Share this Story

DROID X Bootloader Locked, Custom ROMs Unlikely?

There has been a lot of behind the scenes chatter over the past few weeks on whether or not the new Droid X would come with a similar signed/locked/encrypted/sucky bootloader that has frustrated the Motorola Milestone crowd for a good 7 months now.  The answer?  It appears to be bad news.

One of our favorite Droid developers (same one that put together our clean FRF84b ROM), Stephen Bird (aka birdman), has had a chance to dig into the DX and is confirming that this beast is indeed on lockdown.

So what does that mean?  There is still a good chance that root access will be gained, but custom ROMs will be a whole other challenge.  Milestone developers have been attacking this encrypted bootloader for so long now and with so little success that it’s tough for our hopes to be set all that high.  At the same time, that’s 7 months worth of research done that can now be used by the U.S. crew of devs.  (Trying to stay positive here.)

Thoughts on the DX now?  Still interested in buying it?

Via: birdmanAndroid Police, AndroidFeens

  • Guest

    Well, i'm gonna buy it if it's worth it of course. But i already loved my PSP 😉

  • Guest

    Well, i'm gonna buy it if it's worth it of course. But i already loved my PSP 😉

  • Av1982

    I have always been a moto fan since the startac devices…. I'm so disgusted with moto right now…. They get a second chance at the game with the droid after near bankruptcy and now they are going to F it up cause of greed or whatever other reasons they have for locking the rom down… If they removed the restriction I would buy the phone but their image is still tarnished and I would think twice about buying moto again. It's very easy to lose customer loyalty. Come on MOTO!

  • Eskion3

    Motorola can go to hell, and I'll go to HTC

  • Dapimpx69

    Now i will just wait for the boot loader unlock to be released then purchase the X or wait for then next high end Android phone to be released with a simple boot loader unlock.

  • Camaros_Kill

    After all this hype and excitement, now we've learned that the Droid X is practically worthless…..

    • hardly worthless, mearly not worth much to the root/rom crowd, its still an amazing piece of hardware

      • Camaros_Kill

        A device coming out almost a year later than my Droid that cant do half of what my Droid can do is pretty worthless to me…

  • http://stevenbird.info/2010/07/10/the-droidx-se

    forget it, root is questionable at this point even

  • One aspect I LOVE about custom ROMs is that it has enabled a lot of older/abandoned hardware to get latest/greatest OS revs. The thought that my device is always capable of running the latest OS build that it meets the minimum hardware requirements for, regardless of what Moto or Google plans, is awesome. I don't want to buy a new phone every six months.

    One of the things that attracted me to the Droid was the bone stock UI. I knew this meant the possibility of easier and potentially quicker OS updates and (possibly) a longer period of official support.

  • To be completely honest, I stopped using custom ROMs a while back, and have instead opted for rooted stock images. Even the most stable of custom ROMs (Cyanogen, Bugless) are less stable than stock, and have features that I dislike. I've found that just being able to load rooted apps on a stock ROM meets most of my needs overall.

  • TheGoldenDroid

    I don't care what the argument or how many logical reasons that you give to say otherwise but having a rooted Droid is one of the best technological things that has ever happened to me. Ive read all the comments here and I must say that we all know what this comes down to and its money. They want us running out to buy a new phone every 6 months which is downright greed. And to be quite honest if this is the direction they are going in then Android will be no better than Apple in my eyes!

  • I guess I'll be sticking with my original Droid for quite some time… I generally want “root” on any device I own. The custom ROMs are awesome and will be hard to give up, but some point after my contract is up and Android 4.x units are out sporting quad core CPUs/GPUs, 12M cameras, 500Gb storage, etc, I'm sure I'll “know” it's time to upgrade. I'll at least want something rootable though

    It's kind of a shame, but the lockdown doesn't surprise me in the least, I'm surprised the free for all has gone on for so long. Really, it's been like a dream, IMHO. It's the reason I'm on Android.

    It reminds me of my PSP. I have a Sony PSP and for hacking the 1000 model (the original day one unit) is still the best device, for the most part. Eventually Sony locked that platform down so hard (encryption, entry into the firmware recovery system closed, motherboard revisions to lock things out, etc, the new units still haven't been hacked and they actually suffer for it (bricked devices can't be revived because the firmware recovery system is locked for example).

    It's kind of a shame, when something awesome for hackers and other “self empowered technologists” the megacorps always feel the need to lock it down, but to be honest, we almost always bring it on ourselves (like the dude who used the Linux install capability of the PS3 to do a proof concept that could be leveraged for piracy).

  • Im getting a Droid X on the 15th and I really dont care about rooting it at all. My droid now is rooted running custom roms and all that good stuff. If I really want a droid thats rooted and running roms I would just switch back.

  • We are a small community in regard to how many have sold. I'm willing to bet 98% of Droid buyers now and in the future have not and will never root their phone. Moto/Vzw will not care if they upset a minute percent of the buyers but wouldn't be surprised if they don't already know who is rooted and who is not…

    • which is sad because devs push innovation in the platform, and moto offers no dev phone, but all in all an excellent point.

  • Esper

    u can root but just no custom ROMs…. right? so ill atleast beable to make this phone tether so i dont have to pay that extra 20 bucks,right? and also over clock it,right???? im kinda new to all this so just want to make sure im getting this right….u can root but no ROMs… right????????????

    • that's my understanding… Although I'm a bit unclear on where the line is drawn myself. I'm pretty sure it's the “bootloader” that is locked not allowing custom ROM's, but you are still able to root the device.

    • “…..so ill atleast beable to make this phone tether so i dont have to pay that extra 20 bucks,right?”

      this is why bootloaders are being locked down, and root access is being made harder and harder to find. i wouldn't be surprised to see signed kernals next honestly. While having the option to do so is awesome, and its a huge draw, its logic like this that makes things cost more, and detracts from the real raw power of the dev. community. soon enough VZW and all carriers are gonna be able to differentiate the use of your phones data versus streamed data to another device and then if you arent paying that 20 dollars a month your gonna breach your contract, and that can get you sued, or your contract broken and dropped, this is a silly silly sticking point that we need to get over, it will not last, and we are all gonna suffer for it.

      imo. ofc.

  • Until that bootloader is hacked, I am not at all interested in this device for myself. But we have to remember that the Droid line is a mainstream device line, not just aimed at the hacking crowd. In that regard, I think this phone will be great for the masses of people who really don't mess with their devices much, and think that installing apps is the craziest, coolest thing since sliced bread. Little do they know… haha

  • well im super new to rooting… i watched my friend flash his moto droid… and i was hooked… was suppper pumped to get this droid x… and when i heard i wasnt going to be able root it… i was PISSSED… my question is…. you say its gonna be hard or impossible to root? cause this phone is legit…

  • digitalicecream

    I'm excited about this because after reading the posts below… I'm certain that there will be a few available on launch day for me to upgrade to…. Thanks everyone for changing your mind (and cancelling your orders)… I may get my X on day one after all…

  • digitalicecream

    IMO, If I choose to upgrade from my dInc it wont be because it can be rooted, its because I like the features stock…

    Don't get me wrong… I want it rooted. I guess I'm not as passionate as my fellow droid fanatics. It just means more folks will choose another manufacturers device if they want custom ROMS.

  • cdmoore74

    Yes, it sucks that custom roms are going to be very difficult but at this rate Verizon is releasing new flagship phones on a yearly basis. Towards the year of the year we can start seeing phones with 1280×760 displays and possible 2ghz processors making this phone mid to low end. Not everyone has a family plan but under it I can upgrade the primary line on a yearly basis and give the hand me downs to the wife. My primary plan is to upgrade once a year on Verizon and stay away from Apple/AT&T. I'm just surprised at how quick Google is updating the OS. I do hope for everyone's sake that Motorola updates the X to 3.0 when it comes out or if someone can crack the X. But I will still buy the X on release day. At least I won't burn time flashing roms every 2 to 3 days.

  • Damn… This news has really left me confused. I am a WinMo user who was waiting for the right device to come along to finally make my move to Android, and now I won't be able to customize the ROM? What kinda crap is that? I was totally loving the specs of the DX and couldn't wait to check it out in person to make my final decision. Now I'm not sure I will even bother… Really sucks!

  • 1lionmurrill

    I agree whith Chris Stivanelli 100% I can't wait to get my DX and I don't know the first thing about how to root a phone. This site seems to be taking a turn towards the more technical side. If that happens, they will lose that 90% of the people who couldn't care less about custom ROM. I'm not trying to dog your techies' hoby, I just don't think its a reason to not buy the their phones.

    Hey….just think of it as a techie challange. Dosen't that sound fun?

    • droidaholic

      i get what you're saying but i would say about 40% is unrooted. This site started off as the the best place to learn to root your droid and everything that comes with rooting. obviously the rooted portion of this site started Droid-life.com and all the viewers. theres plenty of other sites that cover just stock droid things.

  • 1lionmurrill

    All this fuss about custom ROM is hard to understand when you're not in to all that. I hope this site dose not become a geek site where all the conversations are about how to fix my custom phone that I just destroyed. I don't even know anyone outside the internet world that does this. Can someone please explain the benifits to rooting and ROM's. Do you get lower cell phone bills, you're apps open a lil faster, prevent dropped calls, what?

    • Banderberg

      The only “custom ROM” worth anything is CyanogenMod as it is built from source. All the others are just themed copies of motorola builds.

      • Mrpicolas

        Not true Sapphire and insane clean rom are completely build from source

  • jo

    i really want the droid 2 but a completely locked bootloader like in the milestone is a no-go for me! please moto, dont f#&! your customers!

    • they arent, they are trying not to [email protected] their pockets.
      sad but true.
      i said it all day, but here goes,have faith in the hack-munity

  • har0

    i refuse to upgrade from in the incredible until the droid x is rooted and custom roms are avail

  • Annoynimous

    I have mentioned this many many times in other forums few months back, the ONLY way to force Moto to unlock Milestone bootloader, which is the long lost distant brother of the beloved Droid, is to HIJACK and BOYCOTT all future Motorola devices (this means forums and blogs shouldn't glorify their devices). You guys must keep up with the news, Motorola reps said “If you want custom ROMS or open Android phones please buy a developer phone like Nexus One, thank you bye”. They practically spat Motorola customers in the face when they released the Milestone, and with such a bold statement, I expected a 150% chance all FUTURE motorola android phones will have a locked bootloader (this is thanks to the MASSIVE sales and support from the Milestone from which the hype created from the Droid has paid off in spades).

    • Great thought but it will never happen. No one ever sticks together for a common goal anymore, its all gimme gimme i want more no matter what.

  • DroidianMax

    GUys whats the point of a custom rom. In my opinion stock android stinks, yes the updates are much faster. but come one people….the guys with stock android have always tried to get SENSE UI on there phones. You can still overclock with root, just no custom rom…..umm who cares. Sense is way better and so is the new moto blur thingy on the droid x….

    • rockymtnhigh

      To me custom roms are not necessarily about themes, I basically use close to a stock theme anyway. Its the fact that you put a rom into the hands of somebody like Pete – and you get an extremely fast rom that is very stable. I run BB.4 and almost always have more than 50MB free memory; that rarely happens with stock.

      But yes, the fact that you can still root and OC makes it easier to take for me. But since verizon isn't supporting the Nexus, and Google does not seem to be pursuing a new version, there really is no option to go to a developer phone. So, I say Boo to Motorola.

  • sheldawg

    I loved my Droid when I first bought it. When I rooted it I wanted to marry it,lol. Imagine not being able to change your clothes (Un-rooted). Rooting is like being able to change your clothes to the style that fits you best. On July 15th a beautiful new Droid will make it's arrival on the scene. Un-rooted or Rooted It is hard to resists it's allure. I'm still under contract until next year, but I'm seriously thinking of buying at retail price. Not being able to root it is going to way a lot on that decision.

  • tom76

    No Custom ROM's = No DX … that's my opinion anyways…I think we should start a petition!!!

  • hickerbocker

    Ok, I just rooted my MotoDroid, should I unroot to get official Froyo? i have the FRF84B on it now . . . will i be able to get the official froyo update while i'm rooted, or will it screw up my phone when i try to update?

    sorry for the mass questioning… i'm new to the whole “root” thing.

    • never unroot, stay with the rom community, they do better that “official” channels lol

      • hickerbocker

        ok, cool. thanks!! 🙂 like i said, i'm really new to this (haven't even been rooted a week yet) and it's kinda confusing right now. hopefully it'll get easier the more i play around with ROMs and such.

        thanks again 🙂

        • your welcome, it will get easier, honestly rom manager premium and a good reading or two a day will help you keep the brick at bay lol

          • hickerbocker

            haha, thanks for the tip

        • Mrpicolas

          just remember to ask questions if your unsure better to be safe than sorry

          • hickerbocker

            yeah, i definitely will! thanks :o)

          • digitalicecream

            And that's exactly how you do it… custom roms = taking full responsibility else = stock OTA updates.

        • I honestly am not sure what more could come from the official Froyo than what you have on that build now, as long as it's a stable ROM. The kang-devs are super on the ball, nothing but love for them. JRummy has been my favorite for a while now. Just read VERY thoroughly and make back ups before changes.

    • rockymtnhigh

      Why? Don't you like running your phone faster than stock? Or having the flexibility room provides? Stay rooted.

    • Banderberg

      No. Wait for CyanogenMod 6.0 and get that.. it will be better than anything from Motorola.

  • Chip Chipperson

    If this phone is as popular everyone is suspecting its only a matter of time until a vulnerability in the bootloader is discovered,

    I say, we need to get together and pull Goerge GEOHOT hotz over to the darkside, im sure he would be up to it, he is always down for a challenge (he cracked PS3) and Im sure is sick and tired of the iPhone now too..

    For me As long as I can ROOT Im good to go for now…

  • I'll Stick With My Motorola Droid 1 Rooted With BBV0.4 =)

  • side note, just clicked on the “via” birdman link, and saw the tweet that informed me of this sad event, so early this morning, and saw my name, man did i feel important! that is all. shameless plug over.

  • Wow…my interest just dropped to zero…here that everyone…we don't want phones that we can't put custom roms on…quit this crap.

    • digitalicecream

      Nice! One less person standing in front of me for a Droid X.

  • Here's the deal: 90% of the people that are pumped to buy the DX (myself included) don't have any clue exactly how to “root” a phone. It was never anything that was of much interest to me. I understand you guys know WAY more about phone operating systems than I do, but for now, I see no problem with the “ordinary Joe” having an “unrootable” phone. But, be ready; once a company starts initiating a way to further protect it's products (from rooting, etc.) it wil NEVER go back. Sooner or later, you're gonna crack and buy an “unrootable” phone…that is unless you want to be sitting on the sidelines using the first Droid when the Droid 14's about to hit the shelves…

    • Balthazar B

      Probably closer to 98%…

    • A bit off topic but it's a lot like EA video games.

    • 1lionmurrill

      I agree whith Chris Stivanelli 100% I can't wait to get my DX and I don't know the first thing about how to root a phone. This site seems to be taking a turn towards the more technical side. If that happens, they will lose that 90% of the people who couldn't care less about custom ROM. I'm not trying to dog your techies' hoby, I just don't think its a reason to not buy the their phones.

      Hey….just think of it as a techie challange. Dosen't that sound fun?

    • EC8CH

      It's actually more likely that a crack will be found for whatever encryption is used. No phone is unrootable.

  • Will only get a Droid X if it has CyanogenMod on it… Seems like that isn't going to happen now, so I'm out. Long live original Droid!

    • moto > samsung imo, all the galaxy class phones are tech beasts, but really really gross looking.

  • With Phones currently in circulation…what if Moto/Verizon decide to start shipping out original Droids with alternate bootloaders. Try not to break ur Droid…don't be surprised when a replacement Droid has that same encrypted bootloader! =O

  • I bet Motorola/Verizon would allow you to load custom ROMs on the DX if you paid them an extra $29.99/mo. =P

    • SHHH they might hear you and my bill is big enough! ^.^, go hack-munity go.

    • Tracy Wilborn

      Just like everything else from big red.

  • 1lionmurrill

    who cares, just give me my DX, keep the upgrades coming, make better phones, and in a year or so I will by another one.

  • scottholstein

    After rooting and customizing my phone, I am no longer interested in owning anything that cannot be rooted. If I were still living stock and didn't know what I was missing, it wouldn't matter. I would buy this device because of the large screen and speed. Now that I know what I would be missing without root access, I would not buy it if I can't install custom Roms. When I get bored of my device, I redo it as I please…that keeps it newer longer to me. No X here. I am still very proud to own the one that started it all….DROOOIIID!

    • droidaholic

      couldnt have said it better

  • Michael_NM

    Is there a risk that the upcoming Froyo OTA update could lock down our Droid classics? Apologies if the answer is obvious…

    • thank god ota is shut down on most custom roms, and further i think the community is smart enough to look before we leap.

      • Michael_NM

        What about folks who haven't yet rooted, and installed a custom rom? Is there potentially enough risk of a locked BL in 2.2 to root now, or risk never being able to do so? Hope that makes sense…

        • i was unaware you could flash custom roms w/o root, so im confused……sorry

          • Michael_NM

            Sorry for the confusion. I'm sure you can't flash custom roms w/o root. Let's see if I can clear up my concerns.

            I'm not rooted. I've been waiting for the 2.2 OTA thinking that I would finally make my rooting decision after that. I am concerned that the update may be locked and that I'll no longer have the option. Should I be worried about this?

          • i thought i got the edit off before anyone read it, lol. Your wording was odd, so i misread it, my edited response reflects my answer, in short, i have no idea.

          • Michael_NM

            Ditto!!! 😛

          • Im going to go with no, as of now there still isnt any real way to root 2.1, so the current work around is to install a alternate recovery, or to downgrade to 2.0.1, I don't imagine installing 2.2 ota is going to change this work around, especially the alternate recovery one.

          • Michael_NM

            Thanks Mike T., that makes sense. BTW, my last initial is also T. 🙂

  • danshipiro

    I think people are really being unreasonable about this. This movement will be happening on most all future phones. The reason is because of the warranty & repair cost they're faced with.

    • Balthazar B


      With all due respect, I'll betcha the development, QA, and maintenance of an encrypted bootloader costs more than any (theoretical) warranty and repair cost. Hell, they almost certainly lost a lot more in shipping mishaps from their factories.

      No, the issue is one of control and preserving the money making machine. If someone tells you otherwise, they're playing you for a chump.

      • digitalicecream

        Balthazar you're right, its about controlling the costs of business. I'm certain you don't know anyone who's bricked their phone… but that doesn't mean it hasnt happened. Moto (or anyone else for that matter) doesn't support the custom ROM scene. They never did, and I highly doubt they ever will. Warranty and repair cost (and frauded warranty claims) are real. And the next time a custom ROM dev replaces your phone I'll buy them a beer (ok but just once.. lets not make this a habit)…

        But lets be honest ok? the phone is yours to use, the software is open source but the hardware wasn't designed to be modified to the extent that it has been. I think its awesome to be a part of this community, but its not a requirement to have the phone. It's all cookie.

        That said, me want cookie.

      • danshipiro

        I will agree with you on preserving the money making machine. The sole reason isn't because of repair costs, my bad for making it sound that way. On Moto's defense here, why would they want to allow this? As a (smart) consumer being able to have custom Roms and whatnot is fun and handy. However as a company its smarter to lock users away from this. The obvious being problems that can occur. In the world of electronics most manufactures do not like the idea of some random guy toying with their software and hardware, its common and smart business practice to allow users to do what is designed and in the limitations of the device at hand.

  • Curtishockey889

    I trust in the community to overcome, and is there anyway to remove/replace a bootloader????

    • digitalicecream

      it can be done, but its not easy and that's what the manu. is counting on.

  • Maizekid

    This is why I will stay with the Droid

  • molivas37

    I will still be picking up the DX. I absolutely love the power of my Droid 1 and have no doubt that DX will exentually have Custom Rom capability!!!

  • This makes me want to buy an extra moto-droid and keep it as a backup…

  • I hope they unlock the boot loader may help us milestone owners. Have any of the other recent motos had the boot loader locked? Is it gonna be standard practice now?

    • moto said it was gonna lock all further BL's, the x is evidence of it, so, sadly, yes…..i believe so.

  • nkhex19


  • The_Other_Ray

    I wouldn't worry too much. There will always be someone smarter out there that will crack it.

  • Kregstrong

    im not buying it now, will maybe wait for the fascinate, sad day

    • digitalicecream

      Woot! that's two people not standing in my line… my day is looking brighter…

  • andrew401

    what these companies should do is come out with two versions. 1. developer version with no warranty ( that will come unlocked and hey if you brick it well that's your problem ) 2. a regular consumer version that can infact come with a warranty but is totally locked down like this device. I don't get why they want to take this away from us? This is basically 75% of the friggin reason i love Android sooo much. I know I speak for A LOT more people then myself also. COMMON MOTOROLA WAKE UP YOUR GOING TO LOOSE A LOT OF CUSTOMERS OVER SOMETHING THIS DUMB!!!!

    • eddieonofre

      I guess they may be keeping the Droid (and hopefully the Droid 2) for rooting since they have anyway the stock android, but since the Droid X has its motoblur I think they wanna keep it that way.

      • andrew401

        nah man totally not true what you just said. first of all the x does not have motoblur. second the droid2 has the same exact software as the droid x does. i have played with both of them since i have a friend who tested all test roms and new phones for verizon well before they come out. it is not blur on them it is just a launcher. i have played with both of them personally and they are basically the same exact phone

        • eddieonofre

          Then it really sucks… I'm gonna stay with with my moto droid til the end
          of his life

    • Balthazar B

      See Josh Wendt's note above explaining why this will never happen. It's silly to think Moto and VzW are doing this to protect the consumer. 🙂

      And if all mfrs and carriers go this route — and I'll be amazed if they're not all on board by the end of the year — there'll be nowhere else for their paying customers to go.