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I've been considering getting a Nook Color with the intention of rooting it for use as an inexpensive general purpose Android tablet. Before I decide either way or dive into one I went and read a bunch of the development forums and guides, but I still have some questions/concerns about some of the specifics. For starters, I have a few questions about the rooting process:

  • Should I be concerned about the root process failing? I don't want to get a NC if I can't get root on it. Everything seems to indicate this isn't an issue (at least at this moment)
  • If something goes awry, is there any way to recover/restore to stock software? Most phones seem to have desktop upgrade utilities, but I haven't found one for the NC yet. At the least, can I get to HBoot/fastboot?
  • Does the rooting process just require a microSD card to complete, or does the custom ROM actually run from the card? I've seen some unclear info on this, but it appears that the former is generally the case but dual-booting (or booting directly from microSD) is an option as well. Is that correct?
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NPR ran a story on rooting the nook. Referenced http://theunlockr.com/ a lot. Would be worth checking out. –  Alex B Mar 28 '11 at 17:51
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2 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted
  1. The root process shouldn't fail. There is a thing called "auto nootering" which will automatically do the rooting for you. They've been keeping it up to date with each update coming out for the device from B&N.
  2. If the device reboots 8 times in a row, it will reset itself to factory settings. You can find more info here.
  3. You need a microSD card to root the device. Basically, you put an image onto the SD card, then turn on the Nook and it boots that image and enables root access. You then remove the SD card and re-format it (because the image previously will give it a small partition, additionally you don't want it to boot it again after you've already done it once). The Nook Color is setup that it will boot up off of the SD card before it will boot off of the internal memory (hence why this rooting process works). You can therefore have a dual boot with the stock rom plus another rom on the SD card (Nookie Froyo, CyanogenMod7, or the Honeycomb rom). This way you experiment with ROMs and not mess up your stock image. However, it is loading these from the SD card, therefore it will be a bit slower than if it was running off the internal memory of the device. But you can also flash these ROMs to the internal memory as well.
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#2 is kind of fascinating. It reflashes its internal ROM back to a stock system if it thinks it's caught in a bootloop? –  eldarerathis Mar 28 '11 at 21:27
    
@eldareathis yep, so you can't really screw things up too badly :) –  Bryan Denny Mar 29 '11 at 2:11
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I recommend reading up the NookDevs wiki, and specifically the section about rooting. It's a very straight-forward process that is completely reversible.

To answer your questions:

  • If the rooting process fails, you can always boot from the SD Card and start over.
  • There is an official B&N 1.1 stock image floating around that can be used to bring your Nook Color back to its original state at any time.
  • You can run a custom ROM entirely off the SD Card. The NC will run a bit slower (depends on the speed of the SD Card), but you will be able to retain the original firmware. Just remove the card and it will boot normally. You can install a custom ROM onto the internal memory, overwriting the stock image. The Nook will run faster this way. There are also ways to re-map the internal partitions and set up dual-boot, so that you could run both original firmware and a custom ROM from internal memory. A prompt during power-up will allow you to select which ROM to boot into.
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Thanks. I think I'm figuring out the SD card/internal memory lingo, now. It looks like most ROMs are just distributed in an SD card version and an eMMC (internal) version. Is that pretty much correct? –  eldarerathis Mar 28 '11 at 19:18
    
Yes, that pretty much covers it. SD Card versions are safer since leave internal memory intact, but the trade-off is that they generally run significantly slower than their eMMC counterparts. –  Chahk Mar 28 '11 at 20:05
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