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[GUIDE] Modify your System partition WITHOUT Root

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By denk, Member on 4th November 2015, 10:39 AM
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Intro

This is a guide for people who want to make some modifications to config files, or other files, on System partition but do not want to root their phone or install custom recovery in order to keep OTAs and some apps, which don't play nicely with rooted phones, working. Examples of those config mods could be changing DPI or changing volume levels etc, which you would only do once and forget about it.

While root allows you to do those kinds of changes from within android, this methods would require a PC.

If you are familiar with temporary booting into a custom recovery, skip to step 5.

The usual i am not responsible for any of your actions / bricked phones disclaimer applies.


Prerequisites

- A working adb / fastboot environment. Please use Android SDK, if you installed your adb and fastboot using other tools, things might not work, so please just install SDK, install Google USB Driver from SDK manager, install Platform-Tools from SDK manager (should be installed by default) and then add your sdk platform-tools path to your PATH environment variable to have it available in cmd in every path.
- Unlocked bootloader
- TWRP image for you phone (.img) https://twrp.me/devices/huaweinexus6p.html

Follow the [GUIDE] Unlock/Root/Flash for Nexus 6P for that.


Instructions

Here is an example of modifying DPI. I prefer build.prop method of modifying DPI because using the adb wm density command usually caused some issues for me, but modifying via build.prop didn't.

1 - With you phone ON, connect it to the PC and make sure adb is working by running
Code:
adb devices
and making sure that device is listed

2 - Reboot into bootloader. and make sure fastboot is good to go too. Run commands one at a time:
Code:
adb reboot bootloader
fastboot devices
3 - Place your TWRP image file in some easily accessible folder, for the sake of this example i will use C:\Mods.

4 - Temporary boot into TWRP (we are not flashing it here at all).
Code:
fastboot boot c:\Mods\twrp-2.8.7.0-angler.img
Here is where things may not work. If you don't see your phone boot into TWRP then either your adb / fastboot environment not setup correctly (installed via a tool instead of SDK) or your img file is corrupt.
One thing that works for me when TWRP refuses to boot is to restart cmd and issue the command again this closes and reopens adb/fastboot daemon.

5 - Once TWRP is up on your phone it may display a warning saying "TWRP has detected an unmounted system partition". Swipe to allow modifications at the bottom. This screen may not come up at all.
6 - Go to Mount >>> Tick System >>> Make sure "Only Mount System Read Only" is unticked >>> Press Back button
7 - Back on your PC check if your device is listed
Code:
adb devices
8 - Pull the file you need to modify from system partition to your PC. Please note the direction of the slashes:
Code:
adb pull /system/build.prop c:/Mods
9 - Now you should see build.prop in your c:\Mods folder. Use Notepad++ or something like that to edit the file. Find the line with lcd_density= and change it's value to whatever you need and save the file.

10 - Push the file back to your phone:
Code:
adb push c:/Mods/build.prop /system
11 - Reboot
Code:
adb reboot
12 - Profit.

Hope this will help anyone who is looking to do some mods without installing custom recovery and rooting your phone.

Cheers.
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4th November 2015, 06:54 PM |#2  
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Would this work for adding the tethering bypass line in the build prop?
4th November 2015, 07:55 PM |#3  
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Yes it will. What's the line again I was looking for it the other day and couldn't find it...
4th November 2015, 08:01 PM |#4  
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Works are per OP's original post, tested and boosted the headphone volume without a problem.

Headphone path is /system/etc/mixer_paths.xml

So as per OP's example to pull: adb pull /system/etc/mixer_paths.xml c:/Mods

push: adb push c:/Mods/mixer_paths.xml /system/etc

I'm using the OP's "Mods" folder to demonstrate the file path but this may vary on your PC.
4th November 2015, 08:03 PM |#5  
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Can I use this to push SuperSU / etc to my device without having to permanently flash TWRP?
4th November 2015, 08:05 PM |#6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skrowl

Can I use this to push SuperSU / etc to my device without having to permanently flash TWRP?

You can certainly push the files to system partition and they will retain there after reboot. So if you know which files have to be pushed for SuperSU then give that a go. It shouldn't break anything.

I haven't tried pushing SuperSU files to system partition before so I can't guarantee that OTAs will work after this. The only way to find out is to try it i guess...
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4th November 2015, 11:32 PM |#7  
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Can you run nandroids?
4th November 2015, 11:52 PM |#8  
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not sure if it's allowed or not.. but with this can i push hosts file onto the phone as well for ad-blocking...?????
5th November 2015, 01:03 AM |#9  
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I will say thanks now and try it later. These are the type of tweaks I would like to make to my phone. Do you know if changing the DPI cause any stock applications to show up broken like they do on the Samsung phones?
5th November 2015, 02:20 AM |#10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NCguy

Can you run nandroids?

Im not sure what you mean?
5th November 2015, 02:22 AM |#11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rohit25

not sure if it's allowed or not.. but with this can i push hosts file onto the phone as well for ad-blocking...?????

If it's on the system partition then I yes you can.
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