Rooting a ViewSonic G-Tablet

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Outdated Article!

This entire series of articles is deprecated! Newer ROMs and advanced procedures have replaced (or made obsolete) the information in these articles. This article is retained only for archival purposes.

The process of  “rooting” in not required on the ViewSonic G-Tablet. Just begin with our “NVFlash for Dummies” article which REPLACES these instructions.

Please check out our NEWER series of articles on the ViewSonic G-Tablet: http://bishoptec.com/series/gtab-2/
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Continue at the risk of bricking your GTab! See the new instructions, instead!

— Update (6/13/11): Added info about the internal/external SD Cards and how to get the GTab to properly recognize the internal card. See Part 2, section 10 and Part 3, section 5.

— Update (6/11/11): Be sure to check the firmware version on your stock rom BEFORE flashing the CM7 roms. If you have version 4349 (bootloader 1.2), then DO NOT CONTINUE! You MUST follow the instructions here before returning to this point.

— Update (5/31/11): Part 3 edited (instructions NVFlash & ADB.) I experienced a difficult time when I first tried to root my GTab and that is WHY I wrote this “How To.” I receive a lot of “cries for help” from others who have also followed some instructions on the web that were either poorly written and led them to chose a wrong option – or just WRONG guidance. In EITHER case, Jump down to Part 3 and that will tell you about all that I can do to help you right now. When I have time, I may try to BREAK my GTab and build the instructions for how to clear it and bring it out after a failed ClockworkMod install (where the worst problems are). But until then, whatever I have in Part 3 below is the best I can offer.

— New: Check out my new post comparing the GTab and the Nook Color:  http://bishoptec.com/2011/04/nook-vs-gtab/

These instructions should enable most people to root the device and install a custom ROM to make it what you REALLY want:

For this guide, it is not necessary to technically “root” the Viewsonic G-Tablet in order to flash a custom ROM. You can simply install ClockworkMod Recovery (CMR) & it will provide all the capability. Once the CMR program has been flashed to the G-Tablet, it should remain and future attempts to flash a custom ROM can skip Part 1 and proceed directly to Part 2.

Most of this information is available on the XDA Developer’s Forums. To understand why I have posted here (rather than on XDA) see my article on the subject: http://bishoptec.com/2011/04/xda-developers/

—————————————————————————————–

WARNING: INSTALLING CLOCKWORKMOD RECOVERY AND A CUSTOM ROM ON THE VIEWSONIC G TABLET WILL VOID THE WARRANTY. Also, any data or installed apps will be deleted. Since I have never used the market on the original G-Tablet, I do not know whether any purchased apps will be available for download AGAIN after the custom ROM is installed, so they may be lost also. Recently, I discovered that, using the original TNT interface, when I tried to connect with the Handango apps store, it reported that Handango no longer supports the G-Tablet. This is even MORE reason to root the device and flash a custom ROM.

As with all such guides on this site, this “How To” is presented as a help. Any modifications that you make to your device are done entirely at your own risk. Neither Ray Waldo nor the site/domain bishoptec.com will be responsible for any damage that may be done as a result of following the instructions in this (or any other) guide.

NOTICE: To reduce the confusion factor, DO NOT install a MicroSD card in the GTab’s slot (under the rubber cap on the left side, near pwr button) until you finish with this rooting process & reboot into the new ROM.

  • BE CERTAIN THAT NO SDCARD IS INSTALLED IN THE GTAB. If a MicroSD card is installed, push it into the device and it will spring back out and can be removed. Although this is not absolutely necessary, it will REDUCE the level of confusion about the internal and external SD Cards.
  • After all of the steps in this process are completed, you may add an external micro SDCard to the GTab.

So, read on to find out what you must do in order to root your GTab!

————————  Part 1 ————————

Installing ClockworkMod Recovery

1. Download the ClockworkMod package

2. Connect the USB cable from GTab to Computer

  • Click on the Orange Ball in the notifications area of the GTab
  • Click on the “USB connected”
  • ANSWER: “Activate USB Transfer” & “Activate now”
  • If necessary, repeat this step – until the USB connection is recognized

3. Check your computer:

  • An Icon should appear on your computer desktop, open it and view the files of the INTERNAL MEMORY of the GTab
  • IF a file named “update.zip” and/or a folder named “recovery” exists on the GTab, DELETE IT/THEM.

4. Find where you downloaded the ClockworkMod package.

  • Inside the zip file will be a folder named “recovery” & a file named “update.zip”
  • Copy both the folder & the zip file to the root of the INTERNAL memory (DO NOT copy to any folder & NOT to a removable SD card).

5. On the GTab

  • Click on “Deactive USB transfer”
  • Disconnect the USB cable
  • Power off the GTab – by holding the POWER BUTTON down until a dialog appears – select POWER OFF – and OK.

6. Activate ClockworkMod Recovery on the GTab:

  • Hold the Volume plus (+) button and ALSO press the Power button
  • Continue holding BOTH buttons until some small text appears in upper left corner of the GTab’s screen.
  • Release the buttons and the ClockworkMod Recovery will be installed (you may not see any activity).
  • When the GTab finishes with the installation, it will boot into the normal operation.
  • Power off the GTab.

7. Create Backup With ClockworkMod:

  • Hold the Volume plus (+) button and ALSO press the Power button & continue holding BOTH buttons until the small text appears in upper left corner of the GTab’s screen.
  • Release the buttons and the ClockworkMod (CM) Recovery will be activated.
  • Once the GTab boots into the CM Recovery, a TEXT menu of options will be displayed on the upper left side of the GTab display.
  • Use the volume +/- buttons to move up or down in the list of menu items, click on the home button (or the Power Button) to select an item. Finally, use the back arrow to go back to the previous menu.
  • From the CM menu, select “BACKUP & Restore” — then “Backup” & allow CW to complete the backup process.
  • Go back to the main menu

8. Clear Data:

  • On the Main CM Menu, select “Wipe data/factory reset
  • Select “Yes — delete all user data”
  • Select “Wipe cache partition”
  • Select “Yes – Wipe Cache”
  • Select “Reboot system now”
  • The GTab will reboot and return to normal operation.

9. ClockworkMod is now installed and the GTab is prepared for flashing a custom ROM

————————  Part 2 ————————

FLASHING a CustomROM

1. Download your choice of ROM .zip file on your computer (do NOT extract the files):

  • Download the CyanogenMod 7.0 stable (or newer) ROM here: http://download.cyanogenmod.com/?device=harmony
  • You may find others on the web that work well also but I have not tested them.

2. Download other needed files.

3. With the GTab displaying normal operation,

  • Connect the USB cable from your GTab to your computer.
  • Click on the Orange Ball (or other USB symbol) in the notifications area of the GTab
  • Click on the “USB connected”
  • ANSWER: “Turn on USB storage” & “OK”
  • If needed, repeat this step until the USB connection is recognized

4. On your computer desktop

  • Click on the new Icon and view the files which were downloaded (above)
  • Copy the zipped ROM file to the root of the GTab disk
  • Copy the zipped GAPPS file to the root of the GTab disk
  • Copy the zipped vold.fstab.zip to the root of the GTab disk

5. On the GTab

  • Click on “Turn off USB storage”
  • After the Icon disappears for the computer, remove the USB cable
  • Power off the GTab

6. Boot the GTab into the ClockworkMod Recovery.

(Hold Vol+ & Pwr buttons until text in upper left)

7. Reset User Data

  • Select “Wipe data/factory reset”
  • Select “Yes — delete all user data”
  • Select “Wipe cache partition”
  • Select “Yes – Wipe Cache”

8. Install your Custom ROM

  • Select “Install zip from sdcard”
  • Select “Choose zip from sdcard”
  • Find & Select the ROM .zip file.
  • Select “Yes – Install <yourchoice> “
  • Allow CWR to complete the installation – CW will report “Install from sdcard complete”

9. Install the Google Apps (zip) file

  • AGAIN, Select “Choose zip from sdcard”
  • Find & Select the GApps zip file
  • Select “Yes – Install gapps… “
  • Once “Install from sdcard complete” is displayed,

10. Install the FSTAB file

  • AGAIN, Select “Choose zip from sdcard”
  • Find & Select the vold.fstab.zip file
  • Select “Yes – Install vold.fstab.zip”
  • Once “Install from sdcard complete” is displayed,
  • Use the back arrow to get back to the main menu
  • Select “Reboot system now”

The Viewsonic G Tablet should now boot into your NEW custom ROM.

————————  Part 3 ————————

When Things Go WRONG! (And, answers to other frequently asked questions.)

First, the GOOD NEWS! It is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that you have “bricked” (meaning that it is locked up and is little more than a pretty door stop) your GTab. I don’t recall ever HEARING (or reading) of anyone bricking an Android device that has an official CyanogenMod ROM available – which the GTab does. The process of getting it back to normal function may be quite simple. However, if you messed up when installing the ClockworkMod, it can be VERY difficult.

1.  If you are in a “Boot Loop”: A “boot loop” is when the G-Tab never boots past the 3 birds or some other splash screen – or switches between two of them. Thanks to user Dan Meyers for finding this on XDA (not sure where he found it). Be aware that the SDCard is the INTERNAL card (remove the external card to be sure you don’t reformat it).

  • This seems to be common on the gtablet. Installing of a ROM and it just bootloops at the birds or at the boot animation.  Repartitioning the sdcard seems to fix this.
  • Partition the sdcard: Notice – this will delete everything on the INTERNAL SD Card.
  • Boot into clockworkmod recovery (CMR) (hold the volume + & power buttons)
  • Select “Advanced” – Select “Partition SD Card” – Select “2048M”
  • Before selecting the next option, be CERTAIN that you want to delete everything on the INTERNAL SD Card. When you select “0M” there is NO CONFIRMATION screen – it just begins to format the card!
  • Select “Wipe data/factory reset” and allow it to complete
  • Select “wipe cache partition” (this will delete any previous configuration that you may have done)
  • Select “reboot system”.
  • The GTab should go to the Android setup screen and allow you to configure it to your heart’s desire.
  • If you are STILL stuck in the boot loop, go to the next step (number 2, below).

2. If you CAN boot into ClockworkMod Recovery (Volume + & Power Button)

  • Reboot into ClockworkMod
  • Connect your computer via the USB cable
  • On CMR, select the “MOUNTS and Storage” / “MOUNT USB Storage”.
  • On the computer, you should see the GTab display as an external storage device
  • Download a fresh copy of the latest version of CyanogenMod (currently 7.0.3) & copy it to the Root of the INTERNAL SD Card.  Note, REMOVE and do NOT use the external SDCard until you have finished with the ROM Flashing.
  • Repeat PART 2 of the instructions (above)

3. If you can NOT boot into ClockworkMod Recovery

If this describes your situation, it is very likely that you have tried to flash a rom (based on the 1.1 bootloader) on a GTab that had the 1.2 bootloader installed. Visit my post about that (here).

To clear up the problem, it will be necessary to use either NVFlash or ADB. Both are more difficult to install than I can describe quickly here. Here are the links that I have found where others have provided instructions:

  • NVFlash: Visit this post by Roebeet for instructions. – This is the process that I used to clear my GTab when it was locked up (when I first started). It is a bit difficult — but manageable. Just follow the steps and you should be able to clear it up. When you are back to the ORIGINAL 3588 rom (bootloader 1.1), return here and start over with Part 1 above.
  • ADB: http://forum.xda-developers.com/archive/index.php/t-919425.html – This is what most of the “experts” on XDA seem to use. I was able to get it to execute on my Linux box but I could not get it to connect to my GTab. I hope you can do better than I.
  • Help Others: If you are able to clear up your GTab with either of these applications,  please write down the steps of the process (where they vary from the link above) and provide them to us here so others can benefit from your work. If the instructions are very clear and need no editing, then report that in the comments below.

4. If your Windows computer will no longer connect to the GTab with the USB cable.

A. In  NORMAL operation, the GTab USB connection works in two modes: Debug and Storage. On the GTab, visit Settings / Applications / Development to set up the Debug if you want to use that (with ADB). I recommend that you turn Debug OFF unless you specifically need to use it.

  • For USB STORAGE (transfer files), Just connect the GTab to the computer with the USB cable. Immediately, the GTab will display an entire screen announcing that the USB is connected. If the screen does not appear, the notifications bar will display the little USB symbol, just expand the notifications & click on the USB notification.
  • At the “USB Connected” screen, click on “Turn on USB storage” and you are set.
  • If you use Ubuntu/Linux (as I do), this is automatic. If you are using Windows, then you may need specific USB drivers for Windows to recognize the GTab. (The universal drivers included on XP & later should work fine but Windows may do strange things at times.)

B. Windows will often get the USB drivers messed up for unusual devices – such as Android devices. If the Windows Device Manager reports a broken or error-ing device, it is generally pretty easy to fix:

  • Delete the GTab Device (in Windows Device Manager) – Note: you can delete almost any device in Device Manager and reinstall it as you did the first time you connected the device.
  • Shut EVERYTHING down using the proper shut-down steps for the device (computer & GTab)
  • Turn both back on and, after logging into both computer and GTab, connect the GTab to the computer with the USB cable.
  • Windows will likely recognize that the GTab is attached & install the drivers (again)

C. Insert a MicroSD Card in the slot on the GTab and retry the USB connection.  Your computer should now recognize the GTab and offer to connect to both the internal and external SD Cards on the GTab.

D. If you still cannot connect to the USB, try this (thanks to user Josh):

See the forum post here: http://forum.cyanogenmod.com/topic/24472-no-usb-or-sd-card-detected/

  • I downloaded the “vold.fstab.zip” file that they have there in that forum, (also, here)
  • Put it on the tab in the “/mnt/sdcard/” directory.
  • Then, I used clockword mod’s “Install ZIP from SDCard” option and selected that .zip file and it installed it and I rebooted.

When it came back up, I now have files in my /sdcard/ folder and the tablet treats it like it did with the factory settings once again (a good thing in this case) as I can now download files and write to the internal memory just fine. It treats it like an sdcard.

5. My GTab cannot save anything to my internal SD Card. This can show up if you do not have an external card – you may get a notice that there is no space to save a file. Or, if you do have an external card, the system uses it and refuses to save anything to the internal card. In the File Manager app, the “SDCard” is actually the INTERNAL card. The “EMMC” folder displays the external MicroSD Card. If you are having problems with the internal card not storing data, complete steps 4.d (above, under USB issues). That should also clear this issue.

6. When should I delete the cache or reset to factory?

  • As long as you are replacing a similar rom it is not necessary to reset and clear the cache. If you DO reset and clear the cache, it will delete all of your configuration & settings. This is a good idea if you are having trouble with the installation. However, if you are simply upgrading, it is not necessary and generally not desired.
  • Clearing the dalvik cache does not appear to cause any data loss but it will help sometimes. I don’t know what it does exactly. My understanding is that the dalvik cache is the virtual machine (vm) that Android runs in but that may be wrong. If anyone has a better knowledge, please leave a comment.

7. Do I need to install Google Apps: Many roms require that you reinstall gapps each time you flash a new rom, while others seem to leave them on the device like any other App or personal data. Best plan seems to be to just install the most current version each time you flash a rom. If you fail to flash the GAPPs and the new rom requires it, you will not see the GMAIL app when you first boot. If that is the case, just reboot into CMR and flash the GAPPs according to Part 2, number 9.

8. I get a lot of “Force Close” dialogs.

  • If you are having trouble with apps not loading and a dialog asking to “Force Close”, try using the CWM Recovery option to “Fix Permissions” on the SD Card. It will often clear the problem.
  • BUT, even though the CM7 rom is “stable” that does not mean that everything is working perfectly. That is a trade off – you get cutting edge performance and functions but not everything works perfectly. The alternative is the OEM TNT interface – which is not much of an alternative (IMHO).

9. How to I start over with the OEM Rom?

  • I cannot guarantee that the device will pass “muster” for a warranty return after you restore the device to the original firmware but it will get you back to a STANDARD configuration. From there, you can start the process again and clear up any errors that you had previously injected.
  • Find a copy of the original ROM and flash back to that. Here is a link that appears to work :http://www.mediafire.com/?97o1jc7ceth8hp7. I believe that this will eliminate the CWM Recovery. If so, I doubt that anyone could tell that the device had ever been rooted.
  • If you wish to try again to flash the CW7 ROM, after you get back to original, just start over – you will probably have to install CM Recovery (part one of the instructions.)
  • Here is the link to the XDA “Start-Over” guide: http://www.androidtablets.net/forum/viewsonic-gtablet-technical/12114-how-wipe-your-gtablet-start-over-recover-brick-not-noobs.html
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3 Responses to Rooting a ViewSonic G-Tablet

  1. Chong says:

    I was able to root with ease. Thanks to the clear step by step instructions. I lost some of the old apps, which is no big deal. I was trying to download kindle and it just wont work. What can I do?

  2. John says:

    Thanks for the help. Guess I should have walked away before trying again. Everything went very smoothly and quickly after I removed my head from my anal opening.

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