Extended Guide To Rooting the MotoACTV

  1. Before You Root
  2. Root Procedure
  3. Post-Root Notes, and What Still Needs Work

1. Before You Root

_ Things *NOT* to do with your MotoACTV (Read First!) _

  1. Never issue the adb/fastboot command "adb reboot-bootloader" or "fastboot reboot-bootloader". This will often put your device into a fastboot loop that is extremely hard to get out of.

  2. Never begin flashing ANYTHING unless your device has 60% charge or greater. Try for 100% full charge every time.

Before you root there are some things that would be helpful if you have knowledge of them. A general understanding of Android and the ADB toolkit will be very helpful. From the XDA discussion, its clear that some people have had issues when attempting to root the device. Another issue that is also noted is that the root requires going into a 'Fastboot' mode to load a customized image file. The fastboot mode seems to be able to drain the battery of the device much faster so if you do attempt any root procedure, you're going to want to minimize the time spent in the fastboot mode and be sure you've brought the device out of Fastboot mode when you're done rooting or attempting the root. Some people have also ended up in boot loops and there are a couple of remedies discussed for that issue as well.

Jay4255's advice for fastboot boot loop exiting:
  1. Run the battery completely out. Easiest way to do this is just leave it in fastboot mode until it turns off.
  2. Plug it in TO A WALL OUTLET to charge, it'll look like it's coming on, but should show the Moto Logo then a battery.
  3. Wait until you get a full charge.
  4. Boot into Fastboot mode, flash boot.img, run the command "fastboot -w" and "fastboot reboot"

Alternatively, try this: Hold down Volume Up + Volume Down + Start + Power for around 5 seconds.

Non-fastboot boot loop issues? You're probably going to need to re-flash a boot image. More details soon.
TODO: add more to the boot loop help section here. See also: the XDA forum on the left or the IRC channel if you end up in a boot loop.

* Your warranty is now void.
* I am not responsible for bricked devices, dead SD cards,
* thermonuclear war, or you getting fired because the alarm app failed. Please
* do some research if you have any concerns about features included in this ROM
* before flashing it! YOU are choosing to make these modifications, and if
* you point the finger at me for messing up your device, I will laugh at you.
Please realize your are doing this at your own risk. No one at XDA or anywhere else is responsible for your actions. If you are not comfortable doing this on your own then don't do it, or find an expert that can help you.

1.5 If you run into problems with drivers not installing properly

I tried to root my motoactv and somehow got down a very bad path where everytime I plugged the device in, it would try to install drivers, but they wouldn't install correctly. Installing the following driver/app from motorola (before plugging the device in again) fixed the problem:
This overwrites/fixes the registry? so that the device drivers can be installed properly. By using this, I was able to get me Motoactv recognized again and rooted.

2. Root Procedure

Note: The root procedure may change in the future since there is a new firmware update that seems to remove the compatibility of rooting that existed with the 4.x versions of the MotoACTV stock firmware. It's reccomended to be on the original 4.x firmware which seems to guarantee having the 3.11 Fastboot Loader dialog on the phone. Avoid updating the firmware to any 5.x versions if you are attempting to root. There are known issues and incompatibilities with the latest 5.x firmware, so don't let the MotoACTV upgrade if you are prompted. Also, this procedure is different than most phone methods since there is originally no custom recovery mode on the device-- this is something that now can be added thanks to utkanos and CEnnis91.

The original knowledge for rooting the MotoACTV came from Wade on the website www.cmw.me-- he made no claims about the compatibility of his root image with the 16GB model, however, several users on XDA have successfully rooted their 16GB devices using his original guide for the 8GB model.

The overall procedure for rooting with the 4.x firmware is to enter fastboot mode and then flash over and install Wade's custom boot image file onto the device and then use the zergRush method of rooting and then adb pushing to add apps and system apps. If done correctly, the procedure only takes a few minutes to go from OEM stock to rooted with custom firmware boot.img file supplied by Wade. Please be sure to have your device charged and at 100% before attempting to root the MotoACTV.

If you are not comfortable with using adb or the command prompt then it is advisable to follow this guide provided by ClearD:

Root your device with the MotoACTV Root Tool by ClearD. Just follow the steps, in order of the numbers. Be sure to have your battery charged to 100% before beginning.
1. Flash the new modified boot image.
2. Back up your existing ROM.
3. Root the device. This will add the su binaries, the Superuser app, Busybox, and the alpha release of the Clockworkmod recovery, by utkanos and CEnnis91.
Note: It's as simple as that-- and if you mess up, there's always the "Return to Stock" button. :)

Note: There is an issue with the superuser app regarding the device's screen size. In order to grant superuser permissions to the device, you will need to open the superuser app, press the Menu button, press Permissions, then press Automatic Response, and set to Always Allow. Although not ideal, it will allow you to grant root permissions. Since the MotoACTV has no cellular hardware (can't make calls, can't send texts), it is generally safe.

OR if you want to do it the old fashioned way then you can try using Wade's guide (originally from http://cmw.me/?q=node/55 ):

NOTE: this will only currently work with the 8GB model. I haven't made patches for the 16GB model *
(* Note From Wikispace editor: There has been some success with 16GB model using this guide, specifically if you're at the 4.55 or 4.56 firmware level, from the editors own experience with their 16GB model )
2nd NOTE: Confirmed by Suunnittelija (25.4.2012): Rooting by using MotoACTV Root Tool V1.1.5 works for 16GB model with 1.6.6 firmware.

Start by making sure your on the Motorola firmware version 4.55.78. Download the patched boot.img I made here.
Turn off the device and hold the power key and the start key for 3 seconds then release. You should see it now in fastboot mode like this. Editors Note: The device will not show up in the command 'adb devices' yet, so don't check

This is the MotoACTV in fastboot mode.
This is the MotoACTV in fastboot mode.

Once in Fastboot mode plug usb into your computer and run the following fastboot commands (shown below):
- fastboot devices
- fastboot flash boot boot.img
- fastboot reboot

Note: The boot.img file should be in the same directory the fastboot command is in... usually your somewhere in your ADB folder.

MotoACT Fastboot Commands In Windows Command Prompt
MotoACT Fastboot Commands In Windows Command Prompt

Once the system has rebooted you should be able to establish a connection using adb (like any other android phone/device).
I was able to root it via adb using the zergRush exploit. For the general user it's likely easiest if you use a tool such as SuperOneClick.

Once you have rooted make a backup image of your system partition as there is no stock image available. You can do this by running the following command as root on adb shell.
- dd if=/dev/block/mmcblk1p18 of=/sdcard/system.img bs=1024 count=159616
then exit adb and type:

- adb pull /sdcard/system.img system.img

If for any reason you corrupt your system partition you can reflash it via fastboot by using the following command.
- fastboot flash system system.img

Important: Grab the back up of 'system.img' from the device and save it some where safe.

Now you can load a launcher using the adb install command.
You can also remove the default launcher by remounting the file system and saving the launcher to the sdcard partition. Only do this after you have a launcher installed. I used the Honeycomb Launcher 1.8.

- mount -t ext3 -o remount,rw /dev/block/mmcblk1p18 /system
- cp /system/app/Launcher2.apk /sdcard
- rm /system/app/Launcher2.apk

To get the default google apps like Market Place and Maps. Grab from Cyanogenmod
To reenable mass storage and sync with the Motorola tools run the command stop adbd on an adb shell.

(End of Wade's original guide from http://cmw.me/?q=node/55)

Editors Note:
I recommend using the latest version of Jay4255's EasyModder Script for installing any custom launcher, and I don't recommend uninstalling the default launcher as Android will detect and prompt you as to which launcher you'd like to use until you select a default making it an unnecessary step that some people have had problems with (they most likely didn't correctly install a second launcher).

If you have problems you can try using the XDA forum or the IRC channel to get more help with your specific problem (see the right hand navigation near the top of this page for more details).

3. Post-Root Notes & What Still Needs Work

Although Wade mentions installing the market, which you can do, no one has been able to get it working without issue or FCs to my knowledge. There is currently an XDA thread with a $200 or more bounty for a working Market setup. One work around is to install the Amazon Market which isn't ideal, but does work. Another work around that XDA users have recommended is installing the app Dropbox and using it to move App / APK files directly to the device (also not ideal). Once someone comes out with a custom ROM for the MotoACTV this will probably not be an issue, so there seems to be two possible fixes for this issue at the moment.

Personally, I use Jay4255's EasyModder script (currently at version 1.2) to install apps and pull the APKs from my phone or APKTOPs website depending on what can be found. We will be linking recommend / known working apps from this wiki at some point soon in the future.

There are many resources out there to find APK files that you can try using with your MotoACTV once you've gotten set up and rooted (transfer them from your phone after installing using a file browser app, or apktops.com, or search for APK files using Google, etc.)