Home > ROMs > Custom ROMs

How to use DSU Loader on Android to Flash GSI ROM

In this guide, we will show you the steps to use the DSU Loader feature to install GSI ROM on your Android device. Not every device is created equally! If we talk about Samsung devices, then the likes of the S series enjoy impressive support from the developer community, the same sentiments cannot be echoed for its M, F, and A series. Even in the S series, you might notice the normal and Plus variants aren’t given due attention when compared with their Ultra counterparts.

As far as the reason for the same is concerned, it could be attributed to numerous factors- how popular the device is, the underlying chipset that it beholds [Exynos, MediaTek, or Snapdragon], and in some cases, just the will of the developers. As a result of this, there are many devices left out there feeling neglected and dejected due to a lack of support from the tech community, especially when it comes to custom ROMs.

Well, this is where the role of a Generic System Image comes into the frame. Being generic in nature, it could be flashed across all the Project Treble devices [which encompasses near about all the devices launched with Android 8+ out of the box]. The flashing process is quite easy as well, just disable AVB by flashing vbmeta in Fastboot and then delete the product partition and flash GSI to the system partition via FastbootD Mode.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Samsung, this rule will not work as you wouldn’t be able to access the FastbootD Mode and the flashing doesn’t take place in the Fastboot Mode either [it uses the Download Mode]. With that said, we finally managed to find a nifty method using which you can now flash a Generic System Image on your device. But that’s not the only method out there!

There exists another built-in setting named DSU Loader that allows you to flash GSI ROM on your Android device. And in this guide, our focus will be on that functionality. So without further ado, let’s check it out.

What is a DSU Loader?

DSU Loader Samsung Flash GSI ROM

DSU Loader is a built-in feature in Android devices that allows you to test a Dynamic System Update Image. However, you cannot manually provide it with a custom GSI, it comes preloaded with the latest AOSP GSI from Google with two variants: GMS and non-GMS and you can only download either of these two builds. The GMS or the Google Mobile Service comes preinstalled with numerous Google apps, services, and frameworks whereas the non-GMS is a vanilla build, bereft of the aforementioned Google packages.

As far as accessibility of this feature goes, near-about every OEM has placed it inside the Developer Options, except for Samsung which has completely hidden this feature from the OS. But fret not. In this guide, we will show you the steps to unearth and then use the DSU Loader feature on your Samsung/non-Samsung device to flash the corresponding GSI ROM. So without further ado, let’s get started.

How to Use DSU Loader on Samsung Devices

Before starting, please take a backup of all the data on your device, just to be on the safer side. Droidwin and its members wouldn’t be held responsible in case of a thermonuclear war, your alarm doesn’t wake you up, or if anything happens to your device and data by performing the below steps.

Even though we are flashing the officially signed firmware, you’ll still have to unlock the bootloader on your device. This is required for two reasons: for enabling the hidden DSU Loader app, we have to interact with a system activity, which would require administrative privileges/root beforehand, so root your device using this guide.

Moreover, having an unlocked bootloader will give you a sense of security that if something goes wrong, you can easily flash the firmware via Odin and bring your device back to life. But before you proceed ahead, make sure to go through the risks and drawbacks of having an unlocked bootloader on your Samsung device as well [given in the linked guide above]. If that’s all well and good, then let’s get started.

NOTE: This guide should not be confused with DSU Sideloader. That is a standalone third-party app that allows you to flash GSI ROMs on your device without the help of the PC. Whereas, here we will be discussing the DSU Loader feature that is pre-built into the OS.

  1. Unlock the bootloader and root your Samsung device
  2. Then download and install the Activity Launcher app.
  3. Now launch it, hit the Search icon, and type in DSU.
  4. Then select (DSULoader) from the list of activities.DSU Loader Samsung Flash GSI ROM
  5. After that, select the Launch Activity as Root option.
  6. You will now get a SuperUser request, tap on Grant.
  7. Now, select either the GSI or the GSI+GSM package.DSU Loader Samsung Flash GSI ROM
  8. The GSI ROM will now be downloaded to your device.
  9. Once done, tap on Restart from the notification panel.
  10. Your device will now restart to the newly flashed GSI.DSU Loader Samsung Flash GSI ROM

That’s it. These were the steps to use the DSU Loader feature to install GSI ROM on your Android device. If you have any queries concerning the aforementioned steps, do let us know in the comments. We will get back to you with a solution at the earliest.

DSU Loader on Other Android Devices

On all the other Android phones, the DSU Sideloader could easily be accessed directly from the Developer Options. You only need to enable the Developer Options and the DSU option will be right in front of you. The generic steps to enable Developer Options are as follows:

  1. Go to Settings > About Phone > Tap Build Number/OS version 7 times.
  2. Then go to Settings > System/Additional Settings > Developer Options.
  3. Now select DSU Loader followed by GSI or GSI+GSM build > hit Agree.

    dsu loader xiaomi
    DSU Loader Xiaomi
  4. The GSI will be downloaded. Once done, hit Restart via the notification.
  5. Your device will now reboot to the AOSP GSI and you could test it out.

Are Data Shared between DSU Loader and Stock Firmware

No, the data partition of the stock firmware and DSU Loader are separate. Hence data from the stock firmware will be non-accessible [or rather non-visible] in the GSI ROM and vice versa.

Is Unlocked Bootloader/Root Compulsory when using DSU Loader?

If you are using a non-Samsung device, then the root is not required to use the DSU Loader, however, it is highly recommended that you unlock the bootloader. The reason for that is if something goes wrong during the installation, then you may easily flash the firmware and bring the device back to life.

On the other hand, if you own a Samsung device, then you’ll have to unlock the bootloader as well as root it as well. Rooting is required to access the hidden activity that will enable the DSU Loader option whereas an unlocked bootloader is necessary to root your device.

Can I Flash Custom GSI using the DSU Loader?

No, you cannot flash a custom GSI using this method, you’ll have to stick with whatever the OS provides, which will always be the stock AOSP GSIs from Google. The reason for the same is this feature is only intended for the developers to test out and debug numerous OS parameters without affecting the original OS.

Google has no intention whatsoever to provide support with third-party GSIs. But if you are looking to install one, then you could take the help of the DSU Sideloader app which does this job brilliantly [it even allows dual booting two custom GSIs together]!