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Oct 6, 2014

Modifying your Asus Nexus 7 (2013 2nd Generation)

The beauty of the Nexus 7 over the iPad, in my opinion, is that it plays content without discrimination - I can install Kodi (XBMC) on it without a problem, along with several other functions that Apple wish to lock down - and this is without modifying it. Other than features and functionality, the price point for entry into a tablet world is great!!  The Nexus 7 is a steal,

With the upcoming release of the Nexus 9, we will no doubt see a marked reduction in the price of the 7.

 I decided it was probably as good a time as any to mess around with modifying my Nexus 7 - and I can tell you, I am nothing but pleased.

Here is a summary of what is involved.

  • Setup your computer to use fastboot
  • Unlock the Nexus 7
  • Install custom recovery software
  • Install Cyanogenmod
  • Install Google Play Store
My guide is based on Linux, Crunchbang to be specific, but you can do this on any OS.  As usual, I found my information on the internet.  Check here for another guide and reference to Windows use, although beyond fastboot setup there is nothing different.

Setup your computer to use fastboot

The first thing to do here is install Android SDK on your computer, it in turn gives you fastboot and adb on your system.

Update:  Here is a link for installing ADB and Fastboot on any system,:
http://lifehacker.com/the-easiest-way-to-install-androids-adb-and-fastboot-to-1586992378

Following directions from this site, for Android SDK (http://developer.android.com/sdk/installing/index.html?pkg=studio)
  • Unpack the downloaded Tar file, android-studio-bundle-.tgz, into an appropriate location for your applications.
  • To launch Android Studio, navigate to the android-studio/bin/ directory in a terminal and execute studio.sh (./studio.sh).
  • You may want to add android-studio/bin/ to your PATH environmental variable so that you can start Android Studio from any directory.
Regarding the last point, I had to add the environment information, as it wouldn't run without it.
  1. Install JDK -- sudo apt-get install openjdk-7-jdk
  2. Environment Variable -- sudo nano /etc/environment adding the following line:
  3. JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.7.0-openjdk-i386
  4. Reboot, and Android Studio starts up.

Unlock the Nexus 7

NOTE Unlocking the bootloader on a Nexus device will automatically wipe all device data.
  1. Power off your Nexus 7
  2. Press and hold the Volume Down and the Power button to power on the Nexus 7.
  3. Connect the device to the computer through USB.
  4. Verify your PC sees the device by typing:
    sudo fastboot devices
  5. If you don't see your device serial number, and instead see "", fastboot is not configured properly on your machine. See fastboot documentation for more info.
  6. From the same terminal, type the following command to unlock the bootloader:
    fastboot oem unlock
A disclaimer will display on the device that must be accepted. Use the volume keys to cycle through the options. Pressing the power button should confirm your selection.  If the device doesn't automatically reboot, reboot it from the menu. It should now be unlocked. You can confirm this is the case if you see an unlocked icon at the bottom of the Google boot screen during reboots.

At this point, download the Cyanogenmod, or whichever customer ROM you would like - to your download folder on your Nexus 7.

Install custom recovery software

Now you can install a variety of different custom recovery software, I installed TeamWin, not the latest but here you can find the latest, http://teamw.in/project/twrp2/193

  1. Download the recovery software of your choosing to your PC.
  2. Power off your Nexus 7
  3. Press and hold the Volume Down and the Power button to power on the Nexus 7.
  4. Connect the Nexus 7 to the computer via USB.
  5. Verify your PC sees the device by typing:
    sudo fastboot devices
  6. If you don't see your device serial number, and instead see "", fastboot is not configured properly on your machine.
  7. Flash recovery onto your device by entering the following command:
    fastboot flash recovery your_recovery_image.img
    (Where the latter part is the filename of the recovery image)
  8. Navigate using the volume keys and select RECOVERY using the Power key.
Leave your Nexus 7 in Recovery.


Install Cyanogenmod

While in Recovery do the following:
  1. Wipe Data
  2. Select Install
    • Install new ROM from ZIP (browse to your downloaded ROM of choice)
  3. Reboot.
Once the system has rebooted, give it some time to check for updates, once all updates to the ROM are finished, make note of the version you are running and proceed to the following location and download the appropriate Google Play Store APK to your download folder.


Install Google Play Store

Now to install Google Play Store to get back all your application goodness.
  1. Power off your Nexus 7
  2. Press and hold the Volume Down and the Power button to power on the Nexus 7.
  3. Navigate using the volume keys and select RECOVERY using the Power key.
  4. Select Install
    • Install new Google Play Store from ZIP
  5. Reboot.
Now you should be running an unlocked custom ROM on your Nexus 7.