The ultimate guide to rooting, jailbreaking, and homebrewing your devices: Android, iOS, Windows RT, and WebOS [Updated 2/4/2013]February 4, 2013 76 Email article | Print article
Is your phone feeling a bit boring? Does your tablet need more customization? Sometimes, your devices don’t feel personal enough. Other times, it can be bogged down by needless bloatware and other cruft. Free it with one of several free tools for iOS and Android!
Jailbreaking, on iOS devices, allows you to install apps, tweaks, and themes that Apple hasn’t approved. You can add a fifth (or sixth, or seventh) icon to your dock; you can make the entire system bright red. Although Apple tries hard to not let people jailbreak, the worst they can do is void your warranty; and rest assured, Apple will void your warranty if you jailbreak. (Jailbreaking is 100% legal, although pirating apps is not!)
Rooting, which is for Android devices, allows you to modify crucial system files that would otherwise be locked away. This lets you do things like block ads, remove/freeze bloatware, use a firewall, and much more. Due to the
thousands dozens of devices available, there are dozens and dozens of rooting methods; however, there are also some rooters that are fairly universal. Take note although rooting is 100% legal, it may void your warranty.
Disclaimer: Please proceed with caution. Although the art of rooting, jailbreaking, and homebrewing has been been turned into a science (all three are fairly safe to do), all after-market software modifications have the risk of bricking your device. By proceeding below and rooting/jailbreaking/homebrewing your device, you recognize and accept the risks of these processes. Locutus, Ashraf, dotTech and anyone else except yourself are not responsible for any gain, loss, or harm done to you, your device, or your data.
If you brick your device and come whine here, Ashraf will probably laugh at you.
Table of Contents
- Android rooting:
- iOS jailbreaking:
- Windows RT jailbreaking:
- WebOS homebrewing:
Do you like HTC’s Sense skin? What about Motoblur? More like Motoblah! By rooting your Android device, you can get more customizability along with more apps.
Android is a unique beast among mobile OSes. Unlike iOS or WebOS, which are made exclusively by one company and only have a few software releases, Android has
thousands dozens (maybe hundreds) of devices and many different software versions. As such, it is extremely difficult to make one rooting program work on all devices. However some programs, like SuperOneClick, have managed to get fairly close to the end goal of a universal rooting program, and some others, like z4root, even allow rooting from the comfort of your hand (no computer required).
Have Android 2.2 Froyo or below? That means you can root your phone, from the convenient location of your phone! All you’ll need is a small bit of time. No computer is required. (If you have above Android 2.2, skip down below to SuperOneClick or device-specific rooting.)
First, you’ll need to make sure that non-Market app installs are allowed; this is called sideloading apps. To do this, go to Menu > Settings > Applications and check “Unknown Sources”. (If it’s greyed out, that means that your carrier has decided to be mean and block sideloading. To remove this restriction, try rooting with SuperOneClick or device-specific rooting below.)
Now that your phone allows sideloading, download z4root onto your phone. Once it has been downloaded, use a file manager to navigate to the APK installer (it will probably be in the download folder) and install z4root. After it is installed, launch z4root from your app tray open it up from your launcher:
Once z4root has been launched, you are half-way finished. Now all you have to do is decide if you want a permanent root, or just a root until you reboot your phone (temporary root). If you want a permanent root, be aware that it won’t work on every phone (try SuperOneClick or device-specific rooting if z4root doesn’t work for you).
Once you select what type of root you want, just follow on-screen instructions and you will be rooted within minutes. You know you are rooted if you have a “SuperUser” app in your app tray. You may have to reboot your device for this to appear. If the “SuperUser” app appears, congrats! Your Android 2.2 phone is now rooted.
Te following is the list of known phones compatible/incompatible with the permanent root:
(Click on the list to view it in full size.)
If your phone is not in the list shown above, it may or may not be compatible with z4root. The only way to find out is try it out. If your phone is on the incompatible list, you can only use the temporary root option.
Rooting with SuperOneClick is a fairly easy affair, but requires a bit of setup first. The first thing you need to do is make sure your device will work with SuperOneClick. SuperOneClick only works for devices on Android Gingerbread (2.3.x) and lower. See device-specific rooting if your device is not compatible with SuperOneClick.
It is most likely compatible if it is not one of these (the following are incompatible devices)
- Sprint EVO 4G (HTC Supersonic)
- Droid Incredible (HTC Incredible)
- HTC Desire GSM
- HTC Desire CDMA (HTC BravoC)
- HTC Aria
- Droid Eris (HTC DesireC)
- HTC Wildfire (HTC Buzz)
These phones have locked NAND chips. In order to remove this lock, you must use unrevoked, a NAND unlocker.
So far the known phones that are compatible with SuperOneClick are:
- Acer Liquid Metal
- Dell Streak
- HTC Magic (Sapphire) 32B
- HTC Bee
- LG Ally
- Motorola Atrix 4G
- Motorola Charm
- Motorola Cliq
- Motorola Droid
- Motorola Flipside
- Motorola Flipout
- Motorola Milestone
- Nexus One
- Samsung Captivate
- Samsung Galaxy 551 (GT-I5510)
- Samsung Galaxy Portal/Spica I5700
- Samsung Galaxy S 4G
- Samsung Galaxy S I9000
- Samsung Galaxy S SCH-I500
- Samsung Galaxy Tab
- Samsung Transform M920
- Samsung Vibrant
- Sony Ericsson Xperia E51i X8
- Sony Ericsson Xperia X10
- Sprint Hero
- Telus Fascinate
- Toshiba Folio 100
The key thing to note is just because your phone is not on the above list does not mean SuperOneClick won’t work with your phone. As long as your phone is not listed on the incompatible list (first list shown above), then your phone may still work with SuperOneClick. The only way you will know for sure is to give it a try; if you are on Android 2.3 Gingerbread or lower, SuperOneClick will likely work for your device. See device-specific rooting if your device is not compatible with SuperOneClick.
After verifying your phone is rootable, there still remain couple of prerequisites to rooting your device:
- You NEED to put your phone on USB Debugging mode
- You NEED to install make sure the Android drivers for your phone are installed
- Make sure you DO NOT mount your SD card
- If you still can’t get something to run, try doing it in recovery mode
To put your device into USB Debugging mode, go to Settings > Applications > Development and check the “USB Debugging” box. After enabling debugging, install drivers for your phone on your computer and plug in your phone.
After installing the drivers, you’ll need to download SuperOneClick. Note that, due to the exploit used in the rooting program, it may be detected as a virus; this is to be expected and the program is clean as far as we know. Extract the program and open SuperOneClick.exe (Vista + 7: right click -> run as administrator):
The beauty of SuperOneClick is its rooting method is universal, allowing for all Android devices to be rooted at any version number. So, just hit Root to root your device.
(Sidenote: After rooting, if your device did not allow for sideloading, you can enable sideloading on your device by hitting the Allow Non-Market Apps buttons.)
Once the root procedure has finished, go back to your device. Open your app launcher and you should a new app called “Superuser”. This verifies your device has been rooted; if you don’t see it, try rebooting your device.
Congratulations! You’ve successfully rooted your Android device. Now go have fun theming, de-bloating, and modding.
dotTech has a section on how-to root guides for individual Android devices; you can read the guides from the links below:
- How to root Samsung Galaxy S4 (GT-I9505, the one with LTE and Qualcomm quad-core processor)
- How to root Samsung Galaxy Camera
- How to root Samsung Galaxy Note II
- How to root Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1
- How to root Samsung Galaxy Tab 7.7
- How to root international Samsung Galaxy S III (GT-I9300)
- How to root international Samsung Galaxy S III LTE (GT-I9305)
- How to root Verizon Samsung Galaxy S III
- How to root Sprint Samsung Galaxy S III
- How to root T-Mobile Samsung Galaxy S III
- How to root AT&T Samsung Galaxy S III
- How to root Samsung Galaxy Grand Duos GT-I9082
- How to root Samsung Galaxy Exhibit 4G
- How to root Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G
- How to root Samsung Rugby Smart I847
Barnes & Noble Devices
If z4root nor SuperOneClick worked for your device and we haven’t covered your device on dotTech, the best place to find how to root your device is XDA-Developers. Visit XDA and look for your specific device; then roam the forums and look for a thread that explains how to root. (You will most likely find it in the Android Development subforum for your device.) You can even ask questions if you have trouble.
Apple makes cool toys. However, Apple has not-so-cool restrictions on these toys. Apple likes to build a “walled garden” around its gadgets: You can’t buy or download apps they don’t approve of, and don’t even think about setting custom ringtones. Don’t like that icon? That’s too bad, as Apple won’t let you change it. Luckily, there are ways to blow a hole in this walled garden (without damaging the turnips), and it’s called jailbreaking.
It’s been a long road, getting from there to here. However, after almost a year without a new jailbreak, the first unthethered iOS 6.x jailbreak has been released. Titled evasi0n, it’s available for any device running iOS 6.0 through 6.1. In other words, it shows you how to jailbreak iPhone 5, iPad Mini, the new iPad (aka iPad 4), and any older iDevice on iOS 6.0 or 6.1.
After downloading evasi0n, extract and run evasi0n.exe. Note that you’ll need to disable passcodes prior to jailbreaking. When you’re ready to go, just hit “Jailbreak” and you’ll be on your way!
After it goes through the various stages of jailbreaking, you’ll need to tap the new app on your homescreen labeled “Jailbreak”. Only tap it once! After tapping, it will go through a few more stages of jailbreaking, and will reboot once or twice.
Congratulations, you’re jailbroken!
After downloading Absinthe, extract absinthe-win-[version].exe and run it. Absinthe still won’t start, however: that was just an extractor. Now go to the newly created absinthe-win-[version] folder and run absinthe.exe. You’ll need to run it as administrator.
Just plug in your device and hit jailbreak. It may take quite a while, especially if you have a large amount of data already on your device, due to some of the exploits it uses. Around halfway through the jailbreak, your device will go into Restore mode. This is perfectly normal and is one of the ways the jailbreak works.
In just a few minutes, you’ll be jailbroken! Congratulations!
Do you have an older device, one running iOS 3.1.3 or 4.3.3? You’re in luck! These older software versions are vulnerable to the world’s easiest jailbreak–and you don’t even need a computer to do it on! Simply go do JailbreakMe.com from your device:
Notice the “Free” button? JailbreakMe installs just like any other app, meaning it’s super simple to install:
After tapping Free and Install, just wait a minute or two, and suddenly, Cydia is installed! It’s that simple.
dotTech has an easy-to-follow guide that shows you how to jailbreak your Windows RT tablet. The jailbreak works with any tablet running on Windows RT, including Microsoft Surface RT. Click here to read the guide.
Homebrewing, which is for HP’s WebOS devices, allows you to install apps that aren’t in the App Catalog. It also allows you to install tweaks to the WebOS operating system, like faster animations, overclocking, and many more. The best part about homebrewing is that HP is entirely alright with you if you do it, and on WebOS, there is a large active community of people that write homebrew applications and tweaks. These applications range from things that weren’t submitted to the App Catalog to things that wouldn’t be allowed in the App Catalog. Unlike jailbreaking or rooting, setting up your WebOS device for homebrewing is as easy as the Konami code. Literally.
Luckily for WebOS users, there is a single, unified app for getting set up. To get started, open your Just Type box and type in upupdowndownleftrightleftrightbastart. (Five points for those of you that know what that is.)
Open the Developer Mode app that appears and flick the switch in the top right corner. It’ll ask you for your developer mode password; if this is the first time you’ve done this, you don’t have one. A little while after tapping Submit, you’ll be in Developer Mode–congrats!
Now that you’re in developer mode, connect your device to your computer. Hit Close when asked if you want to use your device as a USB drive.
Everything else is done from the computer. Download the latest version of WebOS Quick Install, currently version 4.3.1, from here. If you don’t have Java, be sure to get it now!
Once downloaded, double click it to launch. It will complain that you don’t have Novacom drivers installed. When it does, just hit the install button and wait a few minutes.After the drivers are installed, it should look something like this:
The package we’re looking for is called Preware. Once you’ve found the package, click install. Very shortly afterward, you’ll have Preware nicely installed on your device. It’ll appear in the downloads tab.
It’s never fun to be told what to do by Big Brother; this is even more true when it comes to electronics we spend our cold hard cash on. With just a few minutes of your time, you can free your device from the shackles put on it by Corporate America. Jailbreaking, rooting, and homebrewing opens doors for your device that would not be open otherwise. Enjoy! (And remember: Don’t pirate apps.)
Originally published August 24, 2011; updated multiple times since then.
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