Rooting and custom Firmware on the HTC Desire HD

Doing anything below will void your warranty.
Any damage to your phone due to any of this is your own responsibility, not mine nor the ROM developers.
Don’t venture into flashing of ROMS if you don’t know what you’re doing.

After HTC decided to push Android version 2.3.7 with HTC Sense 3.5 to my HTC Desire HD, I’ve had major problems with my phone. I do know that I could have just decided not to update, but I like being on the ‘cutting edge’ of it all (so much at the cutting edge as you can be with an older version of the Android OS).

The thing is that it seems HTC Sense 3.5 uses way to much of the precious hardware of my phone for it to work properly, at least if we look at the stock version of Android 2.3.7 and HTC Sense 3.5. That is why I decided to venture into rooting and flashing a custom firmware on my phone.

First of I had to found out how to root the phone and as it is there is no way to permanently root Android 2.3.7 on the HTC Desire HD. Luckily there is something called The Advanced Ace Hack Kit, which allows you to do a temporary root and downgrade the system to 2.3.5 where we get to do a permanent root.

It also installs Fastboot, which is a protocol used to update the flash filesystem via USB, and ClockworkMod Recovery, which replaces the stock recovery console and gives you more options.

It is the latter that is important when you want to install custom ROMS on your phone. It’s actually rather simple going on from here, now it’s just a matter of making a NANDroid backup of your phone from ClockworkMod Recovery and then find the ROM you’d like to experiment with. For the Desire HD I was looking around on the XDA Developers forum and found a few ROMS I’d try out.

Also the andrdcndy blog had a nice list of ROMS to check out.

I decided on trying out IceColdSandwich by LorD ClockaN for my first go, as it was an Android 4.0.3 ROM without HTC Sense. I really wanted to try something new after 1½ year of HTC Sense, so stock Android it was.

I started out with IceColdSandwich 5.5 and it was actually running pretty good. Some people have issues with the camera on the Desire HD with this ROM, but mine seemed to function as it should. I had maybe 1 crash on 5.5, but when update 6.0 came out my phone really started suffering with loads of random crashes, especially when I was on the phone with someone. Also after updating from 5.5 to 6.0 I started having camera issues and the fix provided didn’t help me out. Update 6.1 didn’t really make it better for me, so I started looking around to try something new (again).

Actually I liked IceColdSandwich a lot, but the random crashes was annoying and I really did change from the stock 2.3.7, with Sense 3.5 due to performance problems. Also the fact that there was no Danish T9 was a hassle when most of the communication you do on the phone is in Danish. A random keyboard crash when pressing the buttons L and I after each other didn’t help the impression and you actually do this a lot when writing Danish. Lastly sending and receiving MMS wasn’t possible on the stock messaging app, which meant I didn’t received a nice picture of my two nieces, which my sister sent.

This meant that I took a closer look at CyanogenMod, which is said to be one of the more stable ROM releases. Currently I’m on CyanogenMod 7.1.0 and everything is just running great out of the box. It’s built on Android 2.3.7, but without HTC Sense, which means I get great performance.

So far, I can’t really say anything bad about CyanogenMod, as it just works. No random crashes at all and after installing the the different Google Apps (gapps), which you can find here, it started out being just as I wanted it. It even automatically installed all my apps from the market without any other interaction from me than asking.

If you click the CyanogenMod logo below, you can see two screenshots from the ‘About phone’ part in the settings menu and see these from my phone for the two above mentioned ROMS.

I might return to the blog with more updates as I experiment with custom ROMS.