Getting root access on a Nexus One

Posted in General on December 23rd, 2011 by Friedrich Schäuffelhut – Be the first to comment

I’m the happy owner of a Nexus One, which I purchased a while ago through my Android Developer Account. After nearly a year of abstinence I’d like to get back to some projects I started for rooted android phones (mainly OpenVPN). But to do so I first need get root access which is not to hard to do on the Nexus One. One needs to

  • unlock the bootloader
  • flash a custom recover image
  • make a backup
  • install su via an update.zip file
  • install Superuser app from the market

Unlocking the boot loader will void the warranty. To unlock the boot loader follow the procedure described in the Cyanogenmod wiki: http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/wiki/Nexus_One:_Full_Update_Guide#Unlocking_the_Bootloader. These instructions also describe how to install the fastboot utility, which should also be part of the Android SDK.

Here are the installation instructions step by step:

  1. Download the su binary from AndroidSU.com (su-bin-3.0.3.2-efghi-signed.zip)
  2. Copy the downloaded file to the root directory of your Nexus One sdcard
  3. Install Amon_RA’s Recovery Image (copied from Cyanogenmod wiki)
    1. Download the latest version of Amon_Ra’s Recovery:
      • Amon_Ra’s Recovery 2.2.1: Download, md5: e8262ae23943ce50fd346001812fae79
    2. Boot into bootloader mode by holding down the trackball while turning the device on. You should see a white screen with three skating androids.
    3. Connect the Nexus One to the computer via USB.
    4. On the computer, open terminal and run:
      fastboot flash recovery /path/to/recovery-RA-nexus-v2.1.1-CM.img
    5. Amon_Ra’s Recovery should now be installed on the Nexus One. But it’s removed the first time the phone boots from the stock ROM, so it’s time to install the su binary.
  4. Boot into the recovery image:
    1. Using the volume Up/Down buttons select the menu entry ‘Bootloader’
    2. Push the power button to change into the bootloader menu
    3. Using the volume Up/Down buttons select the menu entry ‘RECOVERY’
    4. Push the power button to boot into the recovery menu
  5. Backup firmware to sdcard
    1. Using the track ball select the menu entry ‘Backup/Restore’
    2. Push the track ball
    3. Using the track ball select the menu entry ‘Nand backup’
    4. Push the track ball
    5. Using the track ball select the menu entry ‘Perform Backup’
    6. Push the track ball
    7. Push the track ball again
    8. Push the volume down key to return to the Backup/Restore menu
    9. Push the volume down key to return to the main menu
  6. Install the su binary
    1. Using the track ball select the menu entry ‘Flash zip from sdcard’
    2. Push the track ball
    3. Using the track ball select the menu entry ‘Choose zip from sdcard’
    4. Push the track ball
    5. Using the track ball select the file you downloaded e.g. ’su-bin-3.0.3.2-efghi-signed.zip’
    6. Push the track ball
    7. Push the track ball again
    8. Push the volume down key to return to the main menu
  7. Reboot into Nexus One firmware
    1. Using the track ball select the menu entry ‘Reboot system now’
    2. Push the track ball
  8. Install the Superuser app, either from the market, or use the bar code provided here: AndroidSU.com

You can test your new root access using the adb utility provided by the android sdk. On the host type the command adb shelland you should get a root shell.

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