So, last night I read a new post on JesusFreke’s blog that he’s decided to stop new development on his custom ROM image for Android devices (such as the T-Mobile G1 phone that I have). In his post, he lists Cyanogen’s ROM as a good alternative.
I went to that url (a forum thread, really) and tried to remember how I “rooted” the phone and installed JesusFreke’s ROM back in May. Rooting is the term used for hacking the device to get root (or admin or superuser) access to the operating system (OS), letting one then flash or install custom OS builds rather than the one that T-Mobile or whoever provides.
Why would I want to do this? Well, back in May, I installed the ROM before T-Mobile pushed out their Cupcake build of the Android OS, so I was able to get access to the touch-screen keyboard, enhancements to the map and browser, etc. before the official push. And last night, as I read the feature list for Cyanogen’s ROM, two things jumped out at me immediately that made me want to upgrade: 1) the ability to install apps to an SD card rather than the phone’s internal memory, and 2) Cyanogen’s claim that a general principle of his builds is to make the OS faster and smoother.
The biggest complaint I have had about the G1 phone is that it was sluggish sometimes. But also in the last month or so, it’s been crashing once in a while, and I think it’s because I was running out of internal memory.
So, last night, I started clicking on the various links from that initial forum post and saw that Cyanogen also released a recovery image that can be used to boot into (rather than the standard phone OS) to flash ROMs, get access to various utilities, etc. It took forever trying to get this installed. For some reason whenever I booted into my old recovery mode (which was jesusfreke’s 1.42 build) and got into the terminal program, the recovery OS could not read the sdcard nor load up the flash_image executable.
I ended up wiping the phone completely and trying again, which worked though maybe I coulda gotten it working without wiping the phone. Anyway, after wiping it, since I was sort of starting over, I did a quick search in the forum on xda-developers and found this guide written by nephron that lists all the step-by-steps needed for someone starting from the beginning with an unrooted phone. I skipped the rooting bits (and it looks like Cyanogen’s ROM doesn’t need the SPL update, so that step was superfluous). And now I have a new OS that’s all spiffy and fast and is installing all my apps that I download on to my SD card!
BTW, there’s a very handy forum post that lists how-to guides and whatnot. Worth a bookmark if you’re considering diving into Android hacking. Here’s the general first guide to read to get started rooting your phone.