Whats the difference between rom, rooting, hacking and bootloading?


Jul 19, 2010
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New to the Android software and my 2 day old DX.
I keep seeing these three terms and dont know the difference between bootloading, hacking, rooting or ROMing a phone. Please explain.

Also, which of these 4 can possible brick a phone?
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Super Moderator
Rescue Squad
Jan 23, 2010
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New England
There are guides covering coming terms in the hacking and the RS sections here, stickied to make it easier to find.
eg: http://www.droidforums.net/forum/droid-hacks/632-what-root-means-stop-asking.html (you dont have to stop asking, that's just the title of the thread ;) )

Think of a rom as an image you can apply to a device. In the workplace images are often ghosted and applied to computers to save time in configuring a system. On our phones a rom is a snapshot of the operating system.

People root their phones through the act of rooting. They gain admin rights to replace files they normally can't. Think of it as an admin user on w windows pc that has more access then regular users.

hacking is what we are doing when we seek out methods to alter our phone. We hack to figure things out. We are hacking when we discover as well as when we apply changes.

The droid 1 has a bootloader that is not locked down. We can root the phone and hack it to then apply a rom to it.

Currently the Droid-x and some other phones have a locked down bootloader. That bootloader requires the roms to be signed in order to install new ones. That means hacking developers can't make roms that can be installed on the droid-x at this time.

Flash the wrong rom to your phone and it can make it unusable. In trying to hack the phone it is possible you could swap out some files, in the attempt to make it do what you wanted, and screw it up.

Gaining root in itself will not brick your phone but once you obtain it you can alter any file on the phone. Remove or alter the wrong one....and you'll be asking Verizon to fix your phone for you if you can't replace the file. A system dump has been made that lets you get missing apps back if you tried to get rid of some "bloat ware" but if you wreck the os bad enough you'll need to get it reinstalled.
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New Member
Aug 3, 2010
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thanks for this post, kind of lays everything out there nicely for new users. i just have a few questions to add.

so if the rom is like an image of an OS, if you delete the rom, does that mean there is no software left on the phone at all?

what are some examples of things people change on the roms? is this just for like visual stuff ie. themes, or like cleaning up the OS/getting all bloatware off before you load it, something completely different?

can you take stuff off of multiple roms and put them into your own? like on blackberrys we could take multiple OS's and pull different stuff off of each one, like using radio from one OS version, camera from another OS, keyboards from another OS, etc.. and load it onto your phone that way.