Upgrading my HTC Desire to Android 2.3 Gingerbread

OK, I have been already for 6 months with my HTC Desire, have upgraded it to FroYo, which left it approximately the same way it was previously with Eclair, and was already beginning to get bored.

What was left? Trying an upgrade to newly released Gingerbread.

The picture above already gives you an idea of the result......

My two main concerns:

1. Finding a ROM version that was reliable - since the Desire is my primary device,
2. Having Hebrew in the device at the end of the process - since without Hebrew using the device in Israel will be impossible, even though my calendar and phonebook are kept in English.

More after the break.


Learning the subject

OK, taking in account my main concerns, I first went to check if there is an Hebrew solution that would work for Gingerbread, and found this Hebrew Fix Script which has been written for FroYo but has been proven to work as well for Gingerbread. The work is the fruit of a very talented Israeli users & developers community, www.iandroid.co.il which has been doing miracles with Android.

Next, I began to look for a good Android 2.3 ROM, and got to this thread at www.xda-developers.com, which is an index of all there is regarding the HTC Desire. At the beginning of the thread, a list of ROMs, and a link to the download of each one of them and to the thread that discusses it. Going through the different threads and the list of problems that each user has found while trying to install it was an interesting study task.

At the end, I sympathized most with the Oxygen ROM, and decided to download it. Here is the thread describing it, and here is the direct download link.

Update 03/03/2011 - Latest updates to Oxygen ROM were kind of unstable and did an autonomous reset every day-and-a-half approximately. At the end I decided two week ago to move to the REDUX ROM, which is smaller by a little, does not reset autonomously and has the camcorder working. I have been working since then with this ROM and I am very happy with it. It is perfectly stable until the point I managed to see. You can get it from this thread or from this direct download link.


1. HTC Desire, of course!

2. Your device should be rooted with ClockworkMod. Using Unrevoked3 to root it will work well.

3. You can do all the processes manually from the Recovery menu, but if you don't want to deal with all those strange button uses, it would be advisable to install ROM Manager from the Android Market.

4. If you are already at the market, install also Titanium Backup Free at your device, and then go in there, choose the batch tasks from the menu, and perform a full user applications + data backup. You will be able to restore many things from there later.

5. Please copy the ROM file you have downloaded to the root directory of the MicroSD card. The file is a ZIP file. Please don't open it, leave it like that. The flashing program knows how to deal with opening the ZIP.

Time to begin working.

The process

I still remember the old happy days of the i-mates (as well made by HTC) in which whenever we were flashing a new ROM, if we hadn't got close to bricking the device once or twice then the experience was not complete. Well, I must say that this has changed deeply with the Desire and other android devices: the upgrade process is all done in batch by the device itself, from a copy of the ROM that is placed in the MicroSD card, and I haven't found any special problem in flashing ROMs to any HTC phone. The Desire is being flashed for the 4th time (3 different Froyo ROMs and now this Gingerbread one) and my daughter's Wildfire has also been upgraded to Froyo since the original (but rooted, for the Hebrew BIDI engine) ROM was too slow with that processor. No problem whatsoever in any of the upgrades.

So, what did I do? Follow the following instructions:

PART A: Upgrading the ROM

1. Go into ROM Manager and choose the option Install from SD Card

2. You will see a directory list of the SD Card. Choose your ROM File.

3. The software will ask you if to backup current ROM and if to wipe device. The first option is up to you (the backup will be good to restore previous version if you decide to go back one day), but regarding the wipe, DO IT !!!

4. In case the system asks you to approve Superuser rights to ROM Manager, do it as well, since this will be needed to complete the process of flashing.

5. System will reboot into recovery mode and you will see a lot of things happening in the screen. Never mind, it is supposed to be like that. You will probably need to wait 8 to 10 minutes.

6. At the end of the flashing, the system will reboot again, and go into the Android First Use wizard. Just fill the options as you would usually do and you are ready to go.

PART B: Applying The Hebrew Fix Script

1. If you haven't donloaded the script from the link above, download it (or any other ROM you have chosen) to your computer. Then choose a directory you can remember and open the ZIP file there.

2. Turn your device off and then turn it on in recovery mode (achieved by holding down the volume down button while you press the power button. From the initial menu choose Recovery.

3. You should have already installed the USB Drivers for Android in your computer. You can do it by installing HTCSync, but not running it.

4. Connect your device to your computer. You should see the message of the drivers being installed, and then you are ready to start.

5. In the computer, open My Computer and go to the directory in which you have expanded the script. There, go to the Windows directory, and execure commands.exe.

6 From that moment on, a number of command line windows and a number of program windows will pop-up. The command line black windows are mostly for showing you what the software is doing, while the program Windows (white) ask you for your permission for executing certain functions. You can permit all, or leave some untested funtions without execution.

7. At the end of the process, the device will reboot.

8. In principle, it is done. Now you can re-install Titanium Backup, go to your backup and restore all applications and some of the settings. Feel free to restore all apps, this won't damage anything. Regarding settings, here are the ones which were important for me to restore: SMS/MMS/APN, wireless networks list. I haven't touched any of the others.

The result

Here is my home screen after the upgrade:

The ROM doesn't use HTC Sense, but another minor launcher. In the case of RC6, it is using Zeam launcher, but I've heard they went back to ADW-Launcher on RC7.

The lowest line is saved for quick access shortcuts that are seen in all 7 pages of the home page. BTW, after installation you have only 3 pages, but this is configurable at settings.

Some of the widgets you see (the clock & weather widget that reminds the one from HTC Sense, and the communications on/off widgets) have been downloaded from the market, since the previous ones I used existed only in Sense.

The last widgets I have described are not necessarily needed, since they exist in the notification screen as you can see at the top of the screen.

This is the program menu. It has a black background now, and looks very nice. It is also much more responsive and quick than in the past.

The browser has also gone through a major change, it looks  a lot nicer and works a lot faster.

In general the device is a lot faster with this ROM than it was previously. It is working well and smooth, and the only non-working function is the camcorder - and no, it is not just a case of upgrading the radio (baseband), this is already in last version. The developer of the ROM says that he will only include the camcorder drivers whenever Google release the OTA upgrade for the Nexus One meaning we will have to wait a couple of weeks more.

The camera, however, is working perfectly. And since I record very little from the device, I have decided this was not a show stopper.

I have prepared a video to demonstrate the responsiveness of the device. Here it is:

I hope you have enjoyed the trip. Now go and do it .