will flash the recovery to the recovery partition
If it is successful type:
Code:
fastboot reboot
and let the tablet boot up normally.
Booting back into the (not rooted) stock rom you may get a dialog from TWRP asking you if you want to root.
You can accept or cancel it - doesn't matter. I assume you are going to install a custom rom and they are rooted anyway.


Create a nandroid
Your almost there! You are now on the stock ROM with a custom recovery installed.
Power the tablet down and boot into the bootloader menu with Volume Down and Power buttons.
With RCK flashing, push Volume Up and you should boot into TWRP. Familiarize yourself with the many options of the touch based interface without executing anything yet. TWRP is very user friendly. You basically cannot do anything of consequence "by accident", so don't be shy.

Touch "Backup", leave the default selection as they are and swipe the button to create a nandroid (a backup) of your current system.
This is a very healthy habit to develop: You always want to have a nandroid of your last working system squared away so that you can do a simple restore if you flash something that does not work, or something goes wrong during a flash. With a working recovery and a good nandroid you are minutes away from a working system if you soft brick your tablet.

Installing a custom ROM
From here on out it's as easy as downloading the installation file of your custom ROM, booting into TWRP, choosing "Install" and navigating to the zip of the ROM you want to flash.
If you see a "signed" in the zip file name (best_rom_ever_signed.zip), make sure you check "verify zip signature" under the Install menu. Some devs sign their ROM zips - a better way to ensure file integrity than md5 sum.
Whatever you decide to flash: READ THE OP of the corresponding thread and make sure you have the correct bootloader and the required recovery installed! I can't stress this enough! If you are not sure, DO NOT FLASH!
Look for the ROMs in the Development section of the XDA forum for this tablet: Transformer TF700 Android Development - xda-developers

It is mandatory to do a Factory Wipe in TWRP before installing a custom ROM or going from one ROM base to another (a so called clean install).
If you choose 'Wipe' in TWRP, all you have to do is swipe the button - 'Factory Wipe' is the default selection under the 'Wipe' menu. You will loose your apps, but it will not wipe your /data/media/ folder where your files, pictures, etc live.
If you do this right before flashing the custom ROM, make sure you have the zip file of your custom ROM on your microSD - not on your internal SD where it may get wiped....





Alternative methods to install TWRP

Edit July 25:
In this section I originally explained how to flash TWRP to your device using apps like GooManager (currently not supported anyway), TWRP Manager or Flashify from the Play Store which do it right from your tablet. These apps "save you the trouble" of getting ADB and fastboot set up and working on your PC. These methods still exist and they do work, but I will not recommend or promote them any longer.
Why?
These apps do not check if you have the correct bootloader installed.
They also do not check if you flash a recovery compatible with your tablet.
They make it too easy to do something stupid!
Only use these apps if you know exactly what you are doing!

I have spent quite a few hours helping 3(!) users during the last two days who got themselves into a situation where the only thing they could access on their tablet was recovery, but they did not know anything about adb/fastboot and did not set it up when the tablet was still working. To get it to work with a soft bricked tablet is much, much harder!!
If you are not willing to invest the time to learn the basics about ADB and fastboot (google adb fastboot xda tutorial) and install the necessary drivers on your PC, you should not be flashing anything to your tablet!
GET ADB AND FASTBOOT WORKING!

Sooner or later you will do something stupid (I have done it and so will you) and ADB/fastboot may save your bacon IF you had it working when you didn't really need it.


ROMs for the TF700
CROMi-X is based on the latest Asus firmware (JB 4.2.1) for this tablet with many, many tweaks and improvements, but since there have been no further Asus updates, development on this rom has stopped. This rom would give you the most Asus-like experience on this tablet.
http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2425383
CROMBi-KK is based on CM11 and tweaked for this tablet - best supported ROM ever if you ask me... Very stable and few bugs
http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=2672751
CM is build from the ground up, CM10.x emulating JB 4.3, CM11 emulating KitKat (JB 4.4). CM was not build with a transformer (keyboard) in mind, but the dev has ironed out most of those bugs.
http://forum.xda-developers.com/show....php?t=1957660
ZOMBi-X: From the same team that developed CROMi-X and CROMBi-KK. Based on OMNI rom with multi-window support. It's fairly new, so expect some bugs, but it's very smooth and fast and the support is stellar.
http://forum.xda-developers.com/tran...t/rom-t2857931

There are quite a few more variants, check them out in the XDA Development forum and don't forget to make a nandroid before flashing anything new

Any questions - please ask.

AND IF YOU LIKE YOUR NEW ROM, SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION AND DONATE TO THE DEVELOPER!


Once you installed a custom recovery NEVER EVER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES - AND I REPEAT: NEVER! - use the 'Wipe Data' option from the bootloader menu or the "Factory Reset" option in Settings > Backup&Restore.
In your custom recovery you have the option to wipe, backup and restore every partition on your tablet selectively or collectively. Any wiping, any backup and any restore of the system, data, recovery or boot partitions MUST be done in your recovery (or in fastboot)!
You can safely use Titanium Backup or Asus Backup for apps and settings, but that's it. For everything else use your recovery
.


P.S.: Hit the 'Thanks' button and rate the thread 5 stars if this helped you
Last edited by berndblb; 26th September 2014 at 01:25 AM.
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21st March 2014, 08:47 AM   |  #2  
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21st March 2014, 08:48 AM   |  #3  
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Also mine - you never know.
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21st March 2014, 08:53 AM   |  #4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbdags

@moderator could we sticky this please.

Brilliant post Bernd

Damn -you beat me to post 3! LOL

But thanks - almost everything I know about Android I learned following your lead.
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21st March 2014, 09:11 AM   |  #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by berndblb

Damn -you beat me to post 3! LOL

But thanks - almost everything I know about Android I learned following your lead.

Yes after I posted I wondered if I was jumping the gun.... Maybe a mod can sort it for you? Sorry!

Mod edit: I deleted your previous post to give the third post to OP. I will copy paste it here.

@stamatis could we sticky this please.

Brilliant post Bernd
Last edited by stamatis; 21st March 2014 at 09:43 AM.
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21st March 2014, 09:17 AM   |  #6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sbdags

Yes after I posted I wondered if I was jumping the gun.... Maybe a mod can sort it for you? Sorry!

No problem. You "jumping the gun" is an honor to me.
Thanks
21st March 2014, 09:38 AM   |  #7  
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Well written and very informative post. Thread stuck.
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26th March 2014, 02:31 AM   |  #8  
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Unhappy please help
Yes i am a total noob goober..I want to unlock root and flash my tf700 ..I have watched plenty of youtube vids and read how to do it, enough to where i think i am comfortable. Well I downloaded the file from asus website to unlock the M8 and it wont open on the tablet. It says file not supported. So i tried to download it on my computer and transfer it over, well my computer cant install the drivers for my tablet..urgghh.. So I saw an older article saying it would work if we downloaded the M7 file, Well that downloaded and worked I was able to open and go through the prompts, I signed away and clicked ok.. Yet another error...Which I read might happen, but I tried 20 or so times and still nothing. Am i way over my head in this, It sounds so simple to do...Any help or am i a lost cause?
Thanks
26th March 2014, 03:54 AM   |  #9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blackc3

Yes i am a total noob goober..I want to unlock root and flash my tf700 ..I have watched plenty of youtube vids and read how to do it, enough to where i think i am comfortable. Well I downloaded the file from asus website to unlock the M8 and it wont open on the tablet. It says file not supported.

I think you mean v8, v7 for the Asus Unlock tool?
You have to extract it. On the tablet you can use the app ES File Explorer from the Play Store. It downloads as a .rar file, the result has to be an apk
Quote:

So i tried to download it on my computer and transfer it over, well my computer cant install the drivers for my tablet..urgghh..

You have to get the drivers working - no excuses
Without working drivers you cannot push a recovery to your tablet. What Windows version do you have?
Try installing the Asus PC Sync Utility, try the Google Naked Drivers, try the ones attached to this post (note: I have not tested these myself) - you will have to find the correct combination for your PC yourself.
Here are a few links that may be helpful.
http://www.addictivetips.com/windows...windows-vista/
http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...2670645&page=3
Quote:

So I saw an older article saying it would work if we downloaded the M7 file, Well that downloaded and worked I was able to open and go through the prompts, I signed away and clicked ok.. Yet another error...Which I read might happen, but I tried 20 or so times and still nothing. Am i way over my head in this, It sounds so simple to do...Any help or am i a lost cause?
Thanks

No. You just got started!
Here are a couple of different approaches if you cannot unlock:
http://www.transformerforums.com/for...xperience.html
http://forum.xda-developers.com/show...08&postcount=6
Last edited by berndblb; 26th March 2014 at 04:00 AM.
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26th March 2014, 04:32 AM   |  #10  
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Thanks for the guide,

everything went smooth until this step:
fastboot -i 0x05B0 flash recovery twrp.blob

Now my cmd just hangs there (been like 10 mins), not sure if i should restart tablet or cmd? Tablet still in fastboot screen. Thanks.

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