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The main reason I and many others prefer Android phones over iPhones is that Google makes much of Android’s code freely available. Other developers are then free to create versions of Android with less of the parts we don’t like and more of the parts that we do.
But this isn’t the Android experience you get when you first purchase your device. Instead, you have to take matters into your own hands by unlocking your phone’s bootloader and flashing a custom ROM.
Process - Understatement - Everyone - Android - Years
This is a technical process that, as an understatement, isn’t for everyone. I have written about Android for years, and I still consider the process an exercise in patience. There are so many points at which everything can and often does go wrong.
Here are some of the major pain points you may run into when you flash an Android ROM.
Systems - PC - Linux - Process - Linux
If you’re familiar with replacing operating systems on your PC, then you’re probably familiar with Linux. That process involves installing Linux to a CD or USB stick, restarting your computer, and pressing the key during boot that enables you to load the alternative OS rather than the one on your hard drive.
The process on Android is much more complicated. You can’t get by using only your phone or tablet; you need a computer as well. Then you need to download specialized software on it.
Android - Debug - Bridge - ADB - Suite
Specifically, you must have the Android Debug Bridge, better known as ADB. This suite of tools includes a program called Fastboot. ADB talks to your phone when it’s powered on. Fastboot talks to your phone after you reboot into a special mode, helpfully called “Fastboot mode.” Both tools communicate via a USB cable.
Installing ADB is relatively straightforward. You go to Google’s Android developer website and download the appropriate version for your computer. ADB supports Windows, macOS, and Linux.
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