Monday, 25 February 2013

Multi-boot your Android OS

You can now boot up to five Android operating system versions on a single phone with just a reboot. All you need is simple utility app called Boot Manager, a fairly large SD card (at least 8 GB) and your favorite ROMs. Boot Manager is a unique and powerful utility app from ‘’ and costs just Rs 146 on the Android Market. The first ROM is installed on the phone’s internal storage itself, while the other four ROMs are installed on the SD card in the form of image files that are mounted and ready for use when required. Each image file (boot, system, data and SDEXT) is created according to the existing phone’s partition table and ROM needs; but they can be tweaked to increase or decrease the space for each ROM’s requirements too. Switching between ROMs is as simple as selecting the desired ROM and rebooting the device. The app switches the boot.img file according to the chosen ROM to boot into. These ROMs run directly from the SD card without disturbing or affecting the original ROM on your phone’s internal storage. Those who like to test and try different ROMs from third-party developers can benefit from this app. It can also benefit those testing their apps on different Android OS versions using a single phone. Let's see how you can configure and run this app. But before we start, here are a few important things you need to know.
* You will need a rooted handset with a recovery (CWM or 4EXT recovery) utility already installed on the phone.
* Your phone should have the security flag set to OFF (S-OFF).XX An updated Superuser app with logging disabled.
* An SD card with no bad sectors.
* A fully charged phone. Connecting the charger is best suited.
   Those unfamiliar with some of the above terms can refer to the XDA forums on how to root, S-OFF and install a custom recovery utility on the phone. 
   Those who have incompatible handsets can try them at their own risk
   To get more information about handset support and software related issues, you can log on to the         developer’s website at ‘’.

Note: Incorrect rooting or tweaking can leave you with a permanently damaged phone. We are not responsible for any bricked handsets while performing this guide. Do this at your own risk.

Compatible handsets
HTC: Desire, Desire HD, Desire S, EVO 4G/3D, 
Incresible1/2/S, Inspire 4G, Sensation, 
Thunderbolt, Vision.
Motorola: Droid 1/2/X, MyTouch 4G
Nexus One
Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Let’s begin. Pay for, download and install the BootManager app from the Android Market. Run the app. You will be greeted with a few welcome screens. Proceed with the instructions on the screen and you will be informed to initially setup your phone’s original ROM before installing any other ROM using Boot Manager. This is a crucial step as your phone’s original ROM’s boot.img file needs to be saved in order to boot into the original ROM whenever you need it. Once done, the app will inform you about the success of saving the boot image of your phone’s original ROM. A warning message will also pop up, informing you not to do this step if you are booted into one of the SD card’s ROM. This step needs to be performed only once and will take just a few seconds. If you bypassed this screen accidentally, you can do it after Boot Manager starts up. It is recommended that you take a complete backup of your phone’s existing ROM using the recovery utility of the phone before proceeding.
Now that you are in the Boot Manager’s user interface, you will see six screens from left to right named ‘Phone ROM’, ‘ROM 1’, ROM 2’, ‘ROM 3’, ‘ROM 4’ and ‘Settings’ respectively. Begin with the Phone ROM first. Click on the button ‘Manage UI’. This step is optional as it is just an information screen setup for the phone’s ROM. Here, you can enter the details about the ROM, such as ROM name, Kernel name, description about the ROM and a screenshot for visual identification of the ROM. Now proceed to the next step to install the first ROM. Make sure you have downloaded the ROMS from the Internet and stored them in an appropriate location on the SD card before you proceed. Now switch to the ROM 1 screen and you shall find four buttons ‘Boot ROM’, ‘Install ZIP’, ‘Manage Slot’ and ‘Manage UI’. Click on the ‘Install ZIP’ button. At this stage, this ROM 1 slot should be empty as you have not yet installed any ROM. Clicking the Install ZIP button will bring up three more options—‘Install ZIP’, where you can start installing the ROM you downloaded; ‘Install Kernel’, using which you can upgrade or replace the kernel of the ROM installed on this slot; and ‘Restore Nandroid’, where you can restore a backup of a ROM that you might have stored previously from another ROM. The buttons are self explanatory. Click on ‘Install ZIP’ and Boot Manager will open a file manager to locate the zip file of the ROM you want to install. Select the zip file and you will be asked if you want to wipe the system, cache and data partitions before installing. Select all three and click on the 'install' button. A confirmation window will ask for permissions to proceed, which will be followed by another confirmation for the file system needed for the specific ROM you are going to install. This would be either an EXT2 or an EXT4 file system. Choose the file system as EXT4 if your ROM supports EXT4 or else EXT2 should be good enough. The app then starts creating the image files, mounts them and installs the specific ROM into that slot. The installation procedure will then take place in the status bar. Keep an eye on the installation, which should take around 10 minutes depending on the speed of the SD card. Once completed, you can click on the notification and proceed to ‘Manage UI’ section of the ROM if needed. After it is done, all you need to do is click on the ‘Boot ROM’ button and your phone will boot into the ROM 1 you just installed. You can follow the same procedure to install three other ROMS of your choice in slots ROM 2, ROM 3 and ROM 4 respectively. Boot Manager will also install its app in all the ROM slots you installed so that you can easily switch back and forth into different ROMs. If you have taken a backup of your apps, data and settings using Titanium Backup, you can restore your data and apps into other ROMs with ease. But be careful, using Titanium Backup across different ROM types can cause problems. Hence, we recommend installing apps and setting up the ROM completely from the start rather than restoring from Titanium Backup unless you know how to handle it well.
Boot Manager actually creates a virtual file with the partition table information of the phone and installs the ROM accordingly. When you switch to a particular ROM, it replaces only the boot image of the phone with the original boot image of the ROM, which then instructs the handset that the partitions are not on the phone’s internal storage, but on the SD card (actually creating a hard link to the partitions). Once booted into the new ROM, you will be able to use the phone as though it was installed on the internal storage itself. Setup the phone as you would do when installing a new ROM. 
There might be times when you will witness a failure to boot into the ROM, but don’t panic. If this happens, simply replace the boot.img file of the phone back to its original. To do this, remove and re-insert the battery, boot the phone into recovery mode and flash the ‘’ located in the folder ‘/sdcard/BootManager/PhoneRom/’. This will replace the original boot.img file to the phone and you will be back on your phone’s original ROM. 
For any further issues and help, you can log on to the init2winit forums and check out the discussions and also post your queries for help.


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