How To: Unlock, Root, and Install a Custom ROM on a Galaxy Nexus (Verizon) Using a Mac

Purpose: unlock and root the Galazy Nexus (Verizon) using nothing but a Mac and Google’s Android SDK. We’re a Mac household (with some Linux underpinnings) and I had a hard time finding what I would call a definitive guide to approaching the task with my Galaxy Nexus (Verizon).  I had started with Droid Life’s Complete Nexus Guide but it was primarily for Windows users and I couldn’t get VMWare Fusion to play nice with the Samsung driver. So: here’s how I unlocked my Galaxy Nexus (Verizon) on my Mac.  It only took Google Search and a couple hours in front of the computer and was actually really, really easy in the end.  Much easier than on the PC and much easier than any Mac guide I coud find (which all required me to download a mythical fastboot if I could find it. I ended up just using the “fastboot” that came from Google in the SDK.  Wee!

Install the Android SDK

Go to Andoird SDK and download the SDK for the Mac: http://developer.android.com/sdk/index.html.
Unzip  it and move the entire folder to the Desktop. In the Mac Finder, browse to the: ~/Desktop/android-sdk-macosx/tools folder and double click the “android” unix file (which loads the Android SDK Manager). I  checked the 4.0.3 (API15) box and followed the steps to install it.

Here’s what it looked like after I was done:

Enable USB Debugging and Reboot into the Bootloader

You need to enable USB Debugging on your Galaxy Nexus. Head over to Settings>Developer options>USB debugging and shut off phone (and said goodbye to everything on it).

Unlock Using Fastboot

In Terminal.app on your Mac, head into your I went to my platform-tools folder and ran fastboot like so:

  • cd ~/Desktop/android-sdk-macosx/platform-tools
  • ./adb reboot bootloader
  • ./fastboot oem unlock

Immediately after this, you should see a < waiting for device > warning. Go ahead and plug in the phone via USB and, like magic, it should ask you if really want to unlock it.  Which you do. Badly.

Using the volume keys to toggle my answer and the power button to select I updated the lock state.  (Terminal.app threw a usb_read error but it turned out to be nothing.)

Lastly, toggle the bootloader screen into a “start” button and reboot. Personally, I had to wait a good period of time (did two restarts) before I was in!

install custom recovery and superuser access

Download the latest custom recovery file from clockworkmod.com and a su.zip file (not sure where I got that actually). With the phone running and your usb cable plugged in run:

  • ./adb push su.zip /sdcard/
  • ./adb reboot bootloader
  • ./fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-touch-6.0.2.3-toro.img

Then boot into the recovery and install the su.zip file. Reboot.

Backup Tips and Next Steps

I ended up doing this part of the process twice because the first time the mistake (as I like to call it) I made was to latch my Google account to the phone and do auto-backup and restore of settings/apps immediately after it restarted.  Not so bad if I was getting ready to use the phone … however, the next step in my journey was to make a nandroid backup of the stock ROM.  And I didn’t want a bloated backup. So – if you are also planning to make your stock backup at this point, I wouldn’t let Google restore everything just yet.

The rest of the instructions for flashing a recovery, actually making the nandroid backup, and all else Galaxy Nexus can be found at Droid-Life. I followed these instructions exactly (except where they say copy files to the SDK’s /tools folder I copied them to /platform-tools).

Enjoy! I would recommend AOKP for your custom ROM. It’s what I’m using and has been swell.

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