You must have used “Fastboot” to unlock the bootloader of your device or while flashing a system image or custom recovery. While you don’t actually need to know about it in detail to perform those actions, but there are a lot of people who actually want to know about in detail. If you are one of them, then this is the guide you’ve been waiting for. In the following guide, We’ll be covering everything you need to know about Fastboot, Why do you need it, how does it work, things you can do with it.
What is Fastboot?
Technically, Fastboot is an utility for your computer system which allows you to write/modify the flash partitions of your phone’s flash memory. This looks very technical isn’t it? Don’t worry, keep reading, we’ve written simple versions too.
Basically, It allows your PC to communicate with your device without it being booted into the Android operating system. However, to make use of the utility you’ll need to boot your device into Fastboot mode.
In simple terms, Fastboot lets you modify certain parts of your phone’s essential files. Manufacturers generally lock these files to ensure safety and security. However, most of the manufacturers allow the bootloader to be unlocked. If it’s allowed, you can boot into fastboot mode, and start making modifications using different fastboot commands.
Majority of people use Fastboot to unlock the bootloader, flash a custom recovery, flash stock firmware and make different changes to the file system or flash memory.
What is Fastboot Mode?
Fastboot mode is a boot mode in which your device allows the Fastboot utility to communicate with your device. The fastboot commands would only work when the device is booted into this mode.
The best part about this mode is, you don’t need to have the operating system installed to access this mode. To make modifications to system level files, you’ll need to have an unlocked bootloader. As we’ve mentioned above, Manufacturing companies generally lock the bootloader for safety and security.
Since most of the manufacturers lock the bootloader of the device, one of the first things people do when they boot into fastboot mode is unlock the bootloader. After unlocking it, they generally flash a custom recovery such as TWRP recovery to perform different actions.
Why do you need Fastboot mode?
If you are a user who is content with their Android Device and does not want to make any significant changes to it, then you probably will never need Fastboot. However, if you’re looking to give your Android experience a complete overhaul, you’re in dire need of it. This powerful tool can give you access to change the very structure of your phone’s software right from the operating system straight down to the very kernel or the recovery.
What can Fastboot do in the Fastboot mode?
Fastboot can modify many of the system files on the phone for you. This can be a modification of the Operating System, the Kernel, or even the simple Splash Screen during your Startup. The possibilities are endless. However, for most of these changes, you’ll need to unlock your Bootloader first. Here are all the things which you can do with Fastboot:
With it, you can modify many parts of the Android system which your phone’s stock Android Software will not allow you to do. These modifications include:
- Unlocking your Bootloader.
- Flashing a Custom Recovery (Which is essential for flashing ROMs or rooting the device.)
- Flashing a Cellular Radio.
- Flashing a System Image.
- Flashing the Stock Firmware.
- Flash a Boot Image.
Any many other exciting features which you can change and modify. We’re currently working on a guide which will include the steps to perform all the above-mentioned tasks.
How does it work?
The Fastboot is an interface of sorts on your Personal Computer which is designed to connect to the Fastboot Mode and give you control over it. That way, you can flash and change files on your Android device from your computer using a few simple lines of code.
In order to do this, you’ll need to switch your phone to Fastboot Mode, something which is specific to every manufacturer so you’ll need to research about it yourself. Next, you’ll need to ensure that you have the correct drivers for your mobile phone and then connect the phone to your PC via a USB cable and launch Fastboot on your computer through your Command Line Interface like Command Prompt, bash, Terminal, etc. From there, you can execute your Fastboot commands.
The Fastboot mode and the Bootloader actually work in conjunction with each other. Once you enter the Fastboot mode, you make desired changes to certain files in the flash memory. These exact files are the ones that are loaded by the bootloader when you next restart your phone. We are basically replacing the files which the Bootloader is supposed to load with our own files. When the Bootloader starts this time around, instead of loading the older files, which have been removed, it loads the newer files which you’ve just added to the phone. It’s as simple as that.
How to install Fastboot
Installing fastboot for any platform has two parts to it. While installing fastboot on your system is quite a simple task, getting the correct drivers for your phone might be a difficult one. Unfortunately, that’s a road you’ll have to explore on your own. Otherwise, here’s how you do it on different platforms:
Installing Fastboot on Windows used to require a lot of effort as there was no separate package just for that, and you had to download the entire Android Standard Developer Kit (SDK) which used to be quite heavy.
Recently, Android released their SDK Platform Tools for Windows, making the job much simpler for all. While this package wouldn’t be sufficient for a developer, this will be enough if you want to use Fastboot and the ADB. Simply follow this link to download the software and click on the instructions on the screen to finish the installation.
Once that’s over, you’ll be able to access Fastboot at any given moment though either Command Prompt or Windows Powershell.
Previously, not unlike Windows, the developers of Android didn’t have a separate package for the Macintosh containing the essentials for Fastboot and ADB. most people had to download the entire Android SDK.
That changed when the developers at Android released their SDK platform tools for those who just wanted to use the Android Debug Bridge and the Fastboot to root their phones and do other things with it.
Just download the tools from the link and follow the instructions on the screen to finish installing the software. You can access Fastboot at any given time through your bash shell.
While Windows and Macintosh had their own shares of trouble, installing ADB and Fastboot on Linux based systems is quite easy. All you need to do is enter the following line of code:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:phablet-team/tools && sudo apt-get update
Once that’s done, you can access the fastboot at any given time through your Command Line Interface. However, in the event that it seems too complex, or doesn’t work, you can always download the complete SDK Platform Tools for your Linux.
And with that, we reach the end of our guide. Make sure to thoroughly research about whatever it is that you’re doing and do things in a manner where you don’t cause yourself more harm than good.
2 thoughts on “A Beginner’s Guide to Fastboot”
You’ve posted a wonderful guide, It’s really informative.
However, It would have been great if you posted the steps one would need to follow to boot their smartphone into fastboot mode.
I’d be glad to help you with the steps for OnePlus and Samsung devices. Do let me know if there’s something you need help with.
For FP2 booting into fastboot mode (or bootloader mode) do the following:
– swich off device ;
– “hold Volume Down + Power. Release when boot logo appears.” (as found in https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/FP2/install) .
In a ‘dos’ box ( WIN+R , cmd.exe ) type “fastboot devices”. That should show an alfanumeric code for your device followed by ‘fastboot’.