Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rooting: Transforming my HTC Hero into a SuperHero

When I first got my HTC Hero in May from the Sprint store, I was ecstatic. I finally got to move cut myself away from Big Red's (Verizon Wireless) expensive contract clutches and switch to the wonderfully yellow world of Sprint. I was previously stuck with the Samsung SCH-i760 widows mobile phone when I was with Verizon and just couldn't take it anymore. Needless to say, that is the day I become and Android fan. However there were some things that I knew weren't quite right with my Hero. Most notably:
HTC Hero redesigned for Sprint and Cellular South (Image via Wikipedia)
  1. Poor battery life
  2. It took entirely too long to dial and answer a call (between 10 - 30 seconds just to get my phone to place a call after having the phone run for a few hours)
  3. The inability to upgrade to the latest Android software version 2.2, Froyo
I just knew there had to be a better, more efficient way for my phone to run. Welcome to the world of rooting! Rooting, known in the iPhone world as jail breaking, provides you with the ability to"gain SU [super user] access to your phone. It allows you to flash custom ROMs, install custom themes, lock screens and more. It basically gives you complete and full control over your phone (Android Forums)." If you want the ability to:
  • make your phone operate substantially faster
  • install apps that you wouldn't normally be able to do, such as an app to capture what's on your phone
  • tether so that your phone can operate as a wirelesss hotspot (granted that your provider doesn't say anything)
then you should seriously consider rooting your phone and installing a custom ROM. I did this to my phone for the first time last week and did it without any trouble. The only problem is that information on how to do the entire process is scattered, so I will place simple directions here on how I rooted my phone and installed a custom ROM made by CyanogenMod.
Determine Your Software Build Number: On Your phone go to Settings > About Phone > Software Information. Under build version:
  • If your phone reads 1.29.651.1 (Android 1.5), (Android 1.5) or 2.27.651.5 (Android 2.2), then please proceed to the Root Your Phone section.
  • If you phone reads 2.27.651.6 then you need to revert to the ".5" version. Download this file and , if you haven't already, download the newest version of HTC Sync. Next, double lick on the ".5" version you just downloaded and HTC Sync should take you to the steps to install it. This process is exactly the same as you had to do when you upgraded your phone from 1.5 to 2.1. After that your phone should have the ".5" version. Double check that his has happened by looking Software Version as instructed in the beginning. 
  •  ***************************************UPDATE 12-15-10************************************** 
    • I've been getting a lot of feedback regarding what to do if your phone updates to Sprint's latest version, 2.32.651.2.  It is possible to do root from this version, however, I have read that sometimes the root goes away when restarting your phone.  A great amount of detail be found in this XDA forum.
    • My recommendation is to downgrade back to the 2.27.651.5 version simple because a) I know it works lol and b) it seems to be the method that most people use.  I really haven't heard anyone having problems rooting from this version.  Plus, it's easier for me to help with problems using this method since I'm more familiar with it :-) 

Root Your Phone:
  • Root your phone by following the directions in the link at XDA-Developers by regaw_leinad, starting at the place that reads "How to Root Sprint's Release for the CDMA Hero" in bold letters. It also instructs you on how to make a backup of your current system with HTC Sence. Screen shots are included in the post in order to make it easier to follow, but I also included a video below just in case you need a little extra help. Copy and paste everything into the command prompt so that you don't waste your time typing things.
  • I highly recommended copying this backup to your computer as well. It's also very useful in case you need to take you phone into the Sprint store because you can just flash the recovery and it'll look like you never did anything to your phone ;-) (since doing all of this does indeed void your warranty).

    (Rooting Your Phone, XDA-Developers)
Flash A ROM
Flashing a ROM is just putting a customized version of the most current version of Android available for your phone. I use ROMS provided by CyanogenMod. The current version is based off of Android 2.2, Froyo, and I have to say that it is blazing fast. I will even be so bold to say that my SuperHero is now as fast as an HTC Evo. Yeah I said it! I bet you want to root and flash a custom ROM now huh? :-)
  1. Download the stable ROM from here, provided by CyanogenMod. "Flash" the ROM by:
  • Hooking up your phone to your computer via USB and drag the ROM onto your SD Card (not in a folder).
  • Drag the Google Apps file to your phone as well or else you won't be able to login to your Google Account. Turn your phone off.
  • Hold the "down" volume button and the power button at the same time until your phone turns back on.
  • Choose "wipe" Make the selection by pressing the trackball down.
  • Choose "wipe dalvik cache"
  • Choose "wipe data/factor reset"
  • Press the back button until you get back to the main recovery screen
  • Choose "flash zip from SD card"
  • Pick the ROM you put onto your SD card and press down on the trackball.
  • After it's finished, do the same thing except choose the Google Apps.
  • Press the back button until you get back to the main recovery screen
  • Choose "reboot system now"
Below is a video showing what flashing looks like. Skip to the 3:00 minute mark.

How to Flash the ROM (via MrDroidHero)

**************************************UPDATE: 12-31-10**********************************************

Seems like adb shell is now located in "\platform-tools" rather than "\tools" after sdk updates.  Shout out to JimmyJamx22 for the tip. 

Extra Information
  1. The nice thing about 2.2 is that most of your apps are saved on your account, so if you have to flash your device again then most of your apps will also be installed automatically. However, the data associated with those apps will not be stored. To remedy this I recommend downloading Titanium Backup, which will backup your data as well as all of your apps so that you can restore the ones Google doesn't automatically restore. Don't worry about that though until after you've flashed a ROM.
  2. Nightly builds based on stable ROM can be found here. They are experimental though so everything may not work properly, but most of the time they are safe to flash. Check out the forum to see what different results people have with the most current nightly version.
Sprint Apps
I couldn't get my voicemail set up correctly at first since somehow it became deactivated, but I found a solution posted by Chinkster at XDA developers:

  • go into your voicemail app
  • menu
  • compose
  • type in ""
  • press record
  • leave for 5 seconds
  • press stop
  • press send
I have confirmed that this solution does indeed work. To test it, just repeat the process except compose a voicemail to your own phone number. You should receive it within 30 seconds of sending it. You'll also receive a text message from a 9016 number. To remedy this you should log into your Sprint account and put the 9016 number on your block list.

ASTRO File Manager
In order to install these you will need to use ASTRO File Manager, which acts as an explorer (like on your computer) so that you can find the file. After locating the file, just click on it and ASTRO should install it for you.

To the right is the QR code for ASTRO File Manager. Go the Android Market Place and download the Barcode Scanner application in order to scan the QR code. This saves you from having to go to the marketplace and search for files. Instead, you can use the Barcode Scanner to scan the QR code right on the screen and it will take you to the marketplace automatically to download it.

That's it! You should be good to go! I know it looks like a lot but it really isn't hard. I promise! E-mail me with questions. Additionally, here is a guide that tells you everything that a ROM from Cyanogen does provided by Market4Android.
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