One thing I’ve learned about the rooting and ROMs and hacking in general is that it can be a little intimidating for new people. There’s nothing quite like staring at your first command line interface and wondering what the living hell you’re supposed to do. Flashing ROMs and gaining root access on an Android phone isn’t much smoother, to be honest.
Right now flashing a new ROM for your Android phone means saving a Nandroid backup, rebooting into bootloader mode, booting from there into recovery, wiping the Dalvik-cache, clearing your cache partition, clearing your SD card, installing a new ROM, and rebooting. That’s quite a bit to do within the cramped confines of ClockworkMod or Amon-Ra. That’s where ROM Manager comes in.
Why Do I Need A Manager For My ROMs?
Well, technically you don’t. Everything that ROM Manager does can be easily replicated without it. I’ve flashed plenty of new ROMs without the Manager. The whole rooting process is perfectly functional without ROM Manager.
However, the process could stand to be a little easier. That’s where ROM Manager is useful. It places the whole rooting process within an easily understandable visual interface. Those intimidating recovery modes are simple to control with the Manager.
That’s the basic idea behind ROM Manager. It makes rooting and changing ROMs a whole lot easier. The user interface itself is decent at best (it’s no MIUI), but it’s still better than the confusing confines of ClockworkMod.
Features and Usage
That overall smoothing of the ROM process is pretty evident wherever you look in ROM Manager. There are lots of little additions that help you out. For example, you can rename your Nandroid backups when you make them.
When you flash a new ROM, the Manager will ask you if you want to back up the phone (make a Nandroid) before flashing. This is a critical step that should never be skipped, and bonus points to ROM Manager for making a part of the flashing process.
That flashing process, however, can’t really start unless you’ve got a good ROM to flash. ROM Manager offers quick links within the app to a few of the most popular ROMs available. On my Evo 4G they had the stock ROM listed along with the latest CyanogenMod and a few others (But no MIUI? What gives?)
That’s where the paid part comes in, I guess. Shell out for the paid version of ROM Manager and you get access to “premium” ROMs. The ROMs listed here are all already available for free online, but searching for these ROMs, keeping a tab on updates and manually updating each time can be a hassle. If you wish to avoid doing this, get the paid app and it will manage all this for you. Otherwise, the free version is perfectly usable.
If you’ve already got a ROM, the Manager also lets you install them from your SD card. Just point to the .zip file and install away.
The actual ROM Manager install process does use the recovery system, but in a totally painless manner. All you do is set out a list of actions for ROM Manager to take (create a Nandroid and flash a new ROM). The app will boot your phone into recover and do all the heavy lifting from there.
It’s a nice feature to have. To its credit, ROM Manager really is easier to use than digging through ClockworkMod. It’s really convenient to be able to queue your actions up and have them automatically executed for you. ROM Manager handles everything.
Wait, What’s A ClockworkMod?
ClockworkMod is a custom recovery system. What that means is that it installs itself into your phone’s system files and can rearrange basically everything on your phone.
If that sounds kind of ominous, well, it isn’t really. ClockworkMod is used for installing new ROMs, making Nandroid backups, and restoring those backups. Basically anything to do with rooting is done through ClockworkMod.
I recommend using the system, it works quite well. However, ClockworkMod is a bit difficult to use. That’s where ROM Manager comes in. It does everything that ClockworkMod does, but in a slightly easier interface.
The good part is that ROM Manager will install ClockworkMod for you. Just tap the option at the menu and it’ll install.
ROM Manager also comes with a few extra features which make nice additions. Under Utilities there’s an option for “Fix Permissions,” a system command that can help with apps that stop running and require you to force close them.
Also included is an option to partition your SD card. If it’s partitioned, then you can use the newly specified space to install apps to the SD card with other utilities like Titanium Backup or Apps2SD. Provided that your ROM supports running apps from the SD card, of course.
No app is without its faults, and ROM Manager has a few. Although popular, many people online complain that it’s too buggy. They may be right- when I tried to flash CyanogenMod 7 with ROM Manager, it stuck itself into an endless bootloop.
Although that error might be due to ROM Manager’s other fault. When you install it, the app tries to overwrite whatever recovery system you might already have installed. I was perfectly happy with the version of ClockworkMod that came with Revolutionary when I rooted my Evo 4G, but ROM Manager still tried its best to get me to install its older version of ClockworkMod.
I have to wonder if CyanogenMod didn’t install because I didn’t install the ROM Manager version of ClockworkMod. Whatever the cause is, I suggest you look carefully before getting rid of your old recovery system.
All in all, ROM Manager is a good app. It’s a genuinely useful tool for flashing and changing ROMs that really helps smooth a somewhat rocky process. It does what it advertises and does so well.
If you are one of those users who like to flash a new ROM every few days, this app is a blessing for you. If not, I’d still recommend picking it up for general usefulness.
So, which ROM are you currently using? Do you use ROM Manager? If so, how has your experience with the app been? Let us know in the comments.
Download ROM Manager From Android Market:
Start a barcode (QR code) scanner on your phone and scan the QR code below. This will take you directly to the Android market to download the app. If you do not have a QR Code scanner app, choose one from the Best QR Code Scanner Apps for Android.