Saturday, January 18, 2014

Rooting your Android phone in Korea with Tegrak Kernel

You bought an awesome Samsung phone in Korea, and want to root it. But because it's the "Korean" version and not a US or International version, it's a pain in the butt. Custom ROMs like CyanogenMod don't seem to work. Fret not: here's the easiest way to do it.

In two words: Tegrak Kernel.

Disclaimer: Everything here is my personal opinion. I'm neither an Android developer nor paid endorser. I am just a guy who spent a hellofalotof time trying to figure this out. There could be an easier way out there. For me, this worked, and I hope it might work for you.

I'm not going to lie to you-- there is a huge variety of custom ROMs out there for Korean-model phones. The Korean developer community is, unsurprisingly, extremely prolific. But if you're like me, you don't really care about all variety of custom builds and wacky configurations and bleeding-edge features. Also, you don't read Korean. You just want your phone rooted so you can get rid of the bloatware and make it as speedy as possible.

Why choose Tegrak?

It works on almost all Samsung smartphones, from the humble Galaxy S1 to the Note and S4. I also like Tegrak because it's relatively low-risk: it is NOT a custom ROM per se. It's only a kernel, so you are still keeping whatever stock ROM your phone came with. In addition to giving you root, it has Overclock features and a Lagfix, though in my experience the lagfix is less noticeable on newer models.

How do I install it?

Basically the whole process boils down to this:
  1. Download the files for your phone from the internet.
  2. Install them via Odin (see below).
  3. Install the Tegrek app from the Google Play Store.
That's it.

Tell me more, tell me more

What? You don't know what I'm talking about? Alright, I'll give you a bit more.

Step 1: Though there are many mirrors, hosts, fileshare lockers where you can find the files from a Google search, skip that crap and go to the source. Find your phone's model ("SHW-M110S" for example), and click through to that page. Scroll down.

See what he did here? There are multiple version of the Tegrak Kernel files, for each phone model and even for each Android version for each phone model. Therefore it's important that you PAY ATTENTION here. Don't go downloading any old "Tegrak Kernel Build" files. You need the ones for YOUR phone and YOUR Android stock software. So double-check that you're downloading the right files.

Scroll down to where the files are available for download (near the bottom of the page, just above the comments section. You'll see the little zip-file icons). Again, find the files for YOUR PHONE MODEL. Only the latest verisions will be displayed, so you might need to click the blue bar reading 이전 버전 다운로드 접기 to expand the list to see all the offerings. Check the end of the filename before downloading to make sure that it matches the software version displayed in your phone's "About Phone" (or similar) settings. You might not need (or even be able to use) the "latest build" but whatever.

Download the files. Note that some are in 2~3 pieces, so you might need to combine the files with 7zip after downloading.

Step 2: Shit just got real. Time to flash. You are going to need a copy of the Windows program Odin, which Tegrak conveniently makes available here:
This will allow you to flash the kernel files to your phone. THERE ARE OTHER WAYS TO DO THIS, AND ALSO THIS COULD BRICK YOUR PHONE but it always works for me so please do not complain if it does something wacky. If you are seriously in trouble, there is a lot of useful information at the XDA forums. Search there for your model number.

Turn off your phone and put it into recovery mode (I feel lazy, so Google it yourself to see how to do this; on mine it was holding down the Home button and Power button simultaneously).

Oh, by the way: You're going to need to Samsung USB drivers for your phone and you need to ensure that KIES is not running. How?
  1. Install KIES. Somewhere there is a menu option for installing USB drivers. Do it.
  2. Uninstall KIES. Done.
IT IS TIME. You might want to follow along visually by looking at the screenshots he provides.
Load the Tegrak Kernel files in the "PDA" option of Odin. Connect the phone (which is in recovery mode). The yellow light in Odin should show up. "Start" the process. Let it do it's magic for several minutes. When it's all done, the phone should reboot. Let it do it's thing. Don't get antsy. Hopefully, you're done.

Step 3 should be obvious. Note that there is a free version and a "donation" version. Both are identical except for ads in the app itself, which you will only likely use once. This guy has done an amazing job, so once the process is done (and you've used the free version to set it all up), please consider replacing the app with the Donation version (like I did). It's a couple bucks to bring new life to your phone (I used my prior phone, Galaxy S1, for over 3 years thanks to the speed boost from Tegrak).

Open the app, enable rooting, and feel the rush of power surge to your brain. Enable lagfix and enjoy a speedy phone. Enable overclock and burn a hole in your pants don't bother.

Final thoughts

Again I am NOT an Android developer. I'm just sharing what worked for me. Please do not ask me how to fix X, Y, or Z because I, like you, am just a normal guy who scoured the internet looking for information. XDA Forums have it. I hope this little guide was helpful.

Major props to Tegrak for making this possible. Donate to him, minions!

P.S. If, like me, you did all this and discovered that your Galaxy S1 now had very little space for installing apps (an unfortunate side-effect of the lagfix process), I recommend Matpclub Hackpunch. It plays nice with Tegrak and gave me a much larger install space.

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