Apr 17

What I do to keep the Google Pixel’s Android OS up to date

As an ever vigilant pursuer of the most modern yet stable – oh the paradox – software for my daily carry mobile device, I sprung for the Google Pixel around seven months ago.  Having received it five-ish months ago – like most everyone else I waited forever from order / wait to in-hand – I immediately rooted it. Thereby effectively paving the way for continuing my hobby of riding the edge of brick-dom by manually flashing firmware updates. OTA updates don’t work for us hackers.

As any Google branded device owner will attest, the monthly Android OS updates are a tremendous perk over the other guys.  So, with my rooted Pixel, these very updates have become a monthly trial.  Albeit considering my previous LG and Samsung devices, this trial continues to be more or less safe – no more bootloader unlock dev community goodluckery.  Indeed, the practice is relatively routine now that I’ve performed it four such times, and put together a set of instructions that outlines the generalities as well as the odd foibles involved.

Do note that I decided to keep stock recovery awhile back; I forget the posts that convinced me of this, though many safely use TWRP as their primary recovery.  With that said, the rest of this has worked very well for me, whom simply needs root.  Perhaps this step-by-step – to update to the latest android, root, and keep stock recovery – will help others.

  1. Download latest image for your pixel variant (sailfish for 5″ marlin for 5.5″) https://developers.google.com/android/images
  2. Remove -w flag from flash-all(.bat or .sh – depending on your computer’s environment) and save file to prevent the wiping of everything
  3. enable USB debugging
  4. adb reboot bootloader
  5. run flash-all.(bat/sh)
  6. WAIT for it to do its thing!  Doesn’t appear to do much, but it is.  Do not ctrl+c, This may take five to 10 minutes where it looks like nothing is happening. Eventually, phone will reboot when done, and you’ll get a bunch of output in your cmd terminal.  Afterwards you’ll be upgraded (w/o root); go check About Phone after login (and also to let the upgrade finish after boot) to confirm android version change.
  7. adb reboot bootloader
  8. fastboot boot boot-to-root.img
    (SuperSU v2.82-SR1)
  9. system will reboot several times, when it is done you are rooted
  10. (begin optional stuff, for the restless) install busybox pro
  11. turn off phone, turn phone back on using volume down +power to go into bootloader (or adb reboot bootloader)
  12. flash kernel and whatever other root things you may desire

Tethering / Hot Spot capability is all but required for most folks these days.  These are the basic steps (and really the primary reason why I root) to disable the bullshit my carrier imposes on my “unlimited data” plan.

$ adb shell
$ su
# mount -o rw,remount /system
# echo "net.tethering.noprovisioning=true" >> /system/build.prop
# settings put global tether_dun_required 0

then, reboot and profit (by keeping your ~$150/year for the privilege of using your data plan how you choose)

Disclaimer: I am NOT responsible if your brick your phone.  Seriously this isn’t for the meek, it voids your warranty, and scares your (future) children.

Updated for June release NJH47B; same instructions worked for July’s release NJH47D

  • No longer need TWRP at all thanks to latest SuperSU boot-to-root!