How to root HTC Desire and installl a Custom ROM.

Syavash Pahore

People entering the world of Android, have alot to learn, there is so much you can do with your cellphone and the possibilities are endless! If you are an HTC Desire user, jump right in for a detailed noob proof guide to rooting your smartphone and installing a custom rom.


Part 1: How to root.

The first step to modifying your stock Desire, is rooting it. Root refers to getting SU permissions (super user access) to the Android OS, just like a Administrator on a Windows PC. Rooting has several benefits:

1)      It allows you to flash a custom recovery image that replaces the stock HTC Recovery.

2)      With a Custom recovery you can erase data, delete caches, backup and restore you cell phone through Nan-droid backup.

3)      It also allows you to install a custom ROM (more on that in Part 2 of the guide).

4)      After rooting you can do numerous other stuff as well such as turning off the security flag on your device (S-off), updating the radio on your desire, install custom kernels (ex. For over-clocking) etc.

Now that we’re clear about what root access gives you and what it is, we’ll get down to the actual process.

NOTE: If you brick your device or cause any sort of hardware, software damage to it, we are in NO WAY responsible. Please use the guide at your own risk. However if you follow the guide word to word there is extremely little risk of bricking your Desire.

Steps to root:


1)      Firstly we’ll download the files we need for the rooting process i.e the latest version of HTC Sync, Android USB Driver (hacked HBOOT drivers that need to be installed before the actual process begins, you can get them HERE and HERE) and finally the most important bit i.e. Unrevoked. (software that roots your device and installs Clockwork Mod which is a Custom recovery mod mentioned above.

2)      Install HTC Sync (if not installed already) and then uninstall it. Keep in mind to only uninstall “HTC Sync” mentioned in Add or Remove programs, we need the remaining HTC services as they have the ADB (Android Debug Bridge) drivers that “Unrevoked” needs to root your device.

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3)      Now restart your phone by holding down the volume down and power button simultaneously. A white screen should turn on with information regarding your cell and some menus. This is referred to as the HBOOT menu as written on your screen. At this point (ensure once more HTC Sync is uninstalled!) plug your phone into your PC and make sure, HBOOT USB PLUG is mentioned on your device.

4)      Open Device Manager, there should be an exclamation mark along which “Android 1.0" will be written. Right click it and select Update Driver software.  Browse for the drivers at the next screen and select the Android USB Driver you download in Step 1. (Note: The download USB driver is a .zip file, you need to extract it to your desktop and THEN select it at this step while updating the driver)

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5)      Once the process is complete, Device manager should show “Android Bootloader Interface as installed). At this step disconnect the USB cable and reboot both your Desire and your PC. (Rebooting your PC is necessary!)

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6)      Now that the hacked HBOOT drivers are installed, you just need to run Unrevoked and you’re rooted. On your Desire, go to Settings > Applications and Enable “Unknown Sources”. Under Development also enable “USB Debugging mode”

7)      Now plug in the USB cable, select “Charge only” on your Desire when it asks about the type of connection.

8 )      Right click the Unrevoked program and Run it as Administrator, it should detect the Android cell phone (make sure USB Debugging is enabled!) and start the flashing process. The program will restart your cell phone several times, which is normal, and once its done, it will say so on your PC. Congratulations you have successfully rooted your HTC Desire!

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Part 2: How to flash a Custom ROM.

A custom ROM, is a file that replaces the the stock HTC Sense ROM on your Desire. Installing a custom ROM changes the feel and look of your HTC Desire (and mostly, removes the HTC Sense UI aswell as HTC only apps, like Friend stream)  and adds many extra features aswell. If you have a rooted Desire, you should definitely try out all the ROMS out there. The one we will install in this guide will be Cyanogen Mod 7. (The process is the same for all ROMS)


1) Download Cyanogen Mod 7 or any other ROM for your HTC Desire and copy the .zip file over to your SD card's root directory/main directory (not any subfolders!)

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2)      The rest of the process does not require a PC. You can disconnect the USB cable if you wish. Reboot the device into HBOOT (mentioned in Part 1, Step 3).

3)      Once in HBOOT, open Recovery from there. Now make a backup through Nandroid, in-case anything goes wrong or you don’t like CM7, you can restore from the backup back to stock rooted ROM that you had before. To backup, go to “backup and restore” in Recovery and select Backup. (this is commonly known as Nandroid backup, although it doesn't say so in the Recovery menu)

4)      Now we need to:

·         Wipe data/ factory reset

·         Wipe cache partition

·         Wipe dalvik cache (mentioned under Advanced)

5)      At the main Recovery screen, select “Install zip from sd card”, then choose “choose zip from sd card”. Now simply select the CM7 .zip file on your SD card and install it. Once it is down, simply reboot and you should boot into CM7.


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