Complete Guide to Rooting Nexus S
By on December 19th, 2010

Earlier we had posted a guide on Rooting the Nexus S. While the guide works well on 32-bit Windows systems, the USB drivers for 64-bit OS are flaky and more often than not, putting the device in fastboot mode will result in a cryptic “waiting for device” error message.  The information for fixing this is available on the web, but scattered. So here’s a complete guide to help you root your Nexus S.

Prerequisites

Before we start, you’ll need the below software

  • Android SDK Download the Android SDK From here. Don’t download the drivers, we’ll download them from the SDK
  • PDANet drivers these are required to detect the Nexus S in fast boot mode.
  • Clockwork Recovery Mod We’ll use this to install Superuser which provides root access
  • Superuser application This grants super user access ( aka root access) to the applications which require them.

Actual Steps

Enable USB debugging mode in your Nexus S. To do this tap on the grid icon > Settings > Applications >   Development. Now ensure checkbox against USB debugging is checked. Now, extract the compressed SDK files to a directory ( say, c:\android). Now, launch SDK Manager.exe from c:\android. Click on Available Packages and install Google USB driver package. Now connect the Nexus S to your computer. When prompted, do not Enable USB storage on your Nexus S. Right click on My computer,   then click on Manage & double click on Device Manager. The Nexus S should show up as an unidentified device

Right click on it , then click on   Update drivers and Browse My Computer

Now, point to the location of the USB drivers. It should be C:\android\google-usb_driver assuming that the Android SDK is installed at c:\android. Click Next, and proceed with installation of drivers. Now open a command prompt, type the following:
cd\

cd\android\tools

adb devices
adb devices should show a serial number indicating that the device has been identified.

Now, we’ll install PDANet drivers to ensure that Nexus S gets identified during fastboot mode. Follow along the instructions during PDANet installation. You’ll be warned about unverified drivers, ignore it and choose to install the drivers. Once installation is complete, head back to the command prompt.

Put the device in fastboot mode by typing in

adb reboot bootloader

Your Nexus S is now in fastboot mode. The PDANet drivers should get installed automatically now and Windows should identify the device ( instead of the waiting for deviceprompt).

Next, unlock the bootloader by typing

fastboot oem unlock

You should get feedback similar to the one in the below screenshot.

Next, we’ll install the Custom recovery which will setup up root access. Copy the clockwork image file to c:\android\tools. Flash the recovery mod by typing

fastboot.exe flash recovery <name-of-the-recovery-mod>

Now, move the superuser application to the phone by typing

adb push <path-to-super-userapplication.zip>   /sdcard/update.zip

Replace <path-to-super-userapplication.zip> with the actual location of the file.

Now, start your Nexus S in recovery mode by first switching it off, and then holding Volume up+Power key. The device will boot in fastboot mode, and choose the recovery mode. Once in recovery mode, navigate to Mounts & Storage menu & then choose mount /sdcard. Go back now,   and choose apply   /sdcard/update.zip. Choose Yes Install in the next menu. You should see install from sdcard complete! message. Choose reboot now.

Congratulations, your Nexus S is now rooted.

Conclusion

The steps are little bit verbose since I’m writing this from a Android newbie point-of-view ( I’m an Android newbie). Looking back it really isn’t that complicated I had to look at several sources and pester fellow Techie-Buzz author Rajesh to get it done. I hope this article will help you root your Nexus S without having to hunt & peck for information. Drop a comment if you have any questions.

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Author: Sathya Bhat Google Profile for Sathya Bhat
Sathyajith aka "Sathya" or "cpg" loves working on computers, and actively participates in many online communities. Sathya is a Community Moderator on Super User, a collaboratively maintained Q&A site which is part of the Stack Exchange network. Sathya also contributes to and is a Super Moderator at Chip India Forums. While not writing SQL queries or coding in PL/SQL, Sathya is also a gamer, a Linux enthusiast, and maintains a blog on Linux & OpenSource. You can reach Sathya on twitter.

Sathya Bhat has written and can be contacted at sathya@techie-buzz.com.
  • Walter

    what about Paul’s Superboot shortcut? Could you incorporate that into the instructions? It saves people the trouble of adb. http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=882333

    • Walter

      also, you left out a lot of ‘\’ between android\tools and also adb is in platform-tools now with the latest sdk.

      • http://sathyabh.at Sathya Bhat

        Hm, WordPress seems to have stripped it off. adb is present in both tools as well as platform-tools.

    • http://sathyabh.at Sathya Bhat

      @Walter: That post wasn’t up when I had composed it. I’ll see if I can add it to the post.

      Thanks for pointing me to it.

  • Al Roy

    I tried to install the USB driver, as per the above instructions. The result was a popup that reads: “The folder you specified doesn’t contain a compatible software driver for your device. If the folder contains a driver, make sure it is designed to work with Windows for x64-based systems.”

  • anthony

    where is this clockwork file i need to copy over to the tools?

    • http://sathyabh.at Sathya Bhat

      It’s linked in the post.

  • zorrell

    am i supposed to download the sdk on my computer or phone

  • Guest

    Thanks for this. Couldn’t get my SNS working with the modified Google USB driver and not a single other SNS guide on XDA mentioned anything about the PDANet driver or what to do in this situation.

 
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