*There’s no app review today. Yesterday I decided to root my handset and write an account of how it played out. Hopefully this will help give an idea of how the process works. Normal service will resume in our next post*
I’ve been struggling for app space on my HTC Desire for a few weeks now and the idea of rooting my handset has become an increasingly attractive proposition; I have finally decided to make that leap of faith and dive into the murky world of software modding. To be honest I’m not entirely new to this, a few years ago when I owned an MDA Vario I managed to flash that with a custom rom that greatly improved its useability and performance. These are the reasons why I’m rooting and flashing my HTC Desire, plus the fact that I can’t help but fiddle with stuff I shouldn’t be fiddling with. I figured I’d take notes during the process so you can get idea of what’s involved.
Just to be absolutely clear this isn’t a guide on rooting / flashing and you should only undertake this task if you are absolutely sure about what you are doing. I take zero responsibility if you kill your phone as a result of reading this post (as I write this I havn’t actually rooted my phone yet and it’s possible that I may kill it before finishing this post). If you do decide to do this and you come across a problem I cannot help you, you’re on your own, much like I am right now.
Step 1 – Prep, Prep & More Prep : I decided to root my handset using this excellent guide over at XDA-Developers.com. I’ve read through the instructions a few times to familiarise myself with the process as well as downloaded any files ahead of time to a specific folder named ‘Android Root’ on my computer so that I’d have them handy should I need them. I find that for tasks like this you can’t do enough research so if you are thinking of doing this, read up on it first, then read up on it again.
Step 2 – Rooting : Here we go, the scary stuff. The two things I’ve done before starting is fully charge my phone and backup the sd card, with that done it’s time to get rooting. Start the clock….
00:00 – Running UnrEVOked, rooting process started.
00:01 – Stuff happening, I am chewing on my knuckles.
00:02 – A couple of handset reboots.
00:05 – ‘Done’ message appears, handset is rebooting again.
00:06 – Handset rebooted. Hey, that wasn’t so bad. My knuckles hurt though.
So now my handset is back to its main screen, everything looks the same and it all works as normal but now I have root access to the handset. Let’s get flashing.
Step 3 – Flashing a Rom : Ah right, here’s the scary stuff. I’ve installed Titanium Backup and performed the app backup procedure, I went out to get lunch while that worked its magic. As I type I’m now performing the Nandroid backup, this is saving the current state of my phone so I can always go back to square one if I need to. Now that’s done the next step is the really scary bit, totally wiping the phone, deep breath… and done.
Hmmm that was quick, it took all of a nanosecond to wipe my complete Android history, somehow that’s slightly depressing.
Now with my blank phone it’s all set for a new Rom, there are countless Rom flavours to choose from. There are Roms based on the vanilla Android OS, some with modded extras with the HTC Sense UI thrown in, the CyanogenMod Roms are very popular. I have decided to go for ‘RoDrIgUeZsTyLe™ (0.11.12) MIUIMOD [V1.8.1] BLAZING FAST & STABLE’. MIUI is a chinese variant of the Android OS, it has just the slightest whiff of iOS about it and it’s proving quite popular with those who choose to root / flash their handsets. It’s been translated and tweaked into all kinds of variants and with this one claiming to be both ‘Blazing Fast‘ and ‘Stable‘ it’s hard to say no. Here’s a video of it in action (although this clip looks strangely sped up), you might want to turn your speakers down first though.
So here we go… installing… installing… installing… and done. That wasn’t too painful.
The first reboot is taking a short while, this is due to the app cache being rebuilt. Things are already looking good, there’s a swish bootup animation which has already got my excitement perked. Now it’s booted up and woah, it’s different.
Oooh, shiny, new, different. Plus it's FAST.
More home screen real estate than you'll know what to do with.
Can't.. stop.. looking.. at.. my.. lock screen. It's lush.
Well, it’s quick and it looks great. It’s weird not having an app tray and having everything live on the home screens but with an endless amount of homescreens to fill it shouldn’t be a problem keeping things tidy.
I can use Titanium backup to recover my apps from their previous state, Handcent SMS has come back with its settings intact but is sadly lacking my previous conversations. Tweetdeck however has come back exactly how I left it so if you undertake this be prepared to start afresh with certain apps. Speaking of which, fingers crossed that I havn’t lost my Angry Birds progress! I want to get the Apps2SD aspect setup but that’s a whole new set of things to research so I’m going to stop the blog here.
In summary, my initial reaction is that I’m happy I took the plunge with this, there’s now a bit of work to do with getting things back to how they were (settings, apps, contacts etc) but it will be worth it (although I’ve had two crash/resets so far in 24 hours, hopefully this is just a case of settling in). All in all it’s worth a try if you’ve done the homework and are felling brave, all at your own risk obviously.
Finally I just want to add a huge thanks to all those who have laid the groundwork to help me do this. From writing the guides on XDA-Developers.com, making the tools that get under the bonnet of Android and those who create the Roms that improve our handsets. Thanks guys.