Adventures in Rooting. A guide for the terrified.

At this point, I warn you now.  If you are looking for a full technical, blow by blow account of how to perfectly root and install a new ROM, you might want to check out other forums.  This is one man’s adventure into rooting without knowing what he was doing, including, but not limited to girlfriends, alcohol and Lara Croft.

I love my HTC Desire.  To bits.  I care for it, clean it, keep it snug in a case and keep it warm and dry.  However, like with some relationships, I had a niggling problem at the back of my mind that wouldn’t go away.

It’s the software.  HTC sense is a great ROM.  It works, is slick and looks pretty.  But it sucks the memory that is available to me, leaving not much room for new apps.  I also found myself wanting to use software people had designed for cool tricks and handset management.  This only really left me one option…  Rooting.

Now, I’m a heavy phone user.  Music, podcasts, books, internet, group texting, emails, browsing, but I’m not techy enough to reprogram my handset with confidence.  To quote Blackadder, “I am one of those people who are quite happy to wear cotton, but have no idea how it works”.  So I headed over to .   An excellent site, look for the forum of your handset and look for the information with regards to rooting your specific handset.  I’m not going to go into the process in detail, you can find much better guides on the net for the intricate ins and outs of what to do.

So its New Years Day Evening.  Miss T had decided on a bath, I had consumed some alcohol, my handset was only half charged, and so this was the perfect opportunity to root and find a new ROM… I’m a typical man.  I need to be half drunk to do something daring with a gadget.

So this is what I did.  Download UnRevoked, linked from XDA-Developers.  Followed the instructions.  Wondered why it was not doing what it should have been doing.  Had another stiff drink.  Started panicking and wondering how long this would take.  Checked the forums again, realised that I needed to install HTC Sync and uninstall it, as Unrevoked needs some of the files that it leaves behind.  Grinned with happiness and resumed watching Tomb Raider.  Felt proud of myself when Unrevoked told me that I had now rooted my handset.

So what to do now.  Its getting late, Miss T is giving me the evils for giving my phone more attention than her.  Again.  So Naturally, I decide to download a ROM.  I decide on Cyanogen as its available in ROM manager and seems popular.  Another stiff drink.  Wait nervously while ROM downloads to the handset.  I make a backup of my ROM with ROM Manager and watch in wonder as strange text takes over my screen and I start thinking about what I’m going to do when I brick my phone.  Had a celebratory shot of bourbon when it reboots normally.  At this point I decide my half full battery should really be charged…

Tomb Raider has almost finished, and I follow the instructions to install Cyanogen 6.1.1 with google apps.  The Desire reboots etc, and then the swishy Cyanogen logo comes on.  And stays on.  I start watching another film, and I start getting anxious after 30 mins and its still on the Cyanogen screen.  At this point I notice that the charging light isn’t coming on, and I panic again about  bricking.  So I then read up on how to reboot the phone into recovery (disconnect battery, reconnect, press volume and power button together).  I then restore the ROM backup I made…  turns out I didn’t have enough memory available for the install with the Google apps attachment.

At this point I left it alone, as I was in danger of being too drunk to see the phone and in danger of being relegated to the sofa for the night.  over the next two days I keep fiddling, and rebooting, trying various ROMs to see what works.  No doubt annoying Miss T immensely.  Personally I had issues with getting Market on Cyanogen, although I believe there is a workaround (far too technical for me…) tried ShadowSense which just hung on install, OpenDesire which I liked, although it was a version of CyanogenMod and I didnt feel it was much different from Sense.  I then settled on Oxygen 2.3.1 RC5 from AdamG.  I love it!

Zeam launcher is great, Gingerbread feels fantastic, its a light ROM, I can move pretty much all my apps to SD whether they were designed to or not.

So what can someone new to rooting learn from my little adventure?

Charge your phone before you start.  Read as much as you can from forums and websites.  Install the software on your PC ready to go. Learn how to take the back off your phone without breaking it (your gonna be doing a lot of it).  Remember that rooting your phone invalidates your warranty.  Remember that these ROMS are often experimental, and may not work properly or in their entirety. Apps moved to SD may not work properly and you will have to move them back onto the phone.  Remember, and this is most important, I cant stress this enough, BACK UP YOUR ROM REGULARLY!

What have I found to be the benefits?  A light, fast ROM, great styling, ability to back up my ROM for when it all goes wrong (and it did for me pre root –  I had to start with a fresh install and one of the reason I wanted to root), SetCPU to help increase the battery life, and I have lots of memory free for new apps and to allow my Desire to be nice and whizzy.  Also, it might be months, if at all before HTC and my network decide on a bloatware laden 2.3 build, but I’ve got one now, and I dont want to give it back!

So if you are nervous, read up as much as you can.  Perhaps find a friend with experience to help.  Stay off the alcohol and make sure the girl (or boy) friend are out of the way if they don’t like the attention you give your little brick of love.  Nerves are part of the process.  And enjoy the results!