Installing Custom ROM’s on the HTC 10

You need to start with a rooted device…

Introduction
A while back I rooted the HTC10 that HTC sent me. Since then, I’ve not done much with the device. However, I did notice that rooting it DID break OTA updates for the stock ROM that ships with the device.

I found this out after I rooted the device and a device update notification showed up from AT&T. I suspect this was the Android Nougat update that was promised, but I’ll never know. Downloading the AT&T update and trying to install it simply reboots the device directly into TWRP Recovery for HTC10 and nothing more. Trying to do anything in TWRP at that point either results in a flash error or in a file not found error.

I’ve reached out to the author of the tutorial video but haven’t received any kind of response or acknowledgement.

I figured since I rooted the device and can flash just about any available ROM for it anyway, that I should likely get to flashing. However, before I get into anything here, I really need to relate the following:

  1. YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) & No Warranty
    Anything that’s suggested in any of this text or any of the linked articles either written by me or referenced by me and written by others is done at your own risk. I’m not telling you to do anything, can’t provide you with any support; and no warranty – either real or implied – is available by or through me, Soft32.com (or its related companies) or your device OEM or mobile carrier. If you flash your device and it bricks, you’re simply outta luck. (it’s the same risk I’m taking with the same YMMV issues with my HTC10, too).
  2. It’s all Just for Fun
    I’m not suggesting or implying that you HAVE to do anything I’m writing about. I think it’s cool and I like to do it, at times…
  3. I Ain’t Goin’ Overboard
    The reason I stopped using an Android device in the first place was because supporting a rooted device can be very tedious and time consuming. I started doing it because I was bored with the stock launcher and Android distribution on the Android phones I was using. I’m going down this road again, but only with a select chosen few custom ROM’s and then certainly NOT with nightly or experimental builds.

Resources
The first thing you’re going to need is a microSD card. If you don’t have one in your HTC10, stop what you’re doing and go get one. A 32GB card can as cheap as $13 bucks on Amazon while a 64GB card can be gotten for about $21 bucks. Both of these deals are available via the same URL and are available with Amazon Prime’s 2 day delivery service. Get as big a card as you can afford. The HTC 10 will support a 128GB card.

After you’ve got an SD card in your device and its mounted and readable, you’ll need to find some ROM’s to flash to the device. Of course, the best place to find this stuff is XDA-Developers and most specifically, in my case, the HTC10 Device Forum.

Once you get to the form on XDA-Developers, you need to spend a bit of time wandering around. All of the ROM threads are prefaced with a “[ROM]” label. All the kernels with a [KERNEL] label, etc. everything is easy to spot.

[ROM] threads are likely the most interesting to most folks, especially those of us that are among the noobies of the group. Most of these threads come with an introductory post that explain everything you’d likely ever want to know (and everything you don’t) about the ROM creator, its features, issues, bugs, etc. This post will come with instructions on how to install it, as well as any needed or desired components that make this ROM special. It will also include any special instructions and gotchas that you might need to care for. Follow their instructions to the letter. You’ll want to be able to back up that claim with facts, should you need help setting things right if they turn sideways.

Read through all of that information.

It will also include any special instructions and gotchas that you might need to care for. Follow their instructions to the letter. You’ll want to be able to back up that claim with facts, should you need help setting things right if they turn sideways.

If the ROM author offers any support if and when you have problems installing the ROM, I can promise that they will be more willing to help you if you’ve followed all of their instructions and paid attention to the known issues, etc. for their ROM. If you haven’t they will likely send you packing telling you you’re on your own. That’s not me, that’s just the way this advanced crowd rolls.

[KERNEL] threads will provide instructions and download links to alternative ROM kernels that can be flashed to your device. Kernels can most likely provide a great deal of enhanced functionality to the ROM you’re using. However, since this is really the heart and soul of the ROM, you need to treat it like the “heart transplant” it feels like.

While all kernels in any device forum will work with that device, they may NOT work or work well with every ROM. Make certain you read the instructions post – again, usually the first post in the thread – and take note of any listed warnings. If there are ROM’s in the forum that don’t work and play well with any specific kernel, it will likely be listed in either the instruction post of the kernel or the ROM (or both). Heed these warnings. Don’t install a kernel that doesn’t work with your target ROM. You’ll brick your device or worse.

Flashing a Custom ROM
I’m not going to go into a great deal of detail here (there will be some) on flashing a custom ROM. There are some very specific reasons for this, and I want everyone to understand why.

  1. Flashing a Custom ROM Voids the Warranty on Your Phone
    It doesn’t matter what device you have. It doesn’t matter what custom ROM you use. If you’ve rooted your device AND you proceed to flash a custom ROM on it afterwards, you’re risk bricking the device AND you void the warranty all in one fell swoop.As such, flashing your Android device with a custom ROM shouldn’t be done lightly, or by anyone who really doesn’t know what they’re doing or getting themselves into. Recovering your device from a bad flash can be a very tricky, and very long, stressful set of activities.
  2. I’m not Taking Responsibility
    If you flash your device and it bricks, winds up in a circular boot loop (that happened to me while researching and writing this article…it’s not easy to fix), or some other nasty result, it’s not on me… It’s on you. You do this at your own risk.
  3. Your Mileage May Vary
    Not every custom ROM is built equally. You need to find ones that work for you. However, XDA Developers remains the PREMIER resource for finding rooting instructions and help and for available compatible ROM’s for your device.

If you’re still good to go with flashing a custom ROM to your previously rooted Android device – I have an HTC 10 and will be using it for this article.

Please note that my HTC 10 is still running Marshmallow and a Marshmallow compatible firmware. While I will be flashing a Nougat (Android 7) ROM on this device, my HTC 10 will still be running that Marshmallow firmware.

To flash a new ROM to your device, follow these steps.

  1. Find a ROM
    The first thing you have to do is find a ROM that you like, with the features you’re looking for. There are always a LOT of ROM’s to choose from. Pick one that you like and that has a lot of support from the developer. Most ROM posts have screen shots and informative information in the first couple of posts. Again, go through these intro posts very carefully. Any gotchas will be listed there.
  2. Copy the ROM to your SD Card
    Connect your device to your computer via cable. After allowing it to connect to your PC, copy your ROM of choice to your device’s microSD card. Depending on your PC and the type of connection you have (USB2, USB 3.x or USB-C), this may take up to 15 minutes. It usually takes about seven to ten minutes for me.
  3. Reboot to Recovery Mode
    I’ll be speaking to TWRP Recovery as defined in my article on how to root the HTC 10.Reboot your device to its bootloader and then to the recovery partition. Press and hold the power and volume down button until the device buzzes and then the device logo appears. The device’ download mode screen should appear.

    Press the volume down button twice. The blue bar should move down to highlight “reboot to bootloader.” Press the power button to accept the choice. The device will reboot into its bootloader.

    Press the volume down button three times. The blue bar should highlight the words, “Boot to Recovery Mode,” and press the power button. The device will reboot into the TWRP Recovery Partition.
  4. Begin the Installation Process
    Once TWRP has loaded, tap the Install button.

    TWRP’s select storage screen will appear. Tap the Select Storage button on the bottom left corner of the screen.

    Select the location where you copied the ROM image you downloaded earlier. If you followed my previous suggestion, you copied it to your storage card. Select the Micro SDCard radio button and tap OK.

    Select the ROM you wish to flash. The Install ZIP screen will appear, asking you to confirm your choice and to swipe right to start the process.

    The flash process will start, the LeeDroid logo will appear, and Aroma will appear.
  5. Choose your Aroma Options

    Aroma is a ROM option selection application used to collect installation and OS default options in Android ROM’s. It’s fairly straight forward and easy to navigate through. There are, SEVERAL Aroma screens. I’m not going to run through them all here, as that would unnecessarily elongate this process. It also may not be very meaningful to everyone, as my installation options are unique to my preferences. There are, however, a few screens that you need to be aware of when you go through the process. I’m going to highlight those very quickly, here.
    Do you wish to perform a full wipe?
    This comes about 5 screens into the process. If you’re installing a new version of an existing ROM on your device, you don’t have to do a full wipe. If you’re installing a never used on your device before ROM, you should always wipe your device before installing a new ROM. While you’ll need to reinstall all of your apps and tweak the ROM to your liking, you’re likely going to do a lot of that anyway. Failing to wipe your device appropriately, will likely cause it to become unbootable, as your data partition likely contains data specific to the functioning of your OLD ROM, and will conflict with the new one you’re flashing.

    Which firmware are you running?
    You are asked this on screen 7. Choose the right firmware! This process will NOT upgrade your device from one firmware version to another. It will only install the a version of Android that will run on your device; and that version must be properly configured for your device’s firmware.CHOOSE THE RIGHT OPTION HERE or risk bricking your device.
  6. Let the Install Run

    After all of your options are selected, tap the Next button to begin the actual installation.

    Let the install run. The ROM will install with the options that were selected. Tap the Next button when you’re done.
  7. Reboot the Device

    Tap the Next button. You’ll be taken to the TaDa page, indicating that you’ve successfully installed the ROM and a reboot is required.Reboot the device. Let the device do whatever the device wants to do when it reboots. It’s likely going to take a while to get through the first reboot after the flash, as well.Don’t panic.This is normal and not something to be concerned about. There are cache files that need to be created and written to internal storage, and this happens on the first boot of the device after a ROM flash.

Conclusion
Flashing a ROM on a rooted Android device is always an exciting time. In many cases, users buy a specific Android device for one of two reasons – they either love the hardware or they love the OS screens they see. It’s rarely ever both; but when that happens, its magical.

The HTC 10 I have is a truly awesome piece of hardware. I love the device, the camera, the Ice View Case; and was really NOT impressed with the version of Android that shipped with it. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t anything to write home about, either. Simply put, it allowed the device to operate. That’s about it.

Rooting your device and then installing custom ROM’s on it can be very exciting. It allows you to use functionality that the OEM or even the carrier never envisioned for the device in the first place. It allows you to extend the life of your device. I know users who find three to four different ROM’s that work with their device and then flash back and forth between the versions as the mood strikes them. If the device they own is popular and has a lot of enthusiast support, I’ve seen users do this for a period of three to four years with a single device. (Most smartphones are designed with a two year life span, max.)

Caution should be taken with any device flash, however. There are a lot of opportunities for failure and flashing the wrong type or version of a ROM on your device can easily brick it. As such, the moment you flash a custom ROM, you void the warranty on your device.

At the end of the day, READ the information the ROM author posts. Follow any and all instructions that are posted. Ask questions on the forum if you have them; and by all means… HAVE FUN!

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Rooting the HTC 10

If you truly want to make it your own…

Introduction
There are legitimate reasons for rooting an Android device. They aren’t all about custom ROM’s and the like. And since its now LEGAL to jailbreak devices, some of the sexy and taboo has gone out of the game and for some – me included – its now often more hassle than its worth.

However, there are often some good reasons for rooting an Android device that go beyond the desire for a custom ROM. Some of those reasons speak to the need for a backup app like, Titanium Backup. Besides, it’s been a while since I’ve jail broken or rooted any kind of smartphone. I wanted to give it a try…

Improved Rooting Process
To be very blunt, I’ve always owned either a Nexus or HTC Android Phone. My daughter had a brief dalliance with the Samsung Galaxy (1) smartphone a number of years back, but that proved to be a bit challenging when it came to customization. It also cured her of any interest in Android as I recall, as a matter of fact.

Rooting and customizing an Android device is NOT an easy process. However, in the seven or so years that I’ve been looking into it, it has gotten a LOT easier. The process used to involve invoking commands that ran a process and then invoked a known security hole. Once invoked, the process that you ran was “broken,” leaving you with access that had elevated privileges where you could then run commands that made those privileges permanent. Once that happened, you could unlock the bootloader (if locked and needed to be unlocked), install a better recovery partition and SU (or Super User) that made root access system wide.

Doing all of those things in the right order, at the right TIMES, wasn’t easy. In many cases you might have to perform some steps multiple times, or depending on how things worked, you may even brick your device. I know I had more than one harrowing moment where I thought I had bricked more than one device. I have been fortunate, however, NOT to have had that happen. I’ve always been able to get a wayward (or device that I thought I had bricked) back. However, this is a REAL issue, so, hence, the following notice:

WARNING – Rooting your Android device involves modifying some very key and deep system level settings and files. It (can, and likely will) void your warranty. It may also brick your device and make it permanently unusable if things turn sideways. You do any and ALL of it at your own risk, and neither I nor Soft32 sanction, suggest or encourage you to undertake these activities. No offer of warranty is expressed or implied. You move forward with any of this AT YOUR OWN RISK. Period.

Full instructions can be found on this easy to follow video. Please note that the instructions are for a Windows system. If you use a Mac or Linux system, you will need to sub in the appropriate tools (like Terminal, etc.)

The video is just under 15 minutes in length and should be easy enough for nearly anyone and everyone to follow, provided you’re familiar using the Windows Command Prompt. I’m not going to go over everything here, despite the step-by-step stuff you’re going to see, largely because the video is really very, VERY good; and because there are a LOT of How to Root articles and videos available for the HTC 10. However, there are some specific things that I do want to touch on and say.

Process
The process is fairly simple, but you’ll need to complete everything in order. You can start and stop if needed, but you should complete each of the noted steps in full before stopping. It’s not recommended that you start and stop unless you really know what you’re doing. The entire process will likely take you two to three (2-3) hours, especially if you’re new to this, so again, make sure you watch the video and have everything you need before you start.

1. Gather the software
2. Prep the device
3. Unlock the bootloader
4. Install the Recovery Image
5. Install SuperSU

Gather the Software
You’ll need the following tools. Links are not provided here. These are readily and freely available all over the internet. Please make certain you have everything that you need before you start and that each title has all of the required files.

This is especially true for Fastboot and ADB. I had to download the software separately, as I couldn’t find the software with all of the same files in it as described in the video. Take your time. Get all the files, as you will need a fully functioning Fastboot in order to do this.
1. Fastboot
2. TWRP 3.0.2.1 (or greater) recovery image
3. SuperSU v2.68 or greater
4. ADB
5. Android SDK
6. HTC Driver 4.10.0.001.msi (or greater)

Device Prep
You don’t need to do a lot here, but this stuff is important.

Developer Mode
This process is documented, like, nowhere. Or at least it isn’t documented anywhere any regular user would learn about it or find it. However, without this stuff, you’re never going to be able to get the job done.

Go to Settings – About – Software Information – More. Tap on the build number 10-15 times (or more) until the device tells you that Developer Mode has been enabled. This will enable other device communication options in Settings that you will need to check in order to root the device.

Go to Settings – Developer Options (this is a new option that appears after the above is done). Turn on OEM Unlocking. This will give you the permissions to actually go through the process of unlocking the boot loader.

Power off the device. The next step is unlocking the bootloader. Make certain you’ve got all the software you need downloaded and installed before moving forward. It will make things a lot easier, and you won’t have to start and stop with some of the things as you see in the video.

Unlocking the Bootloader
You’re going to need Fastboot for this, and you’ll need to work from a command prompt in this section. Again, watch the video, as it will take you step by step through the entire process, and it will show you the exact screens you will see while doing all of this.

Again, I’m abbreviating this process, so, please, watch the video. Though the author does initially make a mistake about this section and then corrects himself.

Connect the device to your USB cable. Turn your device back on, but when doing so, press and hold both the power button and the volume down button until you see the HTC logo. You’re going to be put into bootloader mode. The bootloader will state that its locked, and you’ll see a split screen display.

After you have your device connected to your PC via USB cable, the device booted to the bootloader and Fastboot can see it, you’re going to get a identifier token from the device that you will then enter into a special page on the HTC website.

With the HTC10 connected to your system, open a Command Prompt window and change the directory to where ever you have Fastboot installed. Once in that directory, type the following command into the Command Prompt window and press enter:

Fastboot oem get_identifier_token

Fastboot get Token

This will return a huge string of numbers that will display in the Command Prompt window. You will need to use the Copy-Paste function out of the DOS window to grab everything from

<<<< Identifier Token Start >>>>

to

<<<< Identifier Token End >>>>

including those banner lines.

Fastboot Retrieve Token

You will then need to go to HTCDev.com and create an account. After creating your free account and logging in, click the Unlock Bootloader icon. Follow the links. When you get to the Unlock Bootloader page, you’ll follow these instructions:

1. Click the device dropdown
2. Select HTC 10 from the supported device list
3. Click the Begin Unlock Bootloader button
4. Click Yes on the, “Are you sure…?” dialog
5. Click the checkboxes on the Legal Terms dialog
6. Click the Proceed to Unlock Instructions button
7. Follow the instructions on page 1 of the unlock instructions page. (It also contains links to Fastboot, if you don’t have it; and will also show you how to retrieve your Identifier Token. You can breeze through this, as you’ve already got Fastboot AND the token by this point, if you’re following the video…)
8. Click the Proceed to Step 5 button
9. Scroll to the bottom of the second page of the process. It’s here where you’ll paste in the Identifier.
10. Click the Submit button

Get Unlock Token

You’ll be emailed a file that you’ll use to unlock the bootloader of your phone. You’ll use Fastboot for this. You’ll need to save the file that HTC emails you, Unlock_code.bin, to your Fastboot directory and then type this command in the DOS window and then press enter:

Fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin

Once flashed, reboot your device. It will rebuild itself. Go back to the bootloader and it should read that it is now unlocked, but your device isn’t rooted yet.

Install the Recovery Image
At some point, you should have downloaded a copy of the TWRP recovery image. This is an image file of a new recovery image that will give you a number of different options that are more advanced than the recovery image that comes with your HTC 10. It will make installing the last part of this process – SuperSU – a lot easier and will also allow you to install custom ROM images that may become available for the HTC 10.

Follow this process to install the recovery image.

  1. Copy twrp-3.0.2-2ppme.img to your Fastboot folder
  2. At the DOS prompt window, while still in the Fastboot directory, type the command:
    Fastboot flash recovery twrp-3.0.2-2ppme.img. The file will copy over to the device.
  3. On your device, hit the power key to reboot to bootloader
  4. This will bring up the device’s actual bootloader.
  5. Press the down volume button until Boot to Recovery mode is selected on your phone and then press the power button. This will activate TWRP Recovery.
  6. Press the cancel button on the device.
  7. Keep everything read only.
  8. Press the Wipe button
  9. Press the Format Data button
  10. When prompted, type the word, “yes”. This will format the Data partition on your device.
  11. Once complete, tap Reboot, then tap Bootloader. The device screen will quickly flash and put you back in the white bootloader screen.
  12. Press the volume down button until you get to Reboot to Recovery mode. Press the power button. This will put you back in the TWRP recovery screen.

Next, proceed to the Install SuperSU section. You’re device still isn’t rooted. The next section, accomplishes this.

Install SuperSU
Please remember that you shouldn’t do this lightly. It’s at this point, that you will be able to raise the privileges on your device and actually root it.

  1. In the TWRP recovery screen, swipe to allow modifications.
  2. On your PC, go back to the folder that you downloaded SuperSU to and right click it. Click Copy from the context menu.
  3. Find your device in the Windows Explorer window’s left pain and click on it. Double click to open the internal storage.
  4. Copy the ZIP file to your device’s internal storage.
  5. Back on the device, tap the Install button and select SuperSU from the screen that displays.
  6. Swipe to install.
  7. Once that installs, tap the reboot button

Your device will completely wipe and reboot itself. You’ll need to go through the full setup process again. When all is done, tap the app tray folder icon to show all the apps that are on your device.
Find the SuperSU icon and tap on it. If you don’t get any errors, you’re all set.

Conclusion
There’s a lot here; and I honestly went into more detail and actual how-to than I had originally planned. However, better safe than sorry.

Again, watch the video. Its short, very informative and it’s VERY easy to follow.

If you’re HTC 10 was carrier unlocked (like mine was, directly from HTC) unlocking the bootloader and rooting the device won’t necessarily void your warranty. However, for devices locked to any specific carrier, like either Verizon Wireless or to AT&T, then you may void your warranty if you do this.

Are you an Android fan? Do you have an HTC 10; and if so, did you root it? Why don’t you join me in the discussion area and let me know your thoughts on the process and of your results.

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