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AOSP Extended on the Motorola Moto E 2nd Gen LTE (Surnia)

AOSP Extended is the blessing we Motorola users have been looking for. If you’re tired of the slowing down of the OS and the excessive amount of storage it occupies, like I was, its time to move on.

AOSP Extended is an AOSP-OMS based rom which provides stock UI/UX with various customization features along with the Substratum theme engine. The project has been made by cherry-picking various commits from various other projects. Being based on AOSP it provides a smooth and lag-free experience out of the box. – ElDainosor

Here is my current configuration:
-Kernel: 3.10.49-MPI24.241-2.35-1-g1552c72 by jenkins@cloudonnou.
-Android: V7.1.2 August 5, 2017 security path.
-No Google Play store installed.

So far, I am happy to report the first time that I’ve stayed on the same ROM for more than 6 months. AOSP Extended lives up to its name, it manages to run quickly and snappily with absolutely no bugs. There is the occasional restart I have to perform about once every week to clear out the RAM due to glitches but that’s nothing compared to the problems I’ve run into with other ROMs.

If you’re ready to go, lets begin! Hold on a second though, just before we begin you need to ensure that you DO have the “Surnia” variant of the Moto E. To do this …….. do that. Once you’ve verified that you are using the Surnia variant, you may continue on your quest.

Your first mission, find the AOSP Extended Surnia ROM.. Or just check this forum post for the download link and more information on the ROM.

Once you’ve downloaded your ROM how you are supposed to get it on the phone? You may be wondering.. Well my friend, we are going to have to unlock the phone’s bootloader so we can flash a custom recovery that will allow us to flash our ROM to the phone’s storage. The bootloader is like BIOS to Windows. It is the first thing that runs when you boot up your Android device. It packages the instructions to boot the operating system kernel and most of them are specifically designed to run their own debugging or modification environment. The custom recovery is the debugging / modification environment. Why do we need to flash a custom recovery? Because the ROM comes prepackaged in a zip file that needs to be extracted onto the storage of the device and we can only accomplish this feat with the help of a custom recovery (the default recovery does not allow for such functionality).

Our first step, as mentioned above, is to unlock the bootloader. Note, unlocking the bootloader will Wipe/ factory reset your device, and will delete all personal data from your device such as apps, photos, messages, and settings. Also, your warranty will be void except if you live in the EU.

  • Download the Android SDK OR Download the Minimal ADB and Fastboot
  • Install the latest Motorola USB Drivers on your desktop. Download here.
  • Go To Settings -> Dev Settings, And Select “Allow OEM Unlock”
  • Put your device in fastboot mode (power off, then press the power and volume down buttons simultaneously).
  • Open Command Prompt on androidsdk/platform-tools/ (Hold Shift and right click and press open command window here)
  • If you have downloaded Minimal ADB and Fastboot Go to C://Program Files/Minimal ADB and Fastboot and open Command Prompt from there.
  • Connect your Phone to PC
  • Type this in the CMD prompt window – fastboot oem get_unlock_data
  • You will get a return string. Copy it. [Right Click-Mark- Mark the text by pressing the shift key-Now press Ctrl+C]
  • Paste all the lines together in a notepad. Remove the empty spaces.
  • Now go to the Motorola Site.Sign in using your Google account or Motorola ID. Scroll down the page and paste the copied string in the field at step #6. Then click on ‘Can my device be unlocked?’, after which a “REQUEST UNLOCK KEY” button will appear at the bottom of page.
  • To get your unlock key, select the ‘I Agree’ option. Note: You will receive an email with your Unlock Key at the email address you used to log in there.
  • Important – Copy the 20-character key that Motorola sent you via email. Make sure your device is connected.
  • Then in CMD type: fastboot devices (To check your device is connected)
  • Then type: fastboot oem unlock UNIQUE_KEY

NOTE: In above command, replace the word ‘UNIQUE_KEY’ with the unlock code that you got via email. Then hit enter and the unlocking process should begin. Wait for a while and soon you’ll see “Bootloader Unlocked” warning on your Moto E. (From https://forum.xda-developers.com/moto-e-2015/general/guide-unlock-bootloader-moto-e-2015-t3045748 By Lucas Eugene)

Congratulations, you have no successfully unlocked your bootloader. Please be aware that you’ll see the “Bootloader Unlocked” warning every time you power on your Moto E. Let us move on to installing the custom recovery.TWRP is the custom recovery we will be using. TWRP Recovery is a custom recovery which is also known as TeamWin Recovery built with a touchscreen-enabled interface which allows users to install third-party firmware and backup the current system, which is often unsupported by stock recovery images. (From https://www.getdroidtips.com/root-twrp-recovery-moto-e-2015/ by Abd Razaa)

Once you’ve downloaded the TWRP image, copy and paste it in your Minimal ADB and Fastboot folder or in your androidsdk folder. Now we begin flashing the recovery.

  • Once again, open a command prompt from your Minimal ADB and Fastboot or Android SDK folder (hold Shift and right click and press open command window here).
  • Put your device in fastboot mode (power off, then press the power and volume down buttons simultaneously).
  • In the command prompt on your PC, enter the command adb reboot-bootloader. The device will now enter bootloader mode.
  • Now Type the command fastboot flash recovery recovery.img and recovery will be flashed on your phone.
  • Unplug your phone and navigate the menu with the volume up and volume down keys. Select Recovery and press the power button to enter.

Congratulations, you should have successfully flashed your recovery. After Installing recovery you may see a warning message Miss matched partition size. Just ignore it. Now that you’re in the recovery, we need to format the phone and flash the new ROM. Seems easy right? It is.

  • (In Recovery) tap on Wipe.
  • Tap on Advanced Wipe.
  • Select Dalvik / ART Cache, System, Data, and Cache.
  • Swipe to wipe.

Do not turn off the phone during the process, it should take about 30 seconds.

Now, we need to put the ROM on a micro SD card and insert the micro SD card in the phone.

  • Go into the folder where your ROM is downloaded. Copy the ROM (it should be a zip file).
  • Plug your SD card into your computer and paste your ROM onto it.
  • Move your SD card to your phone.

Keep going! You’re 3/4 of the way there. The next step is to flash the ROM.

  • In the Recovery, tap on Install.
  • Tap on Select Storage and tap on Micro SDCard.
  • Now scroll down through the files until you find your zip file which should be labeled AospExtended-vX.X-surnia-XXXXXXXX-XXXX-OFFICIAL.zip. Tap on it.
  • Swipe to confirm Flash.

The ROM should now flash to the phone.

Now, here is where you have to choose one of two paths. If you need Google’s services (which collect information about you and is responsible for the slowing down of the OS), needed for certain apps like Youtube and GMail, then you’ll have to flash another zip which is a package of Google’s services. However, if you can live with Youtube and Google+ alternatives, you might want to skip on this step.

The package we’d have to flash is called Gapps. Custom android ROMs don’t come with Google services installed due to legalities so Google provides Gapps as a package to be installed separately after the ROM has been flashed. You can download gapps from here. Beware though, you need to find out what processor your phone has and what version of Android you just flashed. Then you have to select whether you want the full G Suite or just the minimal install. The process for flashing the Gapps package is the same as flashing the ROM. Before you begin, make sure to move the downloaded Gapps zip to your SD card.

  • If you’ve powered off your phone, press and hold the power button and the volume down button. The phone will boot into fastboot mode. As before, select Recovery using the volume up and down keys and pressing the power button to select.
  • Once the phone has booted to Recovery, tap on install.
  • Tap on Select Storage and tap on Micro SDCard.
  • Now scroll down through the files until you find your Gapps zip file.
  • Swipe to confirm Flash.

Congratulations, that’s the end of the line for you! You’ve successfully installed and configured a custom ROM with Gapps. Enjoy your new OS.

For those of us who’ve opted out of using Gapps, there still remains the question of how we can get apps to run on our phone. One app I highly suggest you use is called “Yalp store”. It grabs all the apps from the Google play store and offers them to you to download without needing a Google account. I’ll write a separate post on how to use the Yalp store here (link will become live when I post).

Another app I recommend you install is the Fdroid app. Fdroid is a marketplace where thousands of useful/alternative open source apps can be found. This is where I also downloaded NewPipe (an awesome Youtube alternative that allows you to download videos in video or audio format and plays them in the background or pops them out so you can watch them while you use other apps).

So, that concludes this guide.

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