You might not know it, but Chainfire’s CF-Auto-Root has changed a lot over the years. Gone are the days when the CF-Auto-Root tool modifies the system partition, and now everything is done as a systemless root since the Samsung range is updated to Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The outlook is cloudy given that the systemless root method was developed quite a while ago, but Chainfire reverted to the older method of modifying the system partition due to some complications. Now though Google has firmly decided they would increase the security on Android 6.0 Marshmallow software updates and that has lead to the old method for becoming a root user no longer working and Chainfire having to make the official switch to the systemless root method.
The systemless root method is not something you need to be concerned about; you can still do things the same way you were doing them before. However, you can take some advantages away from it if you want to know. For example, if your device is rooted with the systemless rooting method, you no longer have to flash the stock ROM using the Odin flashing tool to unroot the device. Instead, we can get it done by just applying a factory reset. That could also prove to be a downside too if you are one of the people who just wanted to implement a hard reset and keep the root access, so it just depends on what side of the fence you are on. There is more to it than just that, though: you also can keep root access after OTA updates easier than you could before. Chainfire has released a new application called FlashFire. In fact, it has been in beta testing for a while now, but it is now an official app available from the Google Play Store for people to download. Even though it is still fresh and won’t work for everyone, there are over a hundred thousand downloads so far and plenty of enjoying the perks of the FlashFire app.
The FlashFire application has come about because of the way the Android security has changed which then allowed for the systemless root and for the ability to keep OTA updates, but nobody knows what the future holds. It is possible that Google changes the Android security once again, and people need to find the nearest rooting guides again. One thing we do know is for sure: gone are the days when you can look for a rooting guide on a Samsung device that is not based on a software version and automatically assume that it is going to work. We firmly recommend including the software versions in your searches, and that is why we have this guide that allows you to root the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow software updates.
Each version of the CF-Auto-Root tool by Chainfire is always based on a particular firmware version. In this case, that is the MMB29K.N920SKSU2BPAF firmware build number. That means Chainfire was running the MMB29K.N920SKSU2BPAF firmware on his Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone when he created the rooting method for the SM-N920S model number. That is about all you need to know about it though because you do not need to be running that same firmware on your smartphones. Chainfire just includes the information about the firmware build number because sometimes a Samsung smartphone like the Galaxy Note 5 can be stubborn and refuse to boot old images. That when the build number can be used as guidelines to the time frame that he created the rooting method, and you might use that to flash something similar. Chainfire has told us that he expects this version of the CF-Auto-Root tool to work on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 SM-N920S when it is running any version of the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow software updates.
What Is Rooting the Android Operating System?
When you buy a new smartphone, you might not know it, but the Android operating system is in a “locked” state. For the most part, it will not make much difference to you: most apps are still available to use, and there are benefits to this locked state such as better security. When you root the Android operating system, you are gaining full administrative rights over the OS.
Why Would You Want to Root Android?
Gaining full administrative rights over the operating system has some perks to some people. For example, out of the millions of applications available on Google Play, some of them will not be able to run on your device unless it has root access. Until you have a specific need for wanting Android rooted, you probably want to leave Android as it comes out of the box. But if you need to unlock an app, then that is when you want to look into rooting methods. Using more apps is only one example of why you may want root access, here is the full list of benefits:
- Unlock more applications. Some of the apps available for Android cannot run unless you have root access. This is because the app’s features cannot run without the root permissions because the features require the full system access before they can be useful.
- Better battery life. Smartphones are great, but they have one caveat, which is each time you recharge the battery, it loses some of its overall lifespan. That means smartphones, in general, do not make great investments, and if your weekly paycheck is low, you will want to limit the number of smartphones you go through. One of the ways you can do that is by removing bloatware and creating a better battery life.
- Bolster performance. If you are the budget-conscious shopper, you may want to increase the device’s performance. This can be done by removing the bloatware as well. The more processes you have running, the more memory that is used. By removing some of the apps, it can help lighten the load on your hardware.
- Customize Android with themes. With root access, you can download and install any theme that’s at your disposal. That includes any customized theme you can find.
What Are the Risks of Rooting?
If you are buying a smartphone that is not running iOS, then it is probably the Android operating system that you want running as the ideal software to pair with your shiny new hardware. It is, in fact, the Android OS that offers you the chance to customize the OS considerably more than iOS: custom themes, run any app you know about, the works. For many users, the “openness” of an operating system is important, because it offers them more freedom which means running into fewer problems with their investments. But there is a reason iOS likes a far more locked approach: the ability to customize is not for everyone, and if you do not know what you are doing it can lead to a lot of problems which can define your time with the OS rather than freedom.
With power (full admin permissions) comes greater responsibility. Here are some of the main risk factors when it comes to rooting:
- Malware becomes a larger threat. You might read the occasional news article about how new malware is wreaking havoc in parts of the world on Android. But the Android operating system with root access becomes considerably more vulnerable to exploits because applications are no longer prisoned off in their own sandbox environments. This means if you accidentally download malware, it can do more damage because it can spread throughout the operating system and even jump into other applications and potentially view sensitive data.
- You can accidentally brick the smartphone. There is always a chance that you end up bricking the smartphone before you had the opportunity to use it with root access. That is because if you are going to brick it, it is going to happen during the rooting process.
- You may void the warranty. Most manufacturers do not allow you to root the Android operating system and still get to bring it in for repairs under warranty. Whether they are legally meant to do that or not is another question, but it is now common knowledge that most do not want to help you if they find out you have unlocked the OS with root access.
Files You Need
- Download the CF-Auto-Root tool for the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 SM-N920S phone when it is running on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow updates from here.
- Download the Samsung USB Drivers for the computer running the Windows operating system from here.
You will need the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone that comes with the SM-N920S model number to use this guide. Any another model number likely gets bricked if you flash the CF-Auto-Root tool found in this tutorial.
You must be running a version of the Windows operating system to use the CF-Auto-Root package that is in this guide. The flashing tool is the Odin app and it only runs if you have it running on a computer with a Windows operating system. The Odin application in this guide does not run on a MacOS or Linux computer. There are other ways to flash the files using a Mac or Linux computer, but you need to follow another guide as nothing in them relates to what we are doing here.
There may be some software updates based on Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow that roll out over the air which brings new bootloaders with them. A new bootloader can present a problem for the CF-Auto-Root tool in the sense that Chainfire may need to update the files with the new recovery images for them to start working again. You can submit the new recovery images that are part of the new firmware package causing the problems to the official CF-Auto-Root tool thread made over at the XDA-Developers forum website so Chainfire can see the message you left. Once he gets your message, he then applies the necessary changes to the CF-Auto-Root tool. You can start using this guide again right away because we link directly to the official CF-Auto-Root repository page, so the updates he applies are real time.
Rooting the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 SM-N920S running on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow
- Unlock the Developer Options menu on the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone so you can use the set of options found inside.
- Turn on the USB Debugging Mode from within the Developer Options menu that you just unlocked so that you can open the device up to some developments.
- Extract the CF-Auto-Root package to the desktop of the computer and you will see the Odin flashing application and the rooting file that you need to flash soon.
- Run the Samsung USB Drivers on the Windows computer so that your Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone can be connected to the computer and detected by the Odin flashing application when it is running.
- Double-click on the Odin flashing app and wait for the flashing tool’s user interface to open.
- Boot the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone into the download mode and then connect it to the computer yo are using the USB cable.
- Check that you can see a yellow or blue ID: COM port coming from the Odin user interface and the added message also available. (The added message from Odin and the color coming from the ID: COM post is letting you know that your Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone is added correctly and the Samsung USB Drivers are working. Anyone who does not see the ID: COM port light up with a color needs to work out why that is because it does not function until the device is connected. You can try logging out and back in or even turning off the computer and starting it up again, but the drivers should start working as soon as you install them).
- Do not make any changes from the default settings people get with the Odin flashing application and its buttons. (You can always download a fresh copy of the Odin flashing application if you have already played with the buttons, and you are unable to remember what the default settings are for the app).
- Click the AP button from the Odin app and then browse the desktop location for the rooting file that you see ends in the tar.md5 file extension.
- Click the Start button from the Odin app and then your device gets a systemless root flashed.
- Check that you get a pass message inside a green box from the Odin user interface on the computer.
In conclusion, that is how to root the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone with the SM-N920S model number when it is running on the Android 6.0.1 Marshmallow software updates by using the systemless root version of the CF-Auto-Root tool. You can now unplug from the computer once you see the device reboot.
Most people enjoy installing the root checker application from the Google Play Store if you are somebody who doesn’t have it on the device at the moment. The root checker app will check the root status of your Android operating system so you can start installing the root requiring applications from the Google Play Store and know that any problems that arise will not be due to your root status.
Once you have confirmed that your Samsung Galaxy Note 5 smartphone is, in fact, rooted correctly, you can start installing any of the applications like the Titanium Backup app that need you to be a root user before the will run. Some other names you might also like to check out include the Dumpster app to bring old pictures back to life, the ROM Toolbox for your ROM needs, Xposed Framework if you want to skip the ROMs and just make some tweaks from the apps, and Tasker is ideal for adding some more useful features that are not included in the stock ROM. Moreover, you can just install a custom recovery now if you want one and then check out the custom ROMs that are available.Some of the custom ROMs are available to you already (the ones that come pre-rooted) while others need you to be rooted before they will run.
Those who would like some future reading on what to do with a rooted Android operating system can check out our post on that which goes into a lot more detail about things like overclocking the GPU, overclocking the CPU, removing the bloatware via apps like System App Remover and Titanium backup, increasing the RAM, increasing the battery life and much more.
Furthermore, if you have checked the root status of your phone and it is saying that you are not a root user yet, then you can try checking whether or not your device is getting into the recovery mode. Chainfire states that one of the main reasons for a device not getting rooted is the fact that recovery mode did not happen, and you can fix it by booting it into recovery mode as soon as it reboots after flashing the CF-Auto-Root tool.
Moreover, there are other versions of the Odin flashing application available for you to check out if you need to try another version. There are plenty of reports online from people not being able to figure out why the files do not flash in Odin, so they download another version of the Odin flashing application, and it works perfectly. Hopefully, the same thing can happen with your device. All other potential problems usually come down the drivers not running, but you know when they are not running because the ID: COM port does not light up a blue or yellow color.
Lastly, if you have a smartphone that shares a model number across several phone carrier networks, then you might find several firmware downloads available for the one model number from the Sam Mobile website. Provided that your smartphone is SIM unlocked, you can install firmware from another phone carrier network based on the same model number and then try rooting it again with the CF-AUto-Root tool that is made for the same model number. Sometimes running one of the more popular firmware versions can be more successful.