Archive for the ‘Hardware’ Category

I’ve hacked computers, office equipment/machinery, guitars, drums, bikes (the BMX kind), PCBs, microcontrollers, ovens, wooden tables/chairs..but I’ve never hacked a cellphone. I got myself a Linux-based cellular device sometime last year hoping to remedy that lack just for a bit, but not until I made sure to actually use it extensively as-is.

Well, “hacking” may still be far away, but I finally got around to flashing this not-so-great-by-default Motorola product. I am, and if not – I choose to be, a total noOb in this area. I found myself having to join a forum and make queries. It wasn’t a bad idea.

Step 1

Check whether you can actually flash your set:

To see bootloader version: Hold [*] + [#] while switching ON phone

To see firmware version: Settings > Phone Settings > Properties (sorry can’t remember the shortcut)

Anything “locked” is not a good sign. For sets bought/contracted in Singapore, you’re most probably safe. I have:


AP S/W Version:

Step 2

Back up your phone.

Everything on the internal memory will be wiped off, so move stuff to the memory card if you have one.

For the phonebook, if it’s not on the SIM, then use a PIM to save it. On Windows, you have Motorola Phone Tools. On Linux, I have Wammu. It fails miserably, yes. So I relied on my “Virtual XP Professional SP 3” to run the Motorola one.

Step 3

Get the Motodev USB driver. I don’t know if the consumer driver works or what the difference is, but who cares? I do know that they’re different – your Phone Tools won’t work with this driver. You can have both drivers installed as far as I can tell.


Step 4

Get the flashing program: RSD Lite

This appears to be a developer-only utility bound by an unopen license, so you’ll have to google it. Don’t fret, though, because you’ll be downloading the latest version of it before you can even search for the latest version of Ubuntu.

Step 5

Charge your phone if it has one bar or less.

Plug in. You don’t need to do anything weird like booting it in bootloader mode. Just normal mode.

Start RSD Lite.

Wait for about a minute until it finds your device and the status does not change anymore.

Step 6

Check out how to flash and keep the steps in mind:

Basically you just select a *.sbf file (press the “…” button beside the input box) and press START, then wait until it says “PASS” somewhere. It took just less than 5 minutes for me for each of the three flashing steps (two pre-firmware and one firmware). You can flash each one after the other as long as they’re successful.

Step 7

Flash the bootloader (noRSA):

The files you need depends on your bootloader version. For me:

Step 8

Flash the bootloader (patched cg31):

Again, for me:

Step 9

Flash a firmware of choice. There are recommendations in the above forum threads.

You can also just see what’s available for yourself:

BUT, but, you have to take note of this awesome thing called “MpkgBox” which allows you run “Mgx Applications”:

When I chanced upon the term “ScummVM”, I knew I couldn’t do without this Mpkg thing, because that’s a ScummVM Mgx port. I mean, WHOA. How awesome could this get?

Step 10

Enjoy your “new” phone (remember: whatever warranty you had is now VOID). You can drag and drop skins and Mgx apps to the folders via Memory Card mode. There are other ways where you can access the filesystem via Telnet or FTP!

But don’t forget to do a reset of the data from Settings after the flash.

Now you can go on and try other mods/flashes to see which one suits you best.


The people behind these mods are amazing at what they do. Special thanks goes to tankrider for helping me sort it all out, and to bestwebs, nikhil007 for creating these awesome reflashes.