Development doesn’t always quite feel like development without the custom ROMs. They’re such a pivotal part of our mobile experience that a proper Android experience would be hard to come by without flashing a few first. So if you just happen to be contemplating building your own, XDA-University is a great place to start your journey at.
The How to build an Android ROM guide over at XDA University is a great introductory overview to help you get started. While it doesn’t actually go into the specifics of how to actually create each component that goes into a custom ROM, it provides beginners with a comprehensive yet digestible breakdown of the essential components. These include the:
Each of these components are important to a successful ROM build, and if one of these go awry, your ROM may not boot. So make sure to check out the guide at XDA-University, as well as the wealth of guides in the XDA forums for more instruction and details.
Modifying and theming your Android device are both key tasks to enriching your Android experience, which is probably why members of the XDA community absolutely love modding and theming their devices. Today, we’ll be going over the basics of creating your own mod and theme for your Android device.
To get a good grasp on the fundamentals of modding, it’s recommended to refer to the Zip-based rom tweaking guide found at XDA-U. The guide lists what tools you need, and goes on to break down exactly what each folder of a zip-based rom consist of, and what function of the device each folder is required for. Examples include the all important /System folder where the majority of your operating system is located, as well as /Framework which houses the core system framework apps that act as the ‘system skeleton’. The guide also points out exactly what folder, app and file is safe to change, and what possible modifications and customization can be achieved by doing so. This is especially important as changing, deleting or adding files may, in many cases, brick your device, such as with a bootloop.
The guide also details what you can do with the Update-script file located in META-INF. Using the edify language, the guide defines what the most common update-script commands are and outlines what they do. It then goes on to describe what the boot.img is, and how to create your own flashable zip file.
The introductory guide to basic ROM theming guides you on how to proceed with theming your ROM or device. It is to be stressed that a high level of competence with Photoshop or GIMP is required, especially if you are attempting to craft a complete theme. Getting a grip on how Android styles are defined in the XML format is also necessary, and an external link to a very thorough guide is provided. The next stage is the actual modification of aspects of the system’s graphics, requiring the decompiling and recompiling of system apps with tools such as apktool and AndroidSuite, which in most cases, tend to be SystemUI.apk and framework-res.apk. Again, the guide provides a basic outline of the process with external correlative links to more comprehensive and specific guides. Once this process is done, create a flashable zip with the modified files and flash the file or, if the modified apk is not a system app, sign the apk and flash or push it to the appropriate folder.
Creating your own mod and theme can be quite a complicated process, but with it comes countless possibilities to personalize your device to suite your specific taste. If you are interests, make sure to head over to the respective guides on XDA-University for a more detailed and complete learning experience.
If you would like to contribute to XDA-University or get involved in any sort of way, feel free to contact us.
We’ve previously covered step-by-step guides on how to compile your own kernel from source. Simply compiling some readily available source code though is only half the battle. For there to be any benefit of compiling and flashing your own kernel, you’re going to need to make some modifications. Which particular changes you make is of course entirely up to you, and there are a huge number of improvements that can be made at kernel level to improve the performance of any given device. If you’re at the stage of having compiled your own kernel but are a little unsure of where to go from there, XDA-University has a guide which will be of interest to you.
The tutorial covers the process of adding CPU governors, I/O schedulers and the ability to overclock the device’s CPU to your kernel. These are among some of the more basic modifications that you can make, but they are also some of the most sought after by users. All the required steps are clearly outlined and backed up with easy to follow code examples that will have you modified and ready to compile in no time. You will of course need to be familiar with Github in order to document your changes and remain GPL compliant. If you need a refresher course, be sure to check out this excellent guide to becoming a Git wizard.
Be sure to head on over to XDA Univesity and check this one out if you want to take your own kernel to the next level, as this provides a great jumping off point for further more advanced developments.
Last time, we introduced a couple of beginner-oriented guides at XDA-University. They’re guides that aim to get new users familiar with XDA and Android and hopefully act as stepping stones to things a bit more complicated yet a whole lot more rewarding. Such activities include modifying and tweaking your Android device, installing new and improved custom roms, and incorporating scripts into the device’s operation. Today, we’ll be talking about how to go about such activities, and how to recover from the dreaded bootloop if things go wrong.
If you would like to mod or or tweak your device or install a new rom or script, it’s more than likely that the process involves ‘flashing,’ whereby you load or install the mod, tweak, ROM, and script onto your device through ‘recovery’ or OEM tools. The Android Flashing Guide found at XDA-U does a great job at detailing the different methods, and particularly how to flash roms and kernels with Clockwork Mod Recovery and TeamWin Recovery Project. However, the guide doesn’t cover the installation of mods and tweaks, as they may require additional actions to be perform if the creator says so. This shouldn’t be a problem, as flashing is a pretty universally unchanging action with a process that can be applied to almost any flashable file.
The Android Flashing Guide also breaks down the process of flashing with OEM tools such as Motorola’s RSD Lite and Samsung’s Odin into simple, straight forward steps. Links to downloads of these tools are conveniently provided, as well as steps to troubleshooting if things go unplanned.
Speaking of things going unplanned, if you were to find yourself in a sticky situation where you helplessly witness a continuous loop of your device’s boot sequence, also known as a bootloop, XDA-U has a guide to bootloop recovery. It’s separated into 3 different chapters, each detailing 3 different ways of bootloop recovery:
In the rare occasion that all three methods do not work, it’s probably best to flash a stock rom, which in most cases is not a zip file, and go on your merry way from there.
So there you have it. You now know how to essentially flash mods, tweaks, roms and scripts onto your Android device, and how to recover from a bootloop. These may seem like complicated processes, but once the nerves are calm and after a bit of practice, flashing and bootloops will be a piece of cake. More details can be found in the respective guides at XDA-University, and if there are still any questions left unanswered, you can always query the wealth of guides and ‘how-to’s found in the XDA forums.
If you would like to contribute to XDA-University or get involved in any sort of way, feel free to contact us.
Until next time, happy flashing!
A while back, we introduced XDA-University to the world, an ongoing project that aims to guide your steps in the world of Android development. Featuring a wealth of information, guides, hints, and tips on a variety of topics regarding Android and development, XDA-U serves to help beginners and experienced pros alike, from knowing how to root your first Android device to porting and building your own ROM. Today however, we’re going back to the basics with getting to know XDA and your first Android device.
Now, if you’re starting off as an overwhelmed newcomer on XDA, it’s recommended for you to check out the New Users’ Guide to XDA-Developers to help you get on your feet and start browsing a site as large as XDA. The guide breaks down many activities for which new users visit XDA, such as finding answers to questions and problems, showing appreciation for helpful replies and users in the form of the ‘Thanks’ button, finding the most likely place to get help, and a general explanation to the temporary restrictions placed on new forum users.
The New User’s Guide to Android is up next, with a simple but thorough explanation of all the necessary basics of Android, covering matters ranging from setting up the Google Account and importing contacts to the home launcher and the files systems to APKs and USB Debugging. It serves as a 101 for your mum or dad, friends and colleagues, or even you—anyone who may be starting out with this OS but doesn’t know where exactly to begin. The guide is also conveniently available in eBook and PDF format for those who prefer to view it offline.
So now that you have a grasp of the Android basics and XDA navigation, how do you use the resources found on XDA? What’s a flashable zip? How do you use RSD, Odin and Fastboot? Can you eat a bootloader and what does it taste like? Well, the answers to all your questions can be answered with the guide on using XDA resources. The guide explains what a flashable zip is and how to flash them onto your Android device, what to do with an SBF file with RSD, how to use TAR files, Odin and Fastboot, and what a bootloader tastes like.
Hopefully by now, you may know a little bit more than when you first started. And if you’re looking for help on more the more advanced development, you’re invited to check out more of XDA-University.
December 26, 2012 By: Haroon Q. Raja
XDA forums are full of ROMs of all sorts, and for devices of all types. One can usually find a new version of Android for many of these devices much before the manufacturer pushes its official update—and that’s if they decide to do it at all. Most of these releases come in the form of CyanogenMod or AOKP builds. However, you can’t always find a ROM based on the latest version of Android for some of the less popular devices. Whether it’s that, or you just want to get into ROM development yourself, XDA Senior Member mithun46 has written a brilliantly detailed guide for you at the recently launched XDA-University forum to help you compile CyanogenMod 10, 10.1, and AOKP for practically any device.
The guide walks you through the entire process, starting from setting up the environment on Ubuntu 12.10, installing and configuring all the required software, pulling the source code, making the necessary changes to get it working on your device, and compiling it into an installable build.
So what are you waiting for? Check out the forum thread and start compiling your own ROMs!