Tom's Two Cents

How To Root Your G1 Android Phone (and why you might want to)

How To Root Your G1 Android Phone (and why you might want to)

UPDATE: Here is a different set of instructions that is specifically for beginners, including an app that does most of the work for you: http://androidandme.com/2009/08/news/how-to-root-a-t-mobile-g1-and-mytouch-3g-android-phone/

Please note: I have recently switched from JF 1.5.1 to the latest Cyanogen ROM (v.4.0.2). More details are available here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=537204


With the G2 out and a total of 18 Android phones expected by year’s end, I am happier than ever with my G1. Why? Because I have root access and a second battery 🙂 There are lots of forums and blogs that describe how to root a G1 Android phone, but first I want to focus on why you might want actually want to do it.

Others have compiled lists of pros and cons for rooting the G1 phone, but I want to focus more on the specific apps that make rooting the G1 totally worth it to me. Normally, Android only lets you copy/paste links, but the rooted G1 (running JF 1.5.1) has a nifty feature that let’s me copy text from anywhere. (I do this a lot, so this is one less reason to bring the laptop.) With a rooted G1 you can hold Shift, scroll anywhere on the screen, click the scroll ball once to start selecting, and click it again to stop the selection — it automatically copies your selection to the clipboard. It also has a the iPhone’s multi-touch feature for the browser, if you care about that kind of stuff.

Here are a few of my favorite “root only” apps:
  • Wifi tether (free here) — This is the single coolest reason to root your G1 phone. It allows your to use your G1’s data connection as a wifi access point. This is great alternative when staying in a hotel that charges for wifi. For those on a 3G network, this is actually pretty fast (a little less than DSL speeds). The G1 will prompt you when someone is trying to connect, so you can control who uses it. (It also works via Bluetooth, if you prefer that.) I’ve used wifi tether to create a mobile access point in the car. My wife used it to surf around on her iPod Touch on a recent road trip. Very cool.
  • Backup for Root Users (free on Android market) — Backs/restores all your apps and settings to your micro SD card. Even compatible with App2SD.
  • SetCPU (costs $0.99) — This app overclocks the G1 up to 528 MHz (384 is normal) when you are using it or when it’s plugged in, and can also “underclock” the processor down to 128 MHz when in sleep mode to save battery life. No reported problems with this level of overclocking. Very cool!

  • App2SD (costs $0.99) — This app partitions the micro SD card of your G1 so you can install and run apps from there. It seems to have some compatibility issues with JF 1.5.1, so unless you really need the extra space for apps, you may want to wait until the installation is a little easier. Here are some folks who seem to have figured out a workaround for anyone who is feeling adventurous.
  • JF Updater (free on Android market) — Since you can no longer receive OTA (over the air) updates, this app does the same thing for rooted G1s. When a new JF update is available, it will pull it down and install it for you.

So now do you want to know how to root your G1 phone? I thought you’d never ask! You don’t have to be super technical as long as you can follow directions. I like this tutorial best: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=442480. Just be sure to use the latest version of JF 1.5.1 instead of the ones listed at the bottom of the tutorial (I prefer this link because it also includes a separate update for the G1’s radio: http://files.lucidrem.us/_fd.php?file=jf/USA/1.51/REM/update.zip). Oh, and there is also a small fix you may need to run if your browser multi-touch doesn’t work right off the bat.

UPDATE: Here is a different set of instructions that is specifically for beginners, including an app that does most of the work for you: http://androidandme.com/2009/08/news/how-to-root-a-t-mobile-g1-and-mytouch-3g-android-phone/

11 thoughts on “How To Root Your G1 Android Phone (and why you might want to)

  1. Bob Caswell

    So how long would you say the whole process takes to root your G1? I’m going to do it; it’s just a matter of time. No more Internet charges in hotels is reason enough!

  2. Tom Caswell

    @Bob Caswell
    It took me 30-60 min. if you don’t count the research beforehand or reinstalling my apps after I was done. The good news is that the research has been done for you. Plus if you use something like App Manager you can save most of your apps to your micro SD card (you’ll also need a file manager such as Linda to reinstall your apps one by one from the card, but it saves a little time). I would also send yourself a list of you current apps using aTrackDog just in case the other App Manager backup doesn’t work. I guess it took me a few hours total, but that’s just because I have over 100 apps. FWIW, you will only have to go through this process once because once you have root access you can make full backups. And even when you do other updates in the future, it doesn’t wipe your apps unless you tell it to. It will usually update the Android OS and leave your apps intact. Hope that helps.

  3. Rich Hagen

    I followed the root instructions to the letter about 6 times but it doesn’t seem to work on my new G1 running RC33. I put the DREAIMG.nbh file on the SD card. I can see it there when I make a USB connection. However, when I reboot the phone by holding the camera and the end key, it goes rainbow and then to the grey screen for a split second and then to the rainbow screen again and locks up until I pull the battery. Even though the loading grey screen only comes up for a second, I was able to see that it said No image file found. Why won’t it recognize the DREAIMG.nbh file. I’m extremely frustrated. Can you help troubleshoot?

  4. Tom Caswell

    Hi Rich,

    It sounds like your microSD card might not be formatted correctly. It has to be FAT32. You might want to try a different microSD card just in case the card is bad.. Other than that, I’m really not sure what the trouble could be. It sounds like you understand the process: 1. Downgrade to the RC29 ROM, 2. Gain root access, and 3. Upgrade to JF1.5.1. Things are really busy for me these days, so that’s probably all the help I can offer you. Good luck!

  5. AJ

    Did you have any bluetooth issues after rooting your phone? I can no longer get my bluetooth to function properly with my car or earpiece.

  6. Stephen

    this all sounds great but what r the cons to doing this?
    is it reversable?
    can i still download and buy regular apps?
    also i just recieved the 1.6 donut update, could it make the proccess harder or difrrent???

  7. Tom

    @Stephen
    Yes, the process is all reversible (although you will probably have to reinstall your apps one-by-one the first time you root your phone). And yes, you can still download, buy, and use regular apps after rooting your phone (although certain proprietary apps may be missing, such as T-mobile MyFavs app) depending on the ROM you choose. Google it beforehand if you need a specific app. I still recommend the Cyanogen ROM, although the new donut version of Cyanogen is only available on Bit Torrent for now (search for update-cm-4.1.11.1-signed.zip). Read this to understand why: http://u196d.tk. The nice thing about rooting your Android phone is that once you have root you can easily backup your entire phone (using the Nandroid backup tool that is build into the boot loader) and try out another ROM. If it doesn’t work or if you don’t like that ROM, you can easily restore everything back the way it was before using Nandroid. If you don’t need root for any specific reason then all this is probably not worth the effort, but I am very glad I rooted mine. I hope this helps.

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