Those of you Android users who are looking to add a little more to your existing handset, in terms of ROMs, here’s how you can go about booting up your handset with upto five different Android operating system versions on a single phone. All you need is a simple utility app, called Boot Manager, a fairly large SD card (at least 8 GB or higher) and your favorite ROMs.

Boot Manager is a unique and powerful utility app from ‘www.init2winitapps.com’ and costs just Rs 146 on the Android Marketplace. The app is a multi-boot application, which allows you to boot up to five different ROMs on a single Android smartphone. 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, which 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 requirement. Switching between the ROMs is as simple as selecting the desired ROM and rebooting the device.

These ROMs (apart from the phones ROM) 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. App developers can also benefit those testing their apps on different Android OS versions using a single phone.

If you’re game, let us show you how to 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.
  • Your phone should have the security flag set to OFF (S-OFF).
  • 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 above words can refer to the XDA forums on how to root, S-OFF and install a custom recovery utility on the phone.

Here is a list of compatible Android handsets on which this application will run successfully. Those who have handsets, which are not listed here 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 ‘www.init2winitapps.com’.

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 and the Samsung Galaxy Nexus

Note: Little knowledge about how to root and tweak your android handset can end up with a permanently damaged phone and also void the warranty. We are not responsible for any bricked handsets, while performing this workshop. Do this at your own risk.

If you haven't rooted your phone, yet, this workshop should help you get a better idea of how to do it and how to install a custom recovery firmware.

Let’s begin
Download and install the BootManager app from the Android Marketplace and run the app. You should be greeted with a few welcome screens. Proceed with the instructions on the screen and you shall be informed to initially setup your phone’s original ROM, before installing any other using BootManager. 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.

BootManager installation and backing up boot.img

BootManager installation and backing up boot.img

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 at the initial stage 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 (nandroid) of your phone’s existing ROM, using the recovery utility of the phone before proceeding further.

Adding details for each ROM being installed

Adding details for each ROM being installed

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.

Installing 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’ll find four buttons – Boot ROM, Install ZIP, Manage Slot and Manage UI. Tap the ‘Install ZIP’ button.

Choosing the ROMs and installing them

Choosing the ROMs and installing them

Clicking the Install ZIP button will bring up three more options – ‘Install Kernel’, which allows you to 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. Click on ‘Install ZIP’ and select the zip file you wish to install. You‘ll be asked if you want to wipe the system, cache and data partitions before installing. Select all three and a confirmation window will ask for permissions to proceed, which will be followed by another confirmation for the file system required for that specific ROM that you are going to install.

Installation in progress

Installation in progress

This would either be an EXT2 or an EXT4 file system. Choose the file system as EXT4, if your ROM supports it or else EXT2 should be good enough. The Boot Manager app then starts creating the image files, mounts them and installs the specific ROM into the slot. Keep an eye on the installation (status bar), which should take around 10 minutes. Once it’s complete, you can slick on the notification and proceed to ‘Manage UI’ section of the ROM. When it’s done, click on the ‘Boot ROM’ button and your phone will now boot into the ROM 1 you just installed.

Follow the same procedure for installing other ROMS of your choice in the remaining slots. Boot Manager will also install its app in all the ROM slots, so that you can easily switch back and forth into different ROMs. If you’ve 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. We recommend installing apps and setting up the ROM completely from the start, rather than restoring from Titanium backup, unless you’re well versed with the backup utility.

Booting into the ROM and troubleshooting problems

Booting into the ROM and troubleshooting problems

The Boot Manager utility 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; creating a hard link to the partitions. You can now go ahead and setup the phone as you would do while installing a new ROM.

There might be times where you will witness a failure to boot into the ROM. Don’t panic! If this happens, all you need to do is to replace the boot.img file of the phone to its original place. To do this, remove and re-insert the battery, boot the phone into recovery mode and flash the ‘update.zip’ file located in the folder ‘/sdcard/BootManager/PhoneRom/’. This will replace the original boot.img file to the phone and you shall 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.

Publish date: February 14, 2012 5:19 pm| Modified date: December 18, 2013 9:36 pm

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