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What is a custom ROM?

A custom ROM is basically a different operating system for your smartphone / tablet. Unlike the pre-installed firmware that is provided by the manufacturer, such as Samsung Touchwiz or HTC Sense, custom ROMs provide an almost pure Android experience much like that you’d find on Google’s Nexus devices. Custom ROMS are also enriched with many useful extra features and customization options that affect the behavior of the system. Thus, the user gets more control over their device than it would ever be possible with the standard software from the manufacturer. In addition, custom ROMs are also a good way to install a more recent version of Android on your device.

root What is root?

The term “root” comes from the Linux world and describes the lowest level of access of the file system. When we talk about the root process, we’re indicating that a super user privileges have been access and you have full access to the entire file system. This allows you to change absolutely everything that is available on the system. Having this type of access can be dangerous to a novice user as important system files that are required by the OS can be deleted as well as useless ones. This is also one of the reasons that most smart phones are not rooted by default. By rooting and installing a custom ROM, you can more access to manipulate your device to your whims.

What is ADB and what does it mean?

ADB stands for Android Debug Bridge and is a software interface for the Android operating system. Similar to fastboot and how it interacts via the computer command line terminal with your smartphone or tablet, ADB requires you to be connected to a computer. With ADB, you can download files to your computer from your smartphone and vice versa.

What is kernel / custom kernel?

A kernel is the link between the hardware and software on your device. Whenever you interact with your Android smartphone, the kernel sends the requests made by the software to the hardware and makes the appropriate changes and vice versa. If you, for example, change the brightness with the slider on your device, the kernel registers the change and causes the brightness to actually change on the screen. Of course, this is a very simplistic explanation of what goes on behind the scenes, but gives a pretty clear insight into what a kernel does.

A custom kernel can expand the system to include additional functions, such as changing the CPU clock rates or adjusting the battery usage and idle times.


And so, those were a bunch of the most common used terms related to rooting and using a custom ROM and you’ll most likely see them when we and other talk about the process. There, of course, is much more to discover and learn, but for now, it’s a nice introduction into what some of the terms actually mean.