Atrix Fails to Boot - My Late Night Adventure

Posted by Kyle on June 4, 2012

Motorola Atrix 4GThe other night, I wanted to work on tweaking my Motorola Atrix 4G, and thought I would like to start with a blank slate, so I proceeded to try to re-lock and un-root it.

A factory data reset didn't do it (and it actually broke WiFi on my Atrix), so I thought I'd hit the ol' Google machine and see what I could find. Things didn't go so well, and I ended up with the error: "failed to boot 3."

So the first lesson learned is: DO NOT USE MFBSR!

I found a script on the xda-developers forum that promised to roll my Atrix (updated to 4.5.141) back to the previous version (4.5.91) and re-lock and unroot my phone. I was all about that, and a little frustrated that the Factory Data Reset had broken the WiFi on my phone, so I readily downloaded and ran the script.

I don't know if I just did it wrong, and I certainly don't fault the developer, but I ended up soft bricking my phone with the awesome "failed to boot 3" error that just gives me the warm fuzzies.

What ensued was a trip around the interwebs in the hopes of restoring my phone to its former rooted, openvpn'd, tethering glory. I found several articles and melded them all together into a single solution, which I thought I might publish for posterity.

First things first: requirements

  1. While I normally rock the linux, this solution requires a Windows computer.
  2. You're should install the Motorola drivers for your phone.
  3. You'll also need RSD Lite to flash the phone. I have it hosted on my server, or you can download the latest version from the xda-developers forum.
  4. Finally, you're going to need an image - or SBF (Single Binary File) - for your phone. This is the image that worked with my Motorola Atrix 4G 4.5.141. THIS ONE MIGHT NOT WORK FOR YOU. DO YOUR RESEARCH AND FIND THE RIGHT SBF.

Before you do anything else, start extracting the SBF file from the .gz file you downloaded. It's rather large and might take a while. The best program to use for this is 7-Zip.

Next, plug your phone into the computer with your USB cable.

If you were in the same boat as I was, below the "failed to boot" error, your phone should say, "starting RSD." If it doesn't, turn the phone off - either soft via the power button or hard via removing the battery - and when you turn in back on, hold down the "Volume Up" button. Your screen should read "Starting RSD protocol support" along with the Motorola logo in the middle.

At this point, after any remaining drivers have finished installing on your PC, open RSD Lite, select your phone from the list at the bottom, and hit ". . ." to browse to the SBF file once it's done extracting.

RSD Lite 5.3.1 Screenshot

Hit 'Start' and wait for the magic to happen! In my case, it took 5-10 minutes, then rebooted one last time into its original un-rooted, un-locked state.

I was able then to use the pretty standard fastboot technique to root it again and set my Atrix up as a fresh install just how I wanted it.

Got questions? Leave them below or contact my via the form on the about page.


I didn't come up with this all on my own., and deserve most of the credit.


Posted by KD on
Was your phone on AT&T? I think that image file will work for me but I wanted to make sure.
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