Cyanogenmod on a Motorola Atrix

Installing Cyanogenmod 7.2 on a Motorola Atrix 4G

“Another one of these articles?” you pose to yourself as, no doubt, Google will eventually catalog this page and its contents find their way to your browser. You continue asking, “CM7? Why?” I’ll tell you why and I’ll give brief details as to how I did it as well.

Why

My Atrix 4G has been the best phone I’ve ever owned. The Atrix has good cameras, a fingerprint scanner, a crystal-clean display, solid construction, and (yes!) good battery life! If this is how people are getting hooked on smartphones (it was my first!), then I understand! But, after a year, my warranties were gone and so was my patience with the stock Android ROM.

The real kicker was when, at a Starbucks, I accidentally turned the phone off and instantly turned it on to access my giftcards (electronically, of course). Boot time (button to use) was about five minutes. I couldn’t use this phone because so much stuff was being started! I didn’t have any control over this extra software and didn’t like that at all.

However, I really like having the fingerprint scanner. It’s a piece of hardware for which I had held out when originally purchasing the phone! When I started looking for custom ROMs, I looked for ROMs that would utilize this hardware. One of the few included the well-received CyanogenMod. On http://download.cyanogenmod.com/?device=olympus, you can find stable Android implementations (2.3.7, Gingerbread) by the well-known Jokersax (a developer). The June 16 build is the stable one and I downloaded it.

Install Cyanogenmod 7.2 on a Motorola Atrix 4G

First, you need a computer near to do all of this work. There are (in many cases) examples of running these commands/codes in both Windows and Linux. I am a diehard Linux fan, but I found it MUCH easier to do all of this work in Windows–much to my dismay. So, unless you have tons of time on your hands, do this in Windows.

I began by following the guide found at http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/wiki/Motorola_Atrix_4G:_Full_Update_Guide. But, you cannot use Titanium Backup or make a nandroid backup without root access. With a little bit of Googling, I found the site http://www.android-advice.com/2012/root-the-motorola-atrix-4g-running-4-5-141/. You had probably already gotten Fastboot (from Windows cmd, you’ll need to use moto-fastboot.exe) and the last link builds upon that easily.

If you follow the instructions at the Android Advice site to the letter, the root works seamlessly. Although there are command-line ways to check to see if your rooting (i.e., you allow yourself to become the Superuser–otherwise known as ‘root’ to the UNIX world) has been successful, the easiest way is to download an app that requires root access and see if it works! You need Titanium Backup anyway, so you can try with it.

Now, I returned to the CyanogenMod Wiki page. Again, follow the directions for “Windows” to the letter. Oddly enough, the phone will completely boot (at some point) through to the full OS (that is currently installed). Once you’ve finished with Step 15, a message that says “Unlocked” will appear in the upper left-hand of the display as it boots.

I actually attempted the previous version of the commands through the Linux commands listed and the device had shown that it was unlocked. At this point, however, I was unable to install the ClockworkMod Recovery software. This is highly important for the final block of instructions. Consequently, I had to double back and ensure that I had completed the unlocking of the bootloader, Then, I was able to install the ClockworkMod Recovery easily.

I had a spare 1 GB card floating around to which I had already downloaded the CyanogenMod .zip-file and the GApps .zip-file that corresponded to the CyanogenMod version. When you go to reformat the storage, you’ll clean this card off–that’s what happened to me. So, just leave it out of the SD card slot on your phone. Follow the directions on the link (from the main wiki page) that get you to http://wiki.cyanogenmod.com/wiki/Howto:_Using_the_Recovery#Booting_into_the_Recovery. Note that the Atrix is not on that page. You should

  1. Hold the Power and Volume Down buttons simultaneously as you boot. It will boot into the protocol menus and you will have the option to navigate down to the Android Recovery menu. The Vol. Down button will cycle through the menu choices; the Vol. Up button is the “select”.
  2. Next, there will be a disenchanting triangle with the Android logo. There are no additional buttons or logos on the screen whatsoever. Apparently, you should be able to tap on the lower right-hand corner of the screen and that should be the acceptance. I couldn’t get that to work at all. Apparently, the “Power” button also works just fine.
  3. This should get you to a point where you can do the instructions on the main Wiki page

I’m presuming that when I chose “Wipe data/factory reset” my SD card was formatted as well. Steps 7-9 are basically repeatable. (Although not necessary, it is highly advisable to get the Google Apps installed. This is how you get access to the Google Play store.) You can now boot your phone into the CyanogenMod install.

Conclusion

I have a few things that I’ve thought about in this whole process.

  • Have your phone battery charged when you start and, then, watch your battery. My guess is that running out of battery wouldn’t brick your phone but would provide an additional point of frustration in the process. I plugged my phone back up often through the whole process. It was clearly processor intense.
  • Leave your nerves out of this. I was so panicky originally. I’ve done so many Linux installs on machines and feel comfortable with the process but hadn’t touched a phone in the same manner. What I saw was that if the cmd shows something that you’re uncertain of, Ctrl-C out of it. If the phone doesn’t seem like it is doing something OR like it is doing something you don’t like, pull the battery (as the power button may not work). Just restart your last sequence of steps.
  • Take your time. While a contiguous block of time would have been ideal, I didn’t have that opportunity. We cooked dinner, put kids in the bed, etc., in between some of these steps. In fact, I finished the final install steps while watching a political commentary show.

I have followed up this article on my impressions of Motorola Atrix 4G with Cyanogenmod 7.2 installed.

I hope this was helpful!

4 thoughts on “Installing Cyanogenmod 7.2 on a Motorola Atrix 4G”

    1. Nitin Deo,

      Awesome pseudonym!

      Yes, the first boot takes quite awhile. Let it go, it’s worth it. Each boot after that is a fraction (1/5) of the time for me on my stock ROM.

  1. 🙂 Thanks… Got it working.. And phone speed is transformed like from a 800m runner to 100m sprinter.. Couldn’t believe the leap in performance.. All these guys deserve an accolade…

    1. They really do. If you’re using the Atrix 4G, there are some 4.1 (Jelly Bean) ROMS out there. The reasons I didn’t go to them was camera instability and the lack of software for the biometric scanner on the phone.

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