A Dummies Guide to Android Terminology and Lingo


ADK: Android Development Kit, What people use to develop anything for the droid such as ROM's.

AOSP: Short for Android Open Source Project, and when the term is used in ROM descriptions, it usually indicates that the ROM in question is based on the Android source code provided by Google itself, and not on some other ROM project or a company’s firmware.

Baseband: In communications and signal processing, the baseband describes signals and systems whose range of the frequencies measured from close to 0 hertz to a cut-off frequency, a maximum bandwidth or highest signal frequency; it is sometimes used to describe frequencies starting close to zero.

Boot Loader: Executes code before any operating system is launched. On Android devices, the bootloader is usually locked because manufacturers want you to use the version of Android they’ve provided. With a locked bootloader on Android phones, custom ROMs cannot be flashed.

Boot Loop: simply means something is preventing the phone from completeting it's boot cycle and is stuck between the boot animation and the unlock screen, creating a looped animation. This is often fixed by either reloading a Nandroid, or Reflashing a rom from the Boot Loader.

Brick or Bricked: Jargon for a completely unrecoverable device, (no more than a brick or paperweight).

Bug or Software Bug: an Error or flaw in software that produces a failure or enexpected/unwanted result. Typically created from incorrect code, this is why some ROMs are better and smoother running than others because certain developers have taken the time to input "perfect" code.

Busybox: An app on your phone that will give you access to additional Linux/Unix based commands. You may need BusyBox installed to perform some root level tasks, and some other apps that require root access may need BusyBox installed as well. BusyBox is self-dubbed “The Swiss Army Knife of Embedded Linux.”

ClockworkMod or CWM: A recovery program that is often used to apply updates, ROMs, or create a back up or restore a backup file.

Dalvik: is the cryptic name of the virtual machine (VM) in Android, and it’s the basis for running apps (with the .apk filename extension) on the platform. Before Android apps are launched, they’re converted into the compact Dalvik Executable (.dex) format, which is designed to be suitable for systems that are constrained in terms of memory and processor speed. Dalvik was originally written by Dan Bornstein, who named it after the fishing village of Dalvík in Eyjafjörður, Iceland, where some of his ancestors lived.

Dalvik Cache: Simply put it is the cache used by Dalvik, and it’s the result of Dalvik doing optimizations of running apps. Some Android ROMs allow you to move the Dalvik cache to your SD card, in order to free up internal storage.

De-odex: Apk files have respective odexes that devs use to supposedly save space. Deodexing means you convert it back to a .dex file and put it back inside the apk. This allows you to easily replace files (not having to worry about odexes), but the main point was to deodex services.jar so that you can change all text to different colors (such as the clock color to white) and to deodex services.jar, you need to deodex everything.

What the frak does it mean, exactly? Well, it’s probably the hardest term to explain in this rooting dictionary...

When a ROM has been deodexed, it means that its apps have been prepared so they can be modified. Deodexed ROMs feature apps that have been repackaged in a certain way. Android applications (.apk's) contain .odex files that devs supposedly use to save space. These .odex files are extracted from the application packages and put in the /system/ folder on your phone, to speed up boot processes and to allow parts of applications to be preloaded.

However, this makes hacking and modifying those apps difficult because parts of the apps have been extracted to another location. Deodexing means that all pieces of an application package are put back together into one file, and it makes sure that a modified .apk won’t conflict with some separate odexed parts located somewhere else. Developers of custom ROMs choose to deodex their ROM packages, since it lets them modify various .APKs, and it also makes theming possible after the ROMs have been installed.

Dev or Developer: An individual that creates, or allters a file in such a manner as to advance the program

Ext2/3/4: This refers to partitions on your SD card. They’re extended file systems for Linux that can be used by Android, usually in order to preserve internal storage space. Many custom Android ROMs require that you have an Ext2, Ext3 or Ext4 partition on your memory card. Ext2 is the oldest type of extended file system, and Ext4 is the newest.

So what exactly is a partition? It’s a part of a hard disk, or a SD card in this case, that’s separated from the other parts. Think of partitioning as dividing your SD card into two sections that have different purposes.

Firmware: A phone’s firmware is basically its operating system. A “firmware update” means that the operating system, the software that controls the phone, is updated. “Stock firmware” means that the firmware is unmodified: it’s the version of the operating system the phone’s manufacturer delivers.

Flash or Flash Memory: To flash a custom ROM, or a firmware, simply means that you install it. So, flashing is the process of installing a new version of the Android operating system, or just parts of it, like such as the radio and/or kernel. Flashing new ROMs is done via the Recovery Mode, usually with ClockworkModRecovery.

Kernel: Central component of most operating systems: it’s a bridge between applications and the actual data processing done at the hardware level. Android kernels are often customized, optimized and modified for different purposes, such as over-clocking the processor or extending the battery life. Custom ROMs usually include a new kernel.

NanDroid or Nandroid Backup: Anyone with root access make a complete system backup. It lets you create a backup of every piece of information on your phone, and it can be restored later whenever you want. NANDroid backups are usually performed before flashing a new ROM, in case anything goes wrong with an update or when flashing, or if you want to return to your previous setup later. NANDroid backups are created from the Recovery Mode often found with CWM.


Radio: It’s the radio on your phone that handles communication, the radio that sends and receives voice and data. Flashing (installing) a new radio can improve your reception, and bring other benefits.

Root: Common word associated with giving a user "super user" access to their phones programming and other various aspects that would normaly not be possible, also known as "Jailbroken" for iPhones.

OS: Operating system, I.E. Windows, Mac, Ubuntu...and Android.

Overclocking: Speeding up the CPU past the factory presets to achieve a faster and more responsive device

ROM: Read Only Memory, a program used to make changes to anything from the look of the home screen, to icons to custom boot animation

SetCPU: This is a popular application for overclocking or underclocking your phone’s processor, making it faster or slower. It may require a special kernel in order to work.

Shell or SSH: secure shell or ssh is a network protocol that allows data to be exchanged using a secure channel between two networked devices

SPR or SPRecovery: A recovery program that is often used to apply updates, ROMs, or create a back up or restore a backup file

Stock: Simply means an un alltered state, such as when you first purchase your phone from verizon, or when you do a factory reset to "go back to stock."

SU or Superuser: When you root your Android phone, you will get superuser access. The superuser or root user is sort of a special user account for system administration.

Terminal or Terminal Emulator: An app that lets users access Android’s built-in Linux command line shell. It’s useful for programmers and for those with root access. There are some Roms that have built in theme and/or tools that are accessed from Terminal.

Theme: A set of icons, backgrounds and app trays that change the ascthetics of the overall look of the droid and its applications

TUN/TAP: Refers to a network TUNnel, opperates within layer 3 packets, or ip packets. Packets sent by a system via a TUN/TAP device are delivered to a user-space program that attaches itself to the device. A user space program may also pass packets into a TUN/TAP device. In this case TUN/TAP device delivers (or "injects") these packets to the operating system's network stack thus emulating their reception from an external source.

Underclocking: Slowing down the CPU mainly to limit battery usage

.sbf: Summation Briefcase File

.apk or APK's: An .apk file extension denotes an Android Package (APK) file, an .apk file can be opened and inspected using common archive tools

.tar: Similar to a zip file, a tar file archives multiple files into one file

.tgz: TGZ files are commonly used as install packages for Slackware Linux

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