There is a lot of information out there on how to do this and that in order to get a custom ROM on your phone. Instead of just telling you what to do with yours I’ll share my experiences ROMing my HTC Hero. Since this is my first attempt at rooting my Hero and applying a phone ROM I’ll try to explain everything in the order I did things and the questions/problems/successes I run into. I am by no means a subject matter expert on phone ROMs but if you, too, are looking to get your first ROM working then this “experience guide” will likely prove helpful. If nothing else, you’ll learn from my mistakes and save countless hours of time and frustration.
1) Installing some software (backup and root checker)
The first thing I did was install Titanium Backup (free version) from the Marketplace. It has great reviews and everyone says you dang well better back up your phone settings or bad things can happen! So this is the app I chose to work with.
On the download page it showed similar applications I might be interested in so I clicked on one called Root Checker and installed this one too. It’s free, has great ratings, and it tells you whether or not your phone is rooted. It’ll likely come in handy later just to verify the successful HTC Hero root. After Root Checker finished installing I ran it just to see what it was. It’s very simple and with one click it said my phone DOES NOT HAVE root access. Great! I know the app is working.
Next thing I did was open Titanium Backup (free version) and it errored out with “Sorry, I could not acquire root privileges.” Whoops! Guess I have to root the phone before this app is going to work. Let’s do that next.
2) Installing the root APK
The ROOT APK I downloaded was from http://cache.techie-buzz.com/images/mobiles/arnaw/downloads/instant-root.zip . If you don’t have a ZIP reader on your phone you’ll have to go to the Marketplace and download any of a hundred free ZIP apps. I use AndroZip. When you download the ZIP file you need to save it into the /sdcard root. DO NOT SAVE IT INSIDE ANY DIRECTORIES. This was a warning on most of the sites I referenced. Better safe than sorry!
Once it downloaded, I opened the ZIP reader and found the InstallRoot.apk file and clicked it. Then I clicked Install from the options. A permission window popped up like any other application and after saying yes it only took about 2 seconds to complete. Is it rooted now? I better double check by using the root checker app I downloaded a few minutes ago.
3) Checking root access
After opening Root Checker again and running a verification it says it failed because root is not available on the phone. I closed the program and reopened it a second time with the same results. Just to make sure I tried to use the Titanium Backup program again but that, too, says I don’t have root access. In minor frustration I thought maybe a total reboot of the phone will work. It boots back up, I test the programs again, and same results. Now I’m getting a little more frustrated.
After a couple hours of looking at forums I found a different program to root the phone. This one is called z4root and is a free download from http://handheld.softpedia.com/dyn-postdownload.php?p=110178&t=4&i=1. Same thing as before, save it to your phone and use a file manager to open the APK file. While running the program it was doing something for about 5 minutes and then a message popped up saying REBOOTING. I didn’t know what to do so I let it sit for about 45 minutes and nothing rebooted or changed. I manually hit the power button to reboot the phone and upon reboot I launched the root checker and it said I had root access! Yay!
After running Titanium Backup everything seemed so time consuming. Even with the batch job feature it still requires a LOT of clicks to get everything backed up. After downloading a number of other backup apps I came across MyBackup Root from the market place. It’s free and worked WONDERFULLY! There may be some better ones out there but this one was free and didn’t require a lot of time on my part. Just to be sure though I did write down the contact names and numbers from my address book. Once the backup was done I connected to my computer and dumped the backup files and everything from my SD card. Can’t be too safe!
5) Flashing a recovery image
Already put in about 4.5 hours of time prior to this step, finding out exactly what I needed to do to get a recovery image for the HTC hero proved disappointing. About an hour more into it I found a Rom Manager by Clockwork Mod in the Marketplace. Some people said this one works GREAT and it’s completely GUI based. Once it installed I just opened it and clicked Flash ClockworkMod Recovery. It took a few minutes but was very, very easy. Finally, an easy step!
6) Downloading the final ROM and making everything work
I chose Cyanogen 7 (CM7) as the ROM to install on this HTC Hero. The latest stable version for me was http://download.cyanogenmod.com/get/update-cm-7.1.0-RC1-Heroc-signed.zip. It was downloaded and placed directly on the root of the SD card. From there I reopened the ClockwordMod Recovery app and chose the Backup and Restore option to perform a backup of my CURRENT rom. I don’t know what this does that the previous image download I did earlier but I couldn’t pass up yet one more backup. Now a lot of things have to go wrong before my data isn’t recoverable which gives me a sigh of relief. The ClockwordMod Recovery took about 15 minutes to complete but it was completely automated.
After the backup was completed I wiped the phone and the cache and installed the ROM through ROM Manager. It took about 20 minutes to install Cyanogen 7 on my HTC Hero (CDMA) but there weren’t any problems! When it first booted I’ll admit I was quite freaked out about the device bricking or something not working correctly the first time. Everything looked good EXCEPT the first thing I wanted to do was bring over my contact data again.
WHOOPS! I don’t have any installed APPS right now and the app I used to back up my data (MyBackup Root). First thought was to load the Marketplace but CRAP! There is NO MARKETPLACE! Now what? I searched forum after forum and there was a lot of people explaining how to fix this but most of it made no sense. One reply said “it’s a CW setting” and looking through all the settings I could find I couldn’t figure out what the heck that was supposed to mean and wondered how a response like that could be helpful. There was one APP that was still installed and it was the ROM Manager that performed the very last backup of my phone. I opened it up and clicked DOWNLOAD ROM from the menu and it gave a few choices. I found out by trial and error that installing Google Apps from this menu will install Gmail and other misc. Google apps as well as the Marketplace. Once that was installed life was good again.
I reinstalled MyBackup Root and performed a recovery of my data. It succeeded and required a reboot. SWEET! After hitting the power button the phone now has an UBER COOL REBOOT BUTTON! Upon reboot the entire screen changed from something navigatable to something obscenely difficult to figure out what to do. The icon I used to quickly access all my applications is now replaced with three circles on the bottom that, when clicked, all they say is they aren’t used with any applications yet. There was nothing about this on Google so it took over an hour to figure out how to get back so I could add every shortcut and widget back to my home. Messaging and Phone are under Applications! They aren’t widgets! So if you are looking around for those don’t be snooping in the wrong directory. Once everything was mostly back in order I used MyBackup Root again and did an application and media backup so the applications and photos/videos would come back. It was pretty straight forward and required a reboot.
After about 7 hours of working on the Cyanogen ROM for the HTC Hero (CDMA) everything seems to be working well. The phone boots up at about the same speed but once the phone is “up” the applications move a lot faster. Getting APKs for the important Sprint Navigation wasn’t difficult but it wasn’t expected either. None of the recovery applications copied that over so it had to be redownloaded. The voicemail app, too, had to be reinstalled again for whatever reason. I haven’t yet received or sent any phone calls or texts yet or even tried Spring Navigation but once that is done I’ll be sure to leave updates below.