Installing a custom Android ROM

Android is a phone operating system found on most smartphones now. It is developed by Google, and mostly used by manufacturers like Samsung, Motorola, HTC in their phones. Android is evolving at a very fast rate, and almost every year there is a new version available. However, most manufacturers do not support updating the phone OS. What happens is that you are left with older versions of the OS on the phone, while the world is moving ahead.

e.g. I have a Samsung Galaxy Ace with OS version 2.3 ( Ginger Bread) while the latest version available is 4.0 ( Ice Cream Sandwich ) while 4.1 (Jelly Beans ) has just been announced.Samsung is not supporting anything more than 2.3 citing hardware limitations.

The option is to get a custom ROM for your phone. These are not supported by the manufacturers and according to them, if you use the ROMs - you void your warranty. However, I find that not using these ROMs will significantly lower the usability of the phones.

Custom ROMs are specific to your phone. So first you need to find out whether your phone is supported. The two most popular sites are :
1. Cyanogenmod ( phone list )
2. Miui ( phone list)

If your phone is on the above list, you are quite in luck and the process will be straight forward. However, if your is not, then you will have to search a bit. The best place I have found for searching is Youtube ! You will find a video of how to install the custom ROM as well as links to downloading the custom rom. e.g. I have a Samsung Galaxy Ace, which is not on the main sites, but a derivative was found on http://www.themythace.com/index.html website.


The Install Process


Installation of the ROMs is quite easy and step by step process, though you will keep holding your breath to see if it works or not.

There are 2 pieces of software that you need to download.
1. ClockWork Recovery Mode ( CWM) for your device.
2. The ROM for your device.

Download both of these using the computer and put them on your device's SD card.

Below are generic steps to follow - you should check the instructions for installing from the respective sites for your specific device in case it differs.

Make sure your phone is fully charged!

Step 1: Take a backup of your data. Mostly you would want to backup sms, photos, contact numbers, etc. If the data is on the SD card ( e.g. photos are on SD card) you do not need to worry. But anything on the phone memory will need to be backedup if you want to use it later.
Step 2: Copy the CWM and ROM zip files to your SD card using the computer.
Step 3: Now you need to first install CWM. This is done by going into the recoverymode ( usually home + power buttons), chosing to update from SD Card, and using the CWM zip file . See youtube videos on how this is done.
Step 4: Reboot again into recovery mode. Now the recovery mode is using CWM and you will see more options.
Step 5: Reset the data and the cache. This will wipe your phone totally, and hence the requirement of Step1 to take backup of your data.
Step 6: Once this is done, it is advisable to just reboot again into recoverymode.
Step 7: Now in the menu, go to install zip from SD card and select the custom ROM zip you have. This will start the process and you may have to wait from anything between 2 mins to 10 mins to startup. Usually first boot takes time.

There you go, your new OS is ready to rock and roll !
MIUI running ICS on Galaxy ACE


Leave any questions/comments below.

9 comments:

  1. what is a recovery mode?

    Vishal

    ReplyDelete
  2. some more questions
    - what app to use for backup of contacts, sms, call log, applications and preferably free on the market?
    - how to restore the contacts, sms, call log, applications once on the custom rom?
    - did u do a stock rom backup? and which method did u choose to do stock rom backup? how do u restore from stockrom backup?
    - did u use Nandroid?
    - what is S-off or S-on?
    - what is H-boot

    Vishal

    ReplyDelete
  3. Q1. what app to use for backup of contacts, sms, call log, applications and preferably free on the market?
    A: Either backup with the utilities provided by the phone manufacturer, or there are lots of backup apps. I personally did not use anything.
    - Contacts are backedup on gmail account. So, I dont worry about it.
    - SMS I usually dont need any backup.
    - Call Logs - again, I dont see the need for backups.
    - Applications - this can again be synced with your google account. Go to settings -> applications and find the 'backup application data'. Does a decent enough job of backing up.



    Q2: how to restore the contacts, sms, call log, applications once on the custom rom?

    Contacts / Applications - though google account sync. No issues there.
    SMS / Call logs - I did not.


    Q3: did u do a stock rom backup? and which method did u choose to do stock rom backup? how do u restore from stockrom backup?

    I used CWM to backup the current system. Also you can get stock rom images online.

    Q4: did u use Nandroid?

    No. You can.

    Q5: what is S-off or S-on?

    No idea.

    Q6: what is H-boot

    I suppose it means hard boot. Cant be sure if I dont know the context.

    ReplyDelete
  4. the terms S-off and S-on, H-boot are HTC desire specific.
    HTC ships its phone with extra security S-on. Generally ppl switch S-off while rooting.
    H-boot is the default boot on HTC desire.

    Vishal

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cool. So did you update to ICS ?

    ReplyDelete
  6. i have not yet rooted my phone and not flashed a custom rom. After two weekends of research and reading, have a good understanding of what i shud do for getting a new rom on my HTC desire. Lets see when i am able to flash the custom rom. Actually i have not yet zeroed on a custom rom. I think i wud start with a custom rom based on Gingerbread.
    Vishal

    ReplyDelete
  7. hi..Im college student, thanks for sharing :)

    ReplyDelete