Custom ROM and Root : The most important terms explained

Custom ROMs are no longer a niche only for those who have the expertise to install. Rooting your android phone and to equip it with a custom ROM becomes easier and less risky. But, many newcomers still receding jargon that developers use to explain various processes. So we set up a glossary of terms to help make those first steps a little easier.

What is Custom ROM?

A custom ROM is basically a different operating system for your smartphone or tablet. It is like switching on the engine in a car. outside remains the same, but the interiors are different.

Unlike the pre-installed firmware that is provided by the manufacturer, such as Samsung’s TouchWiz or HTC Sense, custom ROMs generally provide some nearly pure Android experience as you can find on Google Nexus devices.


Custom ROMs are also enriched with many useful additional features and customization options that affect the behavior of the system. Thus, the user gets more control on their device that would never be possible with the manufacturer’s standard software.

In addition, custom ROMs are also a good way to install a newer version of Android on your device. Especially if it is an older model.

What is a nightly build?

Nightly builds are automatically created versions of a custom ROM,. which add the most recent amendments to the code base every day. These patches, updates and new features available and can be flashed nightly by those who want to test them.

However, as they are created automatically, they are not checked for errors or bugs. As such, they are not recommended for daily use, but for control error and debugging.

They are generally referred to as the “bleeding edge” because they are unstable and unreliable, but having the latest features in them. For this reason, they are not recommended for beginners.

What is the root?

The term “root” comes from the Linux world and describes the lowest level of the file system or root access. When we talk about the root process, we mean root privileges have been accessed, meaning that you have access to the file system rather than just the surface layer.

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Superuser permissions or root access, allow you to change absolutely everything about the system. Having this type of access can be dangerous for a novice user because the important system files that are required by the operating system can be removed as easily as unnecessary. This is one reason that most smartphones are not anchored by default.

What is Gapps ?

Gapps are essentially all Google applications including Gmail and the Play Store. For legal reasons, these applications are not a standard part of custom ROM, but must be installed separately simultaneously flashing a ROM. Fortunately, there are many simple Gapps installers that streamline the process.

What is recovery?

The recovery process can be started before the actual starting process of the Android operating system by pressing a combination of keys.

See also: How to Back Up Android Data

Recovery contains factory reset option for the smartphone and also the possibility to erase the cache, make or restore a backup, install the zip files and a bunch of other useful features. With a custom recovery, as opposed to the rebuilding of stocks. you can also create or install custom ROM.

What is a bootloader?

A bootloader is a separate internal memory of the smartphone or tablet partition. The bootloader loads the actual Android operating system. You need to unlock the bootloader for flashing a custom ROM. Some new cameras have a simple settings menu option for all OEM release, which must be activated before attempting to unlock the

What’s fastboot ?

Fastboot is a special tool which is used for diagnostic and development. Android device in fastboot mode (which is connected to a computer) allows you to boot images and other files on your smartphone.

Other commands can also be sent to the device in fastboot mode, as telling him to remove some partitions or restart the bootloader.Moto-X-2014-Fastboot-recovery-mode

What is a cache / Dalvik Cache?

The cache is a buffer memory in which files are stored frequently used for faster recovery. The Dalvik cache is a directory tree for all programs.

What is the ADB?

Android Debug Bridge ADB means and a software interface for the Android operating system. It is similar to
(and how it interacts via the computer’s command line terminal with your smartphone or tablet) and requires you to be connected to a computer.ADB-screen-size-density

With ADB, you can upload files to your computer from your smartphone and vice versa.

What is a  Nandroid backup ?

A Nandroid backup is a complete image of your system. Should you do something stupid, like delete a necessary system and “soft brick file” your device (soft brick means a broken phone fixable), you can return it to the previous state (“unbrick” it) by restoring a backup of your system using a Nandroid.

What is a kernel/custom kernel?

A core is the relationship between hardware and software on your device. Every time you interact with your Android smartphone, the kernel sends the requests made by the software to the hardware and makes appropriate changes and vice versa.

For example, if you change the brightness with the slider on your device,. the kernel saves the change and brings brightness to actually change the display. This is a very simplistic explanation of what is happening behind the scenes, but gives a pretty clear idea of what a kernel is.

A custom kernel can extend the system to include additional functions, such as changing the CPU clock rate or adjust the battery usage and downtime.

Final thoughts

These are just a few of the most commonly used related to rooting and using a custom ROM terms. It is, of course, much more to discover and learn. but this article should serve as a good introduction to what some of these terms actually mean.

Have you ever rooted Android phone? Flashed a custom ROM? Tell us about your experiences in the comments.

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