The standard Android platform of the Toshiba Thrive tablet can be a bit limiting. If you want to enable a feature that requires you to root the device, I’m here to tell you that it’s actually not that bad of a process. While it’s not terribly challenging, as with any process of this nature, you do risk “bricking” the device. In other words, only root your device if you fully understand the risks.
Now, with that out of the way, gaining root access to these devices offers a few advantages. From my perspective, it adds shell access and a much easier ability to grab screen shots. It also allows some devices to be tethered and other features opened up. Whatever your reasons, rooting a mobile device can be an appealing task, and I want to show you how to do so on the Toshiba Thrive.
What you will need
- Working Thrive tablet
- The Thrive Easy Flash Tool for DOS
- An SD card (this is actually in case something goes awry)
- Windows machine
- Stock ROM — just in case
I have successfully managed this task on both Windows and Linux (using the same Easy Flash Tool) but wanted to demonstrate the process using a Windows machine. So, let’s do this.
Step 1: Downloads
The first step is to download the Easy Flash Tool, and then extract it somewhere you have access to. Inside that folder is the batch file and a sub-folder with some necessary drivers.
You will also want to have a Stock ROM on hand, just in case. This needs to be downloaded, extracted, and then the update.zip file needs to be copied to an external SD card (not the internal memory).
Step 2: Install full drivers to Windows
I will demonstrate this process on Windows 7. In order for the Thrive Easy Flash Tool to work, the full driver package needs to be installed. Fortunately, this driver package is included with the download.
To install the drivers, follow these steps:
- Attach the tablet to the Windows 7 machine using the included cable
- Click Start, right-click the Computer entry, and then select Manage
- Click on Device Manager, and then locate the listing for the tablet (this might be listed as “Other” or “Portable Devices”)
- Right-click the device, and select Update Driver Software (see Figure A)
- When the new Explorer window opens, click Browse for driver software, and then click Browse
- Navigate to where the Thrive Easy Flash Tool was expanded, then into the thrive_easy_flash_dos_vXXX directory (where XXX is the release number), then into “usb adb drivers,” and click OK
- Click Next
- Once the drivers are installed, click Close, and you’re done with that step
Note: If you haven’t installed the drivers yet, the tablet will most likely be listed as “Other”
Step 3: Test adb and fastboot
There are a couple of commands that must be tested before the rooting process can begin. To run these commands, do the following:
- Have the tablet booted normally
- Open up the command prompt
- Change to the \tools\ directory contained within the Easy Flash Tool directory
- Issue the command adb devices (you should see something like xxxxxxxxxx devices — where xxxxxxxxxx is the alphanumeric device ID)
The next command will test fastboot. To successfully run this, follow these steps:
- Have the device booted in fastboot mode (power down the machine, then power up the machine while holding down the Volume Up key, and select the USB icon on the left — there will be three icons)
- On the PC, issue the command (from the same command prompt where the adb command was run) fastboot devices (you should see something like xxxxxxxxxx devices — where xxxxxxxxxx is the alphanumeric ID of the device — or you may see ? Devices)
Step 4: Run the Easy Flash Tool
You must first make sure the tablet has USB Debugging turned on. Here’s how:
- Tap Apps (upper-right corner)
- Locate and tap the Settings icon
- Tap Applications | Development
- Tap USB Debugging to enable it
- Reconnect your tablet
Before you run the Easy Flash Tool, boot the tablet in fastboot mode. Now, open up the Windows command prompt again and change it to the directory containing the thrive_easy_flash_tool.bat batch file. Issue the command thrive_easy_flash_tool.bat, which will present you with a menu of choices (see Figure B).
Do not jump the gun and immediately go for the root entry!
The first step in this process is to install Flash the ClockWorkMod recovery image to the device, just in case you brick the device and want to go back to a stock image. Believe me on this one. I bricked the device without first installing the ClockWorkMod, and it took me a while to finally get the device back to a working state.
So, hit 3 and let the tool do the rest. Eventually, you’ll be prompted to press any key to continue. Once you’ve successfully installed the recovery image, it’s time to root the device. Reboot the tablet in fastboot mode, rerun the Easy Flash Tool, and then select 1 to root the device. You will notice two possible options for the rooted image:
Select the image that you need, and select the number associated with that image. Once the process has completed, your tablet will reboot into normal mode, and you’ll have a rooted device. Strangely enough, the process does not take long at all. You will know if your machine is rooted if you have the Superuser icon in your Applications listing (see Figure C).
There are a number of differences in the rooted image, but the most obvious is access to the Superuser account.
Of course, If anything goes wrong, you can always reverse the process and unroot the device using the same Easy Flash Tool.
Congrats! You now have a rooted Thrive tablet. The next steps in the process, which I will detail in later posts, will be installing Linux on the tablet and restoring it to the factory ROM.