Here’s How to Root the Nexus 7 – But Should You?

I waited several weeks for my brand new Nexus 7. I opened the box with lingering anticipation, powered it on (without charging it first, even though I know better), salivated as I saw the new home screen, and started downloading app after app hoping to find a barrier that this little beast couldn’t surmount. I found nothing. I found absolutely nothing this quad-core $200 steal couldn’t lay to waste.

Satisfied? I should be. Am I? No. I’m an Android lover, and Android lovers aren’t so easy to please…

What Tweaking Can Lead To…

Nexus 7

The Nexus 7, Manufactured by Asus

I think Android fans may be a technologically-minded congregation of masochists. Those of us that have been with the ecosystem for a long time anticipate that something will go wrong. Yet we stick with it. Whether you were an early adopter of the G1 or a true believer in the “Droid” line, you adapted to the flaws in the hope that someday, this ship would right itself.

For me, Android offered a budget-friendly path to touch-screen capability, to 24/7 connectivity, to something to do while I’m sitting in a desolate reception area waiting for my job interview. But the day that Nexus 7 came in the mail, I was already seeking a way to tweak it, to make it better. I was scouring the forums for ROMs, longing to improve upon the performance, to eke out a slightly better benchmark. My device is ranked under the Transformer Prime? Erroneous! I can change that with a quick bootloader unlock, root, custom recovery, Linaro-based kernel, a few init.d tweaks…

Why? It wasn’t until I starting comparing my device against others that I began desiring something with a bit more horsepower, customizations, and tweaking. At one point, a 600MHz processor fit the bill. When that passed, a 1GHz Snapdragon held its own. When that looked like a tick in molasses, I bumped it up to a dual-core Tegra 2. Was that enough? No – my computer at home has four cores! I demand such things from a device a fraction of the size. And while we’re at it, I demand it be reasonably priced.

Now I have four cores in both my phone and my tablet. Moore’s law has been crushed by the mobile onslaught, and Android – which began as a pipe dream for a handful of developers and Google – has evolved into an OS to truly compete with Steve Jobs’ brainchild. It grappled the international market capturing a majority of the world’s smartphone users. It finally saw its first hardware victories in creating the first dual-core devices. And with Ice Cream Sandwich, it reinvented itself, finally delivering on its long-overdue promise: a complete mobile handset.

The Nexus 7

Nexus 7

The best tablet $200 can buy.

Now, with Jelly Bean, and a spectacular and affordable tablet, we are still pining. When I pitched this piece to my editor, I had just received my Nexus 7 and followed suit with most Android anticipations. I was ready to dig into this tablet, dissect its many secrets, root it, unlock it, drop a new ROM, and see what I could knock out with a benchmark. But then I spent a few days with it.

I am actually already an owner of the older, but very capable, ASUS Transformer TF101. Yes, the original. I use it for browsing, reading, gaming, and so on. So when I expressed my interest in the Nexus 7, people asked me why. To be honest, I just like the 7 inch form factor. If I want to watch a movie, I turn to a laptop or my TV. But if I want to lie in bed and read, or take something into a business meeting for quick reference, I like the 7 inch tablet – just like Rita. When I saw the Nexus 7 for cheap, I figured it’d last me a long while.

I wanted a leisure device. Something with which I wouldn’t fool. I wanted a HD screen (check), a fast processor (check), good battery (check), and lightweight enough that it could go everywhere I did (check). A few weeks with the Nexus 7 and I feel that customization is unnecessary. I wanted so much and this device fulfilled every need.

So tonight I sit here, with my shiny new tablet in front of me, ADB already pulled up, and everything ready to go. This thing is about as easy to root as anything could be. But, I’m not quite sure if I’m ready to pull the trigger. Maybe I’ll just have another beer and think about it while I catch up on Breaking Bad with this 1280×800 screen.

How to Root It

If you choose to go forward, I include the instructions below. It’s about as simple as an easy-bake oven. I just wanted you to think twice before you let the little green monster out of you.

Find the ToolKit here:

  1. Download ToolKit.
  2. Extract.
  3. Install driver in “drivers” folder if not already installed (it will say PdaNet)
  4. Plug in device to computer and place in USB debugging mode (Settings > Developers Options > USB Debugging)
  5. After drivers are installed, run root.exe.
  6. It will asked if your bootloader is locked or unlocked. If you just bought it from Google, it’s locked.
  7. Select your preference of “super user” or “supersu” for root (just a preference choice).

Once you make this choice, it will do its magic. Just keep in mind that if your bootloader was locked, it will wipe all your data. If you’d like a video of the process, check out the video below.