Android – G1 – Root Access Why & How

UPDATE: This Post is getting a little old and may no longer be applicable. Try this post about Android Root Access which is a little more current.

WARNING: Proceed at your own risk, this may damage your phone and/or make it unstable. This is for advanced users only and should only be attempted by those who understand the risks of the following changes

Why should you root your Dream/G1?

Well, hopefully one of those reasons convinced you to get root access on your phone!

The Most Important Things You Need To Know!

  1. Rooting (jailbreaking) your phone will erase EVERYTHING!!! (this includes SD card data)
  2. This process could damage your phone. We have done it several times and many others have done it also, but there is still some risk which you take upon yourself.
  3. Rooting your phone will prevent future over the air updates. In other words when newer versions of android are released in the future you will have to manually install them.

If you still don’t feel comfortable rooting your phone…

Even after our AWESOME instructions below then you can purchase a full video tutorial from our team. This video tutorial includes a clear picture of what your phone and computer screens look like throughout the process and will walk you through every tiny detail. This video is done in actual time and will allow you to clearly see the process! You can purchase the video at the bottom of this post.  It’s super super cheap considering it offers 100 percent surety that your doing everything right and not bricking your $400.00 phone…

Preparing to Get Root on your Phone
Getting root on your phone involves exploiting a security hole that existed in an early version of Android. The versions with the security holes are known as RC19, RC28, and RC29 (or RC7 or lower for UK phones). As of RC30 (RC8 on UK), Google patched the security hole so that your phone can not be rooted (don’t worry, we can still root it!).
To check your version, go to the Home Screen, click your menu button, choose “Settings”, and then click “About phone”. You will then see the following screen:

If you have US-RC30/UK-RC8 or higher, you will first need to downgrade your phone to a previous version. (Skip these steps otherwise)

Downgrading to RC29 (RC7 for UK):

  1. Format your phone’s SD card to FAT32 mode:
    • Hook your phone up to your computer using a USB cable and then wait for the notification to show up in your title bar of your phone.
    • Click the notification, and then click “Mount”.
    • A new removable disk should show up on your computer. Right click it and select Format, and select FAT32 as the file system type. (THIS WILL ERASE ALL THE DATA ON YOUR SD CARD)
  2. Download and unzip theRC29 or RC7 image file. Copy the DREAMIMG.nbh file to the SD card. (RC29 for US, RC7 is for UK)
  3. Turn the device power off.
  4. Hold Camera button, and press Power button to entry bootloader mode. You should see a gray/white screen with instructions to flash your phone with the update on your SD card. If you don’t see that, make sure you followed the instructions properly.
  5. As per the on-screen instructions, press the Power button to start upgrade procedure. DO NOT DO ANYTHING TO INTERRUPT THIS PROCESS.
  6. After it is finished, press the trackball.
  7. A red and blue multi color screen will appear. That is what you want
  8. Remove the battery and replace it to restart your phone.

Rooting your RC29 or lower phone:
On RC29 phones and lower, anything you type into your keyboard is also being run in a hidden console with root permissions. More information regarding that at the bottom of this post. But, to get root access, do the following:


  1. Downloadrecovery.img and copy it to your SD card (see the previous instructions on how to copy from your computer to your Phone’s SD card).
  2. Download the Hard SPL and copy the zip file to the SD card.
  3. All files must be on the root of your SD card.
  4. Restart your phone. Wait for your phone to start up fully and show the home screen.
  5. After your phone starts up, hit the enter key twice, type “telnetd” and press enter. (Yes, it will start up a contact search, don’t worry. Just type it.)
  6. Download an Android “Telnet” application from the Market and connect to localhost.
  7. If you connect successfully, you will have a root prompt “#”.
  8. Type the following into Telnet (these commands will give you root access easier in the future):
    • mount -o rw,remount -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
    • cd sdcard
    • flash_image recovery recovery.img
    • cat recovery.img > /system/recovery.img

Now you have root!

What To Do Now That You Have Root
Now that you have root, you will want to apply “Hard SPL” to your phone. HardSPL is what will allow you to apply flash images from other regions (like UK on US phones, and vice versa), create full backups of your phone, install the latest build from the Android source, and usually resurrect your phone if it is “bricked”. You have already downloaded the file to your SD card, so now you can apply it.

  1. Power off your phone.
  2. Start up in recovery mode by holding home and pressing power.
  3. You will now enter recovery mode. You should see an exclamation.
  4. If you do not see a menu on screen, press Alt-L to show the menu.
  5. Press Alt-S to apply the update from the SD card.
  6. After the update is complete, hold Home and press Back to restart.

And now, the last step! You are still running an old version of Android, but you want to upgrade to the latest and greatest update! You can do this, and not lose root by downloading modified versions of the updates.

First, download the RC33 update file. Or for UK users choose from one of the RC8 download files below

RC8: (md5: de2d0d34adbb4015ee3aa5e4e7ca3c07)…ronment.tar.gz…rb_v=viewtopic…mages-are-out/

  1. Delete All other “” files you have on your computer.
  2. Download the new file using the link above.
  3. Copy it to your phone’s SD card (this may mean copying over the top of an existing file).
  4. Turn your phone off.
  5. Start up in recovery mode by holding Home and pressing Power.
  6. Press Alt-L to view menu
  7. Press alt-W to wipe your device. (You need to do this, or the device may hang at the flashing Android screen)
  8. Press alt-S to apply the update.

And that’s it! Remember to check the links up top to learn how to use root to do the advanced things I mentioned.

(Source:  We took these instructions and clarified some of the question marks)

PS!!! Don’t forget to remount your phone and copy all of your SD Card files back over :)

PSPS!! There is an app available for download from the Android Market called JF Updater. This program will notify you when there is a new version of android available for root users and it will install it OTA :)

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  • Superb manual. A lot of thanks! GZIP really is important.