List – Android Root Terms Explained For Newbies

Welcome to the wonderful world of Android where you can customise your device till in the heart of the system. Having an Android you are open to a lot of possibilities to modify your phone and make it unique. And if you go deep enough you can make your phone unlike anyone else on the planet. So why not make your friends jealous and make your phone simply awesome.

You may have heard terms like ROMs, Kernels, Mods etc, but what do they mean? In today’s post we are going to explain all the rooting terms you gonna find during your journey into wonderful world of Android. You don’t have to struggle any more to understand all the the funny words that Android users keep throwing at each other that might seems funny but believe me this is not the end of the world.

It’s hard being a newbie but as in any other field even in Android you have to start from somewhere. So before making your first step you first need to understand all the Android terms used around the community. Did you ever come across any word you don’t understand, than check the list below.

Android root terms


A firmware is basically the operating system of your device. “Stock firmware” stands for unmodified firmware which means it’s the version of the operating system the phone manufactures delivers. If you are using stock firmware you have come across the ‘firmware update’ term. It means that the manufacture has delivered a new software and your phone will be updated automatically to the new version of it.


Root is a popular term among Android users. It means you have full access to the device. If you gain root access you get administrator privileges and you can make any system changes. This are enhanced privileges that grant you more control over your device.

Root refers to “administrator” or “full” access to the device. That is, your device earns enhanced privileges and can grant you more control in customizing it. The term referring to the process of gaining such administrative access is “rooting.”

With root access, you can mount the device’s internal memory partition as read/write, allowing you to do various things like USB or Wi-Fi tethering and uninstalling annoying bloatware. You can also enjoy certain applications that require root access, overclocking or underclocking the CPU, and more.

Some phone can be easier to root while some others require a tedious process to gain root access. There are plethora of one-click root tools that can make all the work for you but they don’t support all the devices so you may have to find longer guide to gain root access.


ROM or “read-only-memory” is a modified version of Android firmware. You have heard a lot the term ‘Custom ROM’ which is the same thing. They are created by developers to give extra features, a different look and increase performance. Usually Custom ROMs are being updated to the latest version of Android even before the release of the official firmware. There are plethora of Custom ROMs but the most popular are CyanogenMod, Omega, MIUI, Android Open Kang Project (AOKP), Resurection Remix.


Recovery is a piece of software installed on Android devices and allows you to perform system-level tasks. Using recovery you can flash ROMs, make backups and so on. By default every Android device comes with a stock Recovery but it doesn’t do much. It allows you only to perform basic options such as wipe cache and wipe device. You will need to install a custom recovery to get full control over your device. The most popular custom recoveries are TWRP which stand for Team Win Recovery Project and CWM (ClockworkMod Recovery).


Flash means installing something on your Android device. It might be a ROM, Kernel, Mod or anything else that comes in the form of a zip file that can flashed through Recovery. Flashing is the process of of installing a firmware image, a ROM or any zip file. The process goes step by step and usually the file you are going to flash works only on specific devices. So you have to follow the steps carefully and find the proper files otherwise you may end up bricking your device.


Android is a Linux-based operating system and the kernel is the heart of these systems. It controls how hardware and software interacts and we can say the kernel is the “brain” of the operating system. Without the kernel it would be impossible for devices to run properly. The kernel also decide which activity your device should perform at any particular moment.


A Mod is a zip file that can be flashed through recovery and it makes changes to the system by tweaking its settings. Mods are created by developers for a specific reason, usually to enhance performance. A particular mod works only on particular devices. So before flashing any mod make sure it’s compatible with your device and its operating system.

ROM Manager

ROM Manager is an designed for root users. It’s very popular in the developers community. ROM Manager allows you to install ROMs from SDcard, flash recoveries, download new ROMs over-the-air and perform backups.


You have heard this term before and you’re going to hear it a lot if you intend to mess up with Androids. Brick comes as the result of flashing a wrong firmware, a mod and so on. The term brick is used for devices that no longer work. So to prevent your device from brick you have to follow all the steps carefully and flash only the files that are tested before.


Bloatware is a piece of software that in most of the cases it is not needed. These apps come pre-installed to a device’s /system partition and you can uninstall them easily. You can remove them completely unless your device has root access. Usually bloatware can be sponsored app and included by a carrier for their profit.

NANDroid backup

In your journey into the Android world you are going to find plethora of how to guides which recommends you to do a Nandroid backup before making any changes to the system. Nandroid is a set of tools that allows root users to create a full copy of the current ROM. So if anything goes wrong or you simply want to experiment something on your device, Nandroid tools will backup everything. Just in case you want to restore back you can easily do it by restoring the Nandroid backup from Recovery.


HBoot is loaded immediately after you switch your phone. Its main responsible is to check and initialize the hardware and start the phone’s software. HBoot can be used few things such as flashing official stock software releases.

Superuser (SuperSU)

Now you know that Android is a operating system based on Linux, and Linux has something that is called root access. If you will root your phone you will gain superuser access. It means you gain more access to your Android than normal users. The term superuser can be used for a special user account for system administration. Also Superuser is the name of an app that lets you grant or deny root privileges to installed apps. Inside this app you will find all the apps that have superuser access.

It is a term used when you want to increase the speed of the device’s CPU or GPU. Overclocking is done by installing custom kernels that are designed for this purpose.


ADB stands for Android Debug Mode. It is the command line tool that helps computer communicate with Android device when they are connected. ADB is often used to perform various actions to Android using your computer. Sometimes ADB is the only way to give commands to your device when it’s broken. ADB is part of Android software developers Kit (SDK) and is used in root tools.


Fastbootis a special diagnostic and engineering protocol that the Android device can be booted to. Fastboot is three different things with the same name; A protocol for communication between the computer and phone hardware, software that runs when the device is booted into fastboot mode and and the executable file on the computer you are using to make the device and the computer talk with each other. While in fastboot you can make changes to the file system images from a computer and using only a USB cable.


You may have heard this term a lot but what the hell does it mean? The Bootloader is considered as the lowest level of software on your phone. It runs before the operating system start. Most of the devices comes with locked bootloaders which prevents you from making changes to the device such as rooting it and installing ROMs. It makes sense because the manufacture don’t want you to change the OS they have provided. But unlocking bootloader allows you to do whatever you want with your device.

Boot loop

When your device can’t boot to the OS but it recycles over and over again we say it is stuck in a boot loop. This happens when you wanna make changes to your system but you don’t follow the instructions. Boot loops may be caused be defects on the software code. Also when you flash a wrong file you will end up in a boot loop. The developers who are aware of boot loops include patches to flash right away after you flash a custom ROM.

Dalvik cache

Cache memory also called CPU memory is simply a random access memory (RAM) and the microprocessor can access quickly than accessing the regular RAM. If you will mess up with Android and flash ROMs you will find to often the term Dalvik Cache. In most of the cases you will need to wipe the Dalvik Cache through recovery when flashing ROMs. It holds all the pre-compiled.dex files created from installed apps. The created files are static and they change only when the app is updated.


ART is the short version on Android Runtime are, what allows apps to run on Android. Let’s think of them as the “box” within which all apps Android run. So by running apps within a “box” developers don’t have to worry about the device you are running the app on. Android apps primarly are based on java and ART  and Dalvik before are the parts of Android that compile the javacode to run on your device


ARM refers to the processor architecture and it’s mostly found in smartphones and tablets. The ARM architecture standard is maintained by the company ARM. It licenses their own designs for processors. Two major manufacture of ARM based processors are Samsung and Qualcom.


AOSP is the short version of Android Open Source project. You will see this term often in the ROM description that means the ROM is based on Android open source code provided by Google, and not by developers or carriers.


CyanogenMod is a customized firmware by a group of developers and it’s available for several devices. It’s the most popular Custom ROM based on Android Open Source Project. It is designed to increase performance and reliability over stock firmware released by OEMs and Carriers. The ROM is being updated once a new version of Android is released offering various features and enhancements that can’t be found on the other ROMs.


BusyBox is an application that provides the standard set of UNIX tools. The default toolbox provided by Android is very limited so if you want to allow rooted ROMs or applications to use advanced features of UNIX you will need BusyBox.


RUU stands for ROM Upgrade Utilities and SBF for System Boot Files. These files are how the manufacture delivers OTA (ver the air) updates. When updates haven’t been released yet modders usually post leaked RUU and SBF files for flashing. RUU and SBF can be useful also when you want to downgrade your phone.


If you see a list of a Custom ROMs feature chances to see this term are bigger. Zipalign is a tool and it optimizes the way an Android apk file is packaged. Zipaligned apps are launched more quickly and use less amounts of RAM.

Odex file

Android applications comes in packages with the extension .apk. These packages contains .odex files which are supposed to save space. Odex files are collections of part of an application that are optimized before booting. It speeds the boot process and in the other hand it makes hacking these apps difficult because a part of the coding has been extracted to another location before execution.


Deodex is basically repacking of thes APK. Doing so these files are reassembled into classes.dex files. All the parts of an application are put together in one place, thus eliminating the worry of a modified APK conflicting with separate odex parts.

Well, congratulations! You are now equipped with an arsenal of the most used Android root tools. You have now the basic knowledge but you may like to read also 15 most asked questions about Android. Using this information you just learned can help you make better decisions when it comes to make changes to your Android device.

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