HOW TO: Install A Custom ROM On Your HTC Desire

Once you’ve rooted your phone you’ll probably want to install a custom ROM to take full advantage of the new gateway you’ve opened in to phone modding.

Requirements

  1. A rooted Desire

Choosing A ROM
If you’ve already found a ROM you want to install then skip down to the “Installing the ROM” section.

I use XDA-Developers to browse and download ROMs.  There’s a massive selection there all created and customised by various developers.
Just visit the Desire Development section to find a ROM

There’s plenty of ROMs to choose from, each with their strengths and weaknesses.  In order to pick a good ROM there’s a few things to consider:

  • Developer – ROMs are developed usually by individuals, some are created by teams (such as CyanogenMod).  There’s a few dev’s that are well known and have decent reputation, here’s a few examples:
    1. richardtrip – developer of the DeFrost ROM
    2. AdamG – developer of the OpenDesire ROM
    3. uDK – released the leaked Froyo for Desire
    4. Cyanogen – well known for the CyanogenMod series (but currently no stable version for the Desire)
  • Features – what’s included with the ROM.  Here’s a few things to look out for:
    1. HTC Sense – quite a few ROMs don’t actually have HTC Sense.  They run Vanilla Android, which is Android without HTC’s Sense User Interface, and HTC’s applications.  I quite like Vanilla Android, but if you need Sense then make sure the ROM you choose has it.  If you’re not familiar with Vanilla Android then there’s no harm in installing a vanilla ROM to try it out.
    2. A2SD – Apps to SD card feature which means you can install apps to your SD and not have to worry about free space on your phone.  Although Froyo brings A2SD to the Desire anyway, I still managed to run out of space using it (it stores part of the app on the phone still).  As a workaround I switched to the unofficial A2SD method which stores the full app on your SD card though requires an initial setup stage where you create a partition on your SD card to store the apps.
    3. Cache to SD AKA dalvik2sd – This relates to the unofficial A2SD mentioned above.  If you have a fast SD card (class 4 or 6) then it might be worth looking out for this feature too.  If you’re still on a Class 2 like me then it’s probably better if you get a ROM without this.
    4. Custom Kernels – some ROMs will have a custom kernel which features UV (Undervolting) and/or OC (Overclocking).  From my limited understanding, UV causes less voltage to be provided to the processor and therefore increases battery life, whereas OC increases the maximum number of CPU cycles and therefore makes the phone run a little bit faster.  I prefer to stick with the stock kernel in terms of OC/UV.  Additionally, some kernels add support for things like ext3/ext4 partitions, Wireless N and volume hacks.
    5. Theming – some ROMs have exactly the same functionality as other ROMs, but simply look different.  Dev’s have created skinned versions of both Vanilla ROMs and of HTC Sense ROMs.  If you want an alternate look then a themed ROM might be worth looking out for.
    6. Extras – there’s a lot of other customisations developers choose to make too.  Usually the dev will list all the features and modifications in the first post of the article (assuming you’re using XDA) so you can have a look and see if it’s something you like!
  • Updates and Issues-have a look at the topic to see if there’s been many updates to the ROM.  Good developers maintain their ROM and actively fix any problems that occur.  Unfortunately, there’s a number of ROMs where the developer simply wanted their 5 minutes of fame, and then didn’t bother updating the ROM any more even though it has several issues.
    At the top of quite a few ROM topics, the developer will mention and issues that the ROM has so that you’re aware of them before installing.  You can also read through the topic to see if users are reported any other bugs too.  If it seems unstable then it might be worth holding off that ROM for a while.

Installing a ROM

  1. MAKE A BACKUP OF EVERYTHING FIRST.  If you don’t know how have a look at my tutorial here.
    There’s also a backup method in ROM Manager called “Backup current ROM” which I suggest running at least once too.
  2. Download the ROM file from the topic on XDA.  Certain ROMs such as the HTC Sense Froyo’s also need a radio file, if that’s the case then download that too
  3. Connect your Desire to your computer in Disk Drive mode
  4. Copy the ROM file (should be a zip file) and radio (if you need one) to the SD card
  5. Unmount your phone – Eject and change mode to Charge Only
  6. Reboot into recovery using one of these methods:
    • If you have adb install just open Command Prompt/Terminal and type: adb shell reboot recovery
    • If you have ROM Manager installed just choose the “Reboot into Recovery” option
    • Otherwise, turn off your phone -> Hold down Volume Down and Power to boot into hboot -> use the Volume Down key to select “Recovery” and then press the Power button to select it
  7. Once in recovery use your trackpad to scroll down to install zip from sdcard
  8. Choose choose zip from sdcard
  9. Select the ROM to install – your ROM will begin to install
  10. Once installed press the back button a couple of times to go back to the main screen of Clockwork Recovery
  11. Choose reboot system now
  12. If your ROM needs a new radio installing then check if there’s any specific steps in the ROM topic, otherwise just repeat steps 6-9 but select the radio zip file instead of the ROM in step 8
  13. Your phone will now restart and attempt to boot into the custom ROM

FAQs

  1. My phone gets stuck at the boot screen, help!
    Just go back into recovery and select the wipe data/factory reset option.  Then restart your phone.  If the problem persists have a look in the ROM topic because it may just be a faulty version of the ROM.
  2. How Do I Create An Ext Partition for A2SD?
    This is only needed if you’re using the unofficial A2SD script.  If you want to use Froyo’s built-in version then you don’t need to do anything.
    You’ll need 1) AmonRA recovery port: link and 2) UnrEVOked again
    Using the root guide you used previously and get to the point where you have to run UnrEVOked – but DON’T CONNECT YOUR PHONE yet
    Go on File -> Custom Recovery, and select the AmonRA file you just downloaded (e.g. recovery-RA-desire-v1.7.0.1-R5.img)
    Now connect your phone and let UnrEVOked do it’s thing
    You’ll end up in recovery mode, but now with a different recovery image
    Scroll down to Partition SD Card
    Select Partition SD
    Press Trackball to confirm
    Set the swap size to 0
    Set the ext-2 size to any size you want – this is where your apps will be stored.  I’ve found 2GB way more than adequate but it’s down to personal preference.
    Fat32-size should be remainer.  This is your normal storage space for everything that’s normally on your SD card (what you see when you connect in Disk Drive)
    Press the trackball and your SD card will be partitioned.   When you restart your phone the A2SD script should automatically copy all your apps to the new ext2 partition, and installl any future apps to there too!
  • http://Website micha

    great work, thank you!!

  • http://Website mike

    hi i roteed my phone using your insturctions now i want to install a froyo build useing these instructions but since root my pc wount pick up my phone. can you help please

  • http://Website david

    hello mike, had the same problem when i did mine, pc wouldent pick up my mobile , so i put my phone in recovery mode then unistalled the driver i installed as part of the guid and reinstalled htc sync, and it worked for me, just one point , you can just copy the froyo rom over to your sd card and install it from recovery, hope this helps

  • http://Website david

    ive installed froyo but also the A2SD, formated my card to ex2 then converted it to ex3, ive got a few apps about 23 on my card and about 15 apps on my phone but only have 49mb left , could you tell me if my A2SD is working? also ive found when ive removed an app from my phone but the memory dosent change and there are some apps that will not copy over to the sd card, hope you can advice, thanks ps… can you delete files from the phone?

  • http://Website nieuk

    Does the phone needs other than standard ROM for the A2SD script to work?
    I have rooted standard TMobile ROM and the main thing for me is to be able to install apps to SD. Can I install the script on its own without flashing the ROM??

    PS. this blog is absolutely brilliant for Desire users! keep up the good work!

  • http://Website nmgmarques

    Rooted with unrevoked. Worked great. Chose official froyo / sense release from opendesire team. Flashed that and the radio file. Now my mobile phone is stuck. It boots and shows the htc logo, then goes into the android logo screen and just keeps showing me this flashing android logo that just loops for 5 seconds, then disappears for a second or so and then returns and does that all over again. Been like this for a while now so pretty sure it’s not going to boot into 2.2

    Ideas?

  • http://Website Steffen

    Can you please explain what the “Radio Update” is about? What is it? What do I need it for?

  • http://Website david

    when you was updating the radio file did you touch the phone in anyway? also i would do some research on flashing the rom again to see if that solves your problem

  • http://Website mike

    hi i keep getting an status 7 error or somthing once the rom is trying to install

  • MrBrightside

    @mike – did david’s solution help in getting USB recognised? Which ROM and Recovery Image are you using?

    @david – does your ROM support the unofficial a2sd? If so you don’t have to manage apps as long as you have the ext partition – they all get installed to SD regardless of what you choose. If you’re using the default Froyo A2SD then space still going down is normal.

    @nieuk – I can’t seem to find a ROM that’s stock with just a2sd.

    @nmgmarques – have you tried performing a wipe using the recovery image?

    @Steffen – the Froyo radio allows 720p video recording. In general the radio usually improves things like reception, Internet connections and so on. I’ve never looked into it in much detail to be honest.

  • http://Website mike

    @mike i am using the official recovery image taken after for backup..as for rom i have tryed a couple none seem to work for me. and David’s solution didn’t work.

  • http://Website micha

    a general question: can i use roms for nexus one also for my desire ???? or does this depend on something ??

  • http://Website whereistheguru

    So I rooted my Desire with reflash and everything went fine. Tried to install the unofficial Froyo build. But after updating the Radio file my Desire got Stuck in the boot screen. How can I return into recovery mode?

  • http://Website aapgorilla


    david:

    ive installed froyo but also the A2SD, formated my card to ex2 then converted it to ex3, ive got a few apps about 23 on my card and about 15 apps on my phone but only have 49mb left , could you tell me if my A2SD is working? also ive found when ive removed an app from my phone but the memory dosent change and there are some apps that will not copy over to the sd card, hope you can advice, thanks ps… can you delete files from the phone?

    Don’t use ext3 for sd cards, the journaling will wear them and it’s much slower; use ext2 or ext4 without journaling. Incidentally ext2/3 is forward/backward compatible with ext3/2, so you don’t need to convert just mount as ext2 or ext3 (depending on what you want)

  • http://Website aapgorilla

    [quote]If you have adb install just open Command Prompt/Terminal and type: adb shell reboot recovery
    If you have ROM Manager installed just choose the “Reboot into Recovery” option[/quote]

    Forgive I don’t have my desire yet, so it might all be clear when I do have it but what are “abd install” and “ROM manager” and where do I get them and where(computer or phone)/how do I install them

  • http://Website UncleMonty

    Trying to follow this guide for the official HTC ROM (rooted) released on XDA, and something isn’t clear:

    – Do you need to perform a wipe data/reset?
    If you do perform a wipe data/reset, does this blank everything, and if so, is it simply a case of restoring from MyBackup or Titanium Backup once your phone has rebooted into the new ROM?

    I’m a bit confused how MyBackup/Titanium Backup or indeed any other apps will be there if everything has been wiped.

  • http://Website UncleMonty

    Well, I’ll reply to my own post!

    You DO need to wipe/reset, but by using Titanium Backup (TB) you can make restoring everything a complete breeze – Unless you want to hit “OK” to every app reinstall you’ll need the paid version, though (but that’s a bargain for what it does). Don’t forget to upgrade busybox by pressing the “problems?” button once you install it.

    Ensure you backup all apps and data (batch option in TB) before you start doing anything!

    You’ll have to re-download TB after the wipe, but that’s all you have to do, then you just use the batch mode to restore all missing apps and data.

    Your SD card will remain untouched, so all your photos etc. are safe (and in fact it’s where TB puts your backups!).

    HTH someone else.

  • http://Website Phalanui

    Hi there,

    When I follow this guide I get E: signature verification failed and then it tells me that the installation has been aborted (this is right after I choose the custom ROM that I want to be installed)

    Any help?

  • http://Website David

    Hi, I’v rooted my Desire using Unrevoked3 with no problems, but now the phone can’t see the SD card, I’v tried formatting the card on my computer to Fat32 but still no luck. Help

  • http://Website Jorge E.

    Hey there, great how-to you’ve written here!

    I’m having problems with the creation of the partition to A2SD.
    The link you provided to download Amon Ra is down. Ive googled for it and downloaded one from Android WIki, but when i try to boot it through Unrevoked3, i get stuck at the white HTC screen when the recovery is supposed to load.

    Been trying to find other sources to download Amon Ra for Desire but no luck so far, could you tell me where?

  • http://Website Laurynas

    Hi, my HTC desire HD can’t recovery. What should I do?

  • http://Website Laurynas

    I managed to go to recovery but now there is no “choose zip from sdcard” button. What should I do?

  • http://Website cipri


    aapgorilla:


    david:

    ive installed froyo but also the A2SD, formated my card to ex2 then converted it to ex3, ive got a few apps about 23 on my card and about 15 apps on my phone but only have 49mb left , could you tell me if my A2SD is working? also ive found when ive removed an app from my phone but the memory dosent change and there are some apps that will not copy over to the sd card, hope you can advice, thanks ps… can you delete files from the phone?

    Don’t use ext3 for sd cards, the journaling will wear them and it’s much slower; use ext2 or ext4 without journaling. Incidentally ext2/3 is forward/backward compatible with ext3/2, so you don’t need to convert just mount as ext2 or ext3 (depending on what you want)
    Like or Dislike: 0  0

    can clockwork recovery 2.5.1.8 convert ext2 to ext3 and ext3 to ext4? is the process reversible?

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  • http://Website nejc1337

    My phone is rooted and I have ClockworkMod recovery installed. Everything cool but when I choose Install .zip from SD card and then Choose .zip file it says it can’t find any files on the card. And when I choose Install update.zip it says there is no such file or directory.

    But I have already had rooted phone and all that worked back then. Then I unrooted it to get warranty back, I also changed the SD card (now I have 2 GB) and yesterday I rooted it. Now I can’t install ROMs.

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  • http://htc.com jeffry

    how i m instal my apps

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