Steps to Take Before Installing a Custom Kernel

installing a custom android kernel
Image Courtesy of Johan Larsson

Once you root your Android device, the next step you are probably going to want to install a custom Kernel, or ROM. There are so many great ROMs and Mods out there that you are almost crazy if you don’t try at least one, but you need to follow some steps before you get to the point of actually installing that cool looking Rom. Of course, these steps are simply advice and you could take them with a grain of salt if you wish to, but keep don’t come crying to us if you end up in a hole with your $700 Android phone!

Check, Double Check, Triple Check!

There are different versions of ROMs for different devices, and some ROMs are completely imcompatible to certain devices, depending on how big the ROM is. Also, just because the ROM is compatible with your basic phone model (such as Galaxy S3), it doesn’t mean it is compatible with the full phone model (such as SCH-R530U). If you have an international unlocked version of a phone, chances are that there is a completely different version of the ROM just for that phone. Read all the information for the ROM before you attempt to install it. Usually your ROM Loader (I recommend ClockworkMod Recovery) will be able to tell that the ROM isn’t compatible, but other times you will end up unlucky.


Backing up your stable kernel is very crucial, especially if you are loading a new mod and are currently on your stock kernel. Use a program such as ClockworkMod Recovery and backup your current kernel to your SD card so you have something stable to roll back to. If it’s your stock kernel, also back it up to your computer in a safe location in order to make sure you can go completely back to factory if you ever wish to sell the phone, without having to dig for stock firmware.

Clear, Reset

Before you load the custom ROM, you will want to clear cache, dalvik, and do a factory reset all within your ROM loading tool. I again, recommend ClockworkMod Recovery. Doing this will help make sure the install is clean and that it can load as quick as possible. Failure to do a factory reset can also cause your first boot to take forever, or possibly not even happen at all.

That’s about it!

Check for compatibility, backup, clear, and reset. That’s about all you need to do to insure everything runs smoothly when installing a custom Android kernel. As long as you follow all instructions, it’s usually pretty hard to screw up your Android device when doing any sort of hacking.

Paul Shirey

Can't talk, playing Xbox.