Tag Archives: Format N900

How To Hard Reset The N900 To The Factory State

As I have mentioned before, unlike Nokia’s Symbian devices, the N900 does not have a code that you can enter to format the device and restore it to the factory state. However, if you like playing with software in the extras-devel repositories, chances are that sooner or later you will like a fresh start and want the N900 to be restored to the state in which you first picked it up.

How To Hard Reset The N900 To The Factory State

There is no seemingly easy way to do this and I really hope Nokia is doing something about it. That being said, how do you go about accomplishing the task? The answer is to flash both the N900’s OS and the 32 GB mass memory. This can be done on a Mac, a Linux or a Windows machine. Since windows is the most popular OS, I will show you how to do this via Windows.

Before we start, please note that this would be done using the command line interface, it may seem tricky but let me assure you that it is simply enough for anyone to accomplish.

  • Download and install the latest version of Maemo Flasher (e.g. maemo_flasher-3.5_2.5.2.2.exe). Since this is a command line application you will see no shortcut on the desktop or in the Program Files option under the Start menu.
  • Next, Download the latest firmware (.bin) file, it will look like “RX-51_xxxxx_ARM.bin”. You will need your IMEI  number to access the downloads, it can be found on the box or by going to Settings > General > About Product.
  • Also download the Vanilla eMMC image (.bin file) from the same page. It will look like “RX-51_2009SE_1.2009.41-1.VANILLA_PR_EMMC_MR0_ARM.bin”
  • Save both  to C:\ProgramFiles\maemo\flasher-3.5\. My suggestion is to rename them to something simple such as RX-51.bin for the firmware and R.bin for the eMMC, this will make typing the commands easier later on.
  • Make sure that the battery is fully charged and switch off the device.
  • Open the Command Prompt by going to Start then Run and type cmd, then press Enter.
  • Change directory to the flasher’s program path by entering:
cd "C:\ProgramFiles\maemo\flasher-3.5"
  • Connect the USB cable while holding the ‘u’ key on the N900. Within an instant you will see a USB icon on the top right corner of the N900. Now leave the ‘u’ key.
  • Run the following command:
flasher-3.5.exe -F RX-51.bin -f -R
  • I typed RX-51.bin because I had renamed the file earlier, otherwise it would have been: (this was the name of the latest firmware, the name may vary after a new firmware comes out)
flasher-3.5.exe -F RX-51_2009SE_2.2009.51-1_PR_COMBINED_MR0_ARM.bin -f -R"
  • You will see text similar to the one below on your PC.

How To Hard Reset The N900How To Hard Reset The N900

  • The update will take about 3 minutes after which the N900 will reboot and display the Welcome screen with Regional settings.

The next step is to flash the Mass Storage or the eMMC. The first few steps are identical to the way you would flash the firmware. If you are following on from the above and already have the command prompt open, you can directly proceed to step number 3.

  • Open the Command Prompt by going to Start then Run and type cmd, then press Enter.
  • Change directory to the flasher’s program path by entering:
cd "C:\ProgramFiles\maemo\flasher-3.5"
  • Connect the USB cable while holding the ‘u’ key on the N900. Within an instant you will see a USB icon on the top right corner of the N900. Now leave the ‘u’ key.
  • Execute the following command:

flasher-3.5.exe -F R.bin -f -R"
  • I typed R.bin because I had renamed the file earlier, otherwise it would have been

flasher-3.5.exe -F RX-51_2009SE_1.2009.41-1.VANILLA_PR_EMMC_MR0_ARM.bin -f -R
  • You will see text similar to the one below on your PC.
How To Hard Reset The N900
  • The flash will take around 1 minute after which the device will reboot.
  • The bright Nokia screen will come up on the screen with the USB icon on the top right followed by progression dots with yellow LED blinking for a few seconds. The device will then turn off and go into charging mode with the yellow LED blinking (NOTE: If the device appears to reboot, unplug the cable.)
  • Unplug cable and wait for device to turn off completely. You may hear a sound (punk) of the device turning off.

That’s it. You have now hard reset the N900 to the factory state. This procedure can be used to update the firmware on your device as well, if you wish you can leave formatting the eMMC if your intention is only to update the firmware. Please make sure that the battery on your N900 is completely charged, otherwise you might brick it.

This guide has been adapted from this immensely useful wiki on maemo.org.

Disclaimer: Please do this at your own risk.

Rant: Why Did Nokia Take Away The Clear Device Mode On The N900?

One of the things that I fear is that very soon I will reach a stage where I will need to hard-reset the N900, for me this is because despite the warnings I like to look at applications in the extras-testing and devel repositories. Sooner or later I will end up installing a rogue application that will hamper N900 performance and a desire to start from a clean slate will be born.

Now had this been a Symbian device, it would have been a simple matter of hitting *#7370# and I would be back where I started with a clean state in a matter of two minutes. Unfortunately on the N900 and Maemo 5 its now as simply. You will need to flash the device with a computer and for most N900 owners it will not be a walk in the park.

On the N900’s production FW (1.2009.42-11) all you get is this option:

Rant: Why Did Nokia Take Away The Clear Device Mode On The N900?

However @MohammadAG kindly sent me this image from the Maemo 5 SDK that also carried the option to clear the device.

Clear Device N900

Now my question is why remove it Nokia? Was it for a technical reason or was it removed on a whim? Can we please have it back? Please make hard resetting the N900 as easy as it is on Symbian.