Rooting the Droid X - Simple Steps, With Notes

There are a few good reasons to root your android phone: remove bloatware, install special apps, if you are like me and are working on developing apps and want to see what you are doing,or all of the above and then some.  I will not cover the pros and cons of rooting here, only the process of doing so.

There are a lot of guides out there that will tell you how to root your Droid X, like this one, this one, this one and this one. Unfortunately, not all situations are the same, and as these things go, this process is not for the those who are unprepared for the unexpected.

My guide here will attempt to outline the steps to a successful root in a very simple fashion, pointing out the areas where I made mistakes and combining the information I've gathered from dozens of forum posts into one.

I don’t wish to take credit for the work of others, so take a look at those forum posts above as well.  Those are all for slightly different situations: Android 2.1 - Which worked great for me the first time, One click – which I never tried, fixing a broken root after update, and finally, for the Droid 2 – which also works with Droid X on 2.2.  The particular method described here can be traced back to this guy as far as I can tell.

The process is fairly similar in all of these and for other Android-based phones as well, so even if the posts don’t specifically apply to you, they are still good information in troubleshooting.

For our purposes here, we will assume that you have access to a PC with XP or later, rooting the X and that you are already running Android 2.2.  If you are not already running 2.2, get that update on your phone first (On the phone: Settings –> About Phone –> System Updates.)  I had to root my phone twice, first when I got it, and then again after updating to 2.2, so you might want to save yourself the trouble.

If you follow the steps below, be prepared to void your warranty and do so at your own risk.  Know what you are getting into and don't blame me or anyone else if you screw something up.  Remember rules #29 (Take responsibility for yourself) and #7 (Read the directions, even if you don't follow them)

The Steps (Actual commands to type or menus to navigate are the pink bits):

1. On the Phone Update to Android 2.2.  (Settings –> About Phone –> System Updates)
2. Do not connect your phone to the computer just yet.  If you’ve already connected it, unplug it.
3. Download and install the Android SDK Starter Kit.  You actually don’t need the whole package, just one tool called ADB.exe (and its support files) so when installing, unless you are going to use them for your own developing, you can reject installation all of the packages except the Android SDK Tools.  It might be worthwhile to install the USB Drivers package as well, just in case.  If you don’t reject the packages you won’t use (There are lot of them, and they are large), installation can take a VERY long time, so be aware.  Install the packages somewhere you can get at them with a command line, the default is C:\AndroidSDK and should work fine.
4. Download and install the Motorola USB drivers.  You want the USB drivers, not the charging drivers.  Do not connect your phone to the computer until after the driver installation is complete.
5. Download DoRoot for Windows These are the real magic files, so take a moment for the folks that put it together.  Then, extract the zip file somewhere you can get at it with the command line.  For our purposes here, we will assume C:\DoRoot
6. Connect your phone to the computer.  Make sure the phone is in PC mode, rather than USB or charging mode.  You can do this on the phone by opening the USB Connection notification and choosing PC mode from the menu.
7. Wait for Windows to do its thing, connect the device and install the drivers.  If it doesn’t happen, try a different USB port.  If it still doesn’t happen, make sure USB debugging is OFF (See next step).
8. On the Phone after Windows has recognized the device, turn USB debugging ON.  If you came to this step because Windows wasn’t recognizing the phone, then turn debugging off, unplug the phone, plug the phone back in, wait for the drivers to install and then turn debugging back on.  USB Debugging can be found on the phone at: Settings –> Applications –> Development –> USB Debugging
9. On the Computer open a command prompt.  Navigate to where you saved the DoRoot files.  If you used the example in step 5, this is as simple as the command: cd\DoRoot
10. Command Prompt  By default, the Android SDK isn’t integrated with Windows.  You need to tell your command prompt where to find the magic command ADB.  If you used the default C:\AndroidSDK, then the simplest way to do this is to add the tools directory to your path with this command: PATH=%PATH%;C:\AndroidSDK\Tools
11. Command Prompt Verify that everything is working so far by issuing the following command: adb devices  If you have the right drivers, if your phone is properly connected, if adb is working, and so on, you will see a message that says “List of Devices Attached” and your phone’s serial number.  If not, start over.  The good news is that you haven’t actually modified anything on the phone yet, so nothing lost.
12. Now You Have a CHOICE:  Choice 1. The folks that put together that DoRoot package made a batch file that finishes the process.  In theory, you should now just be able to issue the command doroot at the command prompt, follow the on-screen instructions and you will be done, then you can skip down to step 18 and/or the NOW WHAT? section here.  Choice 2. Unfortunately, this batch did not work for me, so if you want to do it the long way in order to be sure, proceed with the next step.
13. Windows Explorer The next step is to get the rooting files on the phone.  The four files that need to go are all in the C:\DoRoot folder: su, busybox, Superuser.apk, rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin  Your phone should show up as a “Portable Device” under “Other” in My Computer.  Clicking that will show you a folder called “Removable Storage,” which is the SD card in your phone.  There are fancy ways using ADB to copy the files to the phone, but since you should be able to view your phone as a portable device, just copy (don’t cut) and paste the whole C:\DoRoot folder to your SD card.  If you insist upon doing it the long way, from the command prompt issue the following: adb push {file} /sdcard/DoRoot/{file} where {file} is each of the four files (Yes, you need to do it four times) listed above.
14. Command Prompt Enter the following command: adb shell  This will put you, interestingly enough, in the ADB Shell.  Your C:\DoRoot> Prompt will change to a $ prompt.
15. ADB Shell The next few steps are putting the root files where they need to go (temporarily) on the phone and setting the proper permissions.  Enter the commands below at the $ prompt.  Each Command is its own separate line.
cp   /sdcard/DoRoot/su   /data/local/tmp/su
cp   /sdcard/DoRoot/busybox   /data/local/tmp/busybox
cp   /sdcard/DoRoot/Superuser.apk   /data/local/tmp/Superuser.apk
cp   /sdcard/DoRoot/rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin   /data/local/tmp/rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin
chmod 0755   /data/local/tmp/rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin

16.  Skip this Step  If you were smart enough to realize that you could adb push the files using the command in step 13 to the locations specified in step 15 directly, good for you.  Never hurts to have a backup, or do things the long way to make sure, though.  And you still need to execute that chmod from step 15, or it won't work.
17. ADB Shell   Now it's time for the big show.  Execute the following command: ./data/local/tmp/rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin  This will apply the actual root process from DoRoot to your phone.  You will be presented with a screen that tells you to be patient and wait.
18. Be Patient and Wait  When the rooting process is finished, adb will shut itself down.  You will be dumped from your $ prompt in adb shell back to your c:\DoRoot> prompt.  This is expected. WAIT for this to happen by itself, don't type anything, don't close the window, don't do anything else, except maybe keep an eye on your phone screen for any messages that pop up.  It may take a little while - up to 5 minutes according to the DoRoot folk.  It finished for me in about a minute (but that was on the second try.).  It has been reported to take even longer.  Go take a shower.  Have dinner. Come back later.
19.  Command Prompt (Optional)  Issue the command adb kill-server  Some people say that this step is not necessary.  It won't hurt anything though, so best to follow through, you've come this far.  If you took the short route in step 15, you get another shortcut, go to the NOW WHAT? section.  Otherwise, trudge on.
20.  Command Prompt  adb shell  if you are lucky, instead of the $ prompt you will get a # prompt.  This confirms that you have rooted the phone.  If not, do not fret, just go back to step 17 and do it again.  If you have to go back, whichever option you chose in step 19, try the other one this time.
21.  ADB Shell (With #)  The next few steps are to put the root files in their final locations.  You can't just do this in the first place, it's sort of a situation where you need root access in order to get root access. Sort of.  
Enter the commands below at the # prompt.  Trying to do so at the $ prompt will fail.  Each Command is its own separate line.  Only the pink parts are commands, the rest are explanation.

mount -o rw,remount -t ext3 /dev/block/mmcblk1p21 /system  This makes your phone system read-write.
cp   /data/local/tmp/su   /system/bin/su  Move the superuser command into the system bin.
chmod 4755 /system/bin/su  Make it executable.
cp   /data/local/tmp/busybox   /system/bin/busybox  Put busybox into the system bin.
chmod 4755 /system/bin/busybox  Make it executable.
cp   /data/local/tmp/Superuser.apk   /system/app/Superuser.apk  Install the Superuser App on the phone.
mount -o ro,remount -t ext3 /dev/block/mmcblk1p21 /system  Put the phone system back to read-only.

22.  Unlock your phone.  Keep an eye on the screen.
ADB Shell (With #)  exit  This will drop you out of superuser mode.
24.  ADB Shell (With $)  exit  This will drop you back to the C:\DoRoot prompt.
25.  Command Prompt   adb shell  Head back into shell.
26.  ADB Shell (With $)  ./system/bin/su If all goes well, you should be put back at the # prompt.  You now have shell superuser access.  This is also the part where you should have been paying attention to you phone screen from step 22.  A ninja might pop up on the screen (Literally, a ninja.) asking if you want to give superuser access to the shell.  Click yes.  There is more on the ninja below.
27.  ADB Shell  A little bit of cleanup.  Get rid of all the files in the ./data/local/tmp directory on the phone.  You'll want to do this for security purposes.  Issue the following commands at either the $ or the # prompt:

rm   /data/local/tmp/su
rm   /data/local/tmp/busybox
rm   /data/local/tmp/Superuser.apk
rm   /data/local/tmp/rageagainstthecage-arm5.bin

You can also delete the same files from the /sdcard/DoRoot folder created in step 13, just subsitute /sdcard/DoRoot for /data/local/tmp in the previous four commands.  You can also delete them the same way you got them on, from Windows Explorer.  Or you can leave them in case you need to root again for whatever reason.  I like backups.  Backups are important.

28.  ADB Shell  Keep entering the command exit until you get back out the the C:\DoRoot> prompt.  Depending on which adb prompt you were at ($ or #) you may have to do this once or twice.  A third time will close your Windows command prompt window, which is fine, because you are all done.
Important bits to remember:
That is about all I have to say on that.  Comments on my guide can be emailed to [ programs (at) ] If you have suggestions or corrections for this guide, please let me know.  I will update it as necessary to keep up with changes to android.  For toher things, I won't answer every email, nor respond to the bulk of technical support questions, but if I have a quick answer and the time, you might get lucky.  Remember, you do all of this at your own risk.

v - 2010-09-24 0954