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Install Custom Kernel

Nexus 6: How to Install a Custom Kernel

It’s much quicker and easier to install a custom kernel than it is to install a custom ROM. So today’s tutorial will show you how to install a custom kernel onto the Nexus 6.

Whether you use a custom ROM or not, a custom kernel can drastically improve the battery life/performance of your Nexus 6. These custom kernels can be used on both stock firmware as well as AOSP based custom ROMs. I like to use the car/driver analogy. Think of your car as the ROM/firmware and think of the driver as the kernel. Depending on how the driver prefers to drive, they could get more gas mileage(aka more battery life) or they could get from point A to point B faster(aka faster performance). It all has to do with the techniques used and this is exactly how kernels operate.

Requirements

Just like I mentioned yesterday with the custom ROM installation tutorial, there are some things that you need to have already done before you can install a custom kernel. You will need to have the bootloader of the Nexus 6 unlocked and you will need to go ahead and install a custom recovery too. Technically, you can install a kernel without a custom recovery but being able to flash a zip file is much easier to a lot of people than to input commands into the terminal/command prompt. Lastly, you’ll want to have root access to the Nexus 6 so that you can use a kernel tweaking application to customize the kernel configuration. Again, you don’t really need a kernel tweaking application(or root access) but they are if you ever want to configure the settings without having to execute adb/fastboot commands.

Nexus 6 Install Custom Kernel

  1. Download the Custom Kernel to the Nexus 6
  2. Boot the Nexus 6 into Recovery Mode
  3. Tap on the ‘Install’ Option
  4. Browse to and Tap on the Custom Kernel You Downloaded
  5. When Ready, Swipe the Blue Arrow at the Bottom to the Right
  6. Wait Until the Installation is Complete
  7. Then Tap on the ‘Wipe Cache/Dalvik’ Option
  8. Swipe the Blue Arrow at the Bottom to the Right
  9. Tap on the ‘Back’ Option
  10. Then Tap on the ‘Reboot System’ Option

Explanation

You’ll want to find a custom kernel that is made for the specific model of your Nexus 6. Once you have this downloaded to your device, you can boot up into the recovery mode. Fair warning, before doing any type of modification of this level to your Nexus 6, be sure to create a backup first. Just in case something like this makes your device go into a bootloop, you’ll want to be able to restore to the most recent backup you have created. Having to restore to a backup from weeks/months ago is hardly ever a good thing.

So, while you are in the recovery mode, I would go ahead and create a backup if you haven’t created one in a while. Once you are ready to proceed, head back to the TWRP main menu and then tap on the ‘Install’ button. From here, you should see a file browser that lets you go through the various folders/files of your Nexus 6. Look for the Downloads folder and tap it since that is where things downloaded from a web browser go. In this folder you should see the custom kernel that you downloaded and go ahead and tap on it after you locate it.

Tapping on something will add it to the queue and since we aren’t installing anything else, you can swipe the blue arrow that you see at the bottom all the way to the right. This will start the installation process for the Nexus 6 custom kernel and you’ll most likely see some text scrolling up the screen. When the installation is finished, some buttons will appear at the bottom. You’ll want to tap on the ‘wipe cache/dalvik’ option and then swipe the blue arrow to the right again. This process usually isn’t required but I have gotten into the habit of doing it and it won’t lose any of your data to do. As they say, old habits die hard.

Once the cache has been wipe, then you can tap on the ‘back’ button so that you can see the ‘reboot system’ button. Tapping on this reboot button will reboot your Nexus 6 and you will be taken directly back into the standard Android OS. When you boot back up into Android, your brand new custom kernel will be installed and you can check on this by launching the settings and then tapping on the ‘About Phone’ option. Look for the ‘Kernel Version’ section here and it should list the new custom kernel that you have installed.

If you just want to ‘set it and forget it’, then you don’t have to do anything else. However, if you want to customize some of the settings then you’ll need a kernel tweaking application. I used to use Faux Clock back when I was using the Faux kernel a lot on my Nexus 5. It costs money though so you might want to use something else. Lately, I have been using an application called Kernel Adiutor as it has a lot of options and it looks nice with its Material Design style. Any kernel tweaking application should work though so you’re welcome to use the one you enjoy the most.

If you have any questions or run into any issues during this installation, feel free to leave a comment/question at the bottom of this tutorial. I might not immediately be able to answer your question and if I can’t, I will do my best to research for ways to resolve it.

[box type=”info”]If this worked or didn’t work for you, please leave a comment at the bottom of this article to let me know. This will help me to keep these tutorials up to date(if it didn’t work) and it can also help to inspire confidence in other readers(if it did work).[/box]

3 thoughts on “Nexus 6: How to Install a Custom Kernel”

    1. I’m not sure, I don’t think the kernel has anything to do with RAM management, but I could be wrong (I’m not a kernel developer). To my recollection, it’s the Android firmware that manages the RAM.

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