Rooting the HTC Wildfire

Posted by Andy Gavin on Mon, 2012-12-24 13:14

The HTC wildfire isn't known for it's memory capacity, and recently this cheap little phone has been complaining that it's short on memory. So I decided to delve into android and replace the firmware with something a little newer and slimmer.

There's a lot of conflicting advice out there about what to do and when so this is what I did:

  1. Changed and unlocked the boot-loader
  2. Wrote a recovery image to the phone for manipulating roms
  3. Backed-up original firmware, just in case
  4. Flashed new ROM based on Ice-cream sandwich
  5. Partitioned sdcard for swap space and additional room for applications

Rooting is a natural byproduct of upgrading the rom. Although I don't guarantee this process will work for me here is the details (proceed with this at your own risk):

Change and unlocked the bootloader
The bootloader that comes preinstalled does not allow other roms to be loaded: it cannot be unlocked. So first I needed to install a bootloader that could be unlocked. HTC since there has been a community interested custom roms has made it easier to do this by providing instructions and software. Although the software is available elsewhere I used their bootloader. The instructions start here.

At home I don't tend to use windows but I have an old windows XP laptop that I used. The Rom Upgrade Utility (RUU), is only available for windows. Despite upgrading drivers with those provided by HTC the utility was unable to flash the bootloader. Luckily the rom is unpacked while installer is running as rom.zip (C:\Users\USERNAME\AppData\Local\Temp\*\*\rom.zip). This can be placed on the root of the SDCard as PC49IMG.zip.

Booting to the bootloader will cause ask you whether you want to install this bootloader. To do this power up the phone holding the power and volume-down buttons until be bootloader appears. Selecting yes when asked whether to install the bootloader or not. The boot-loader will then be installed. Reboot the the bootloader again and at the top of the page it should read "Locked (OOW)" meaning the bootloader is still locked and out of warrantee. Select fastboot in the menu and keep the phone connected to your machine.

The HTC site is able to give the key to unlock the bootloader. Using the identifier information from:

fastboot oem get_identifier_token

Send this to HTC on the form in their instructions and they send back the unlock key.

You can issue the unlock instruction with this key:

fastboot flash unlocktoken Unlock_code.bin

The boot-loader should now be unlocked.

Wrote a recovery image to the phone for manipulating roms

There are different recovery images but quite a common image is the clockworkmod recovery image. I used recovery-clockwork-5.0.2.0-buzz.img. Boot to the bootloader and select fastboot then install the recovery image using:

fastboot flash recovery recovery-clockwork-5.0.2.0-buzz.img

Selecting "Recovery" from the bootloader will boot to the clockworkmod menu which allows roms to be flashed and the sdcard to be partitioned.

Backed-up original firmware, just in case

In clockworkmod select backup and restore, then select backup. This will create a backup of the firmware to the sdcard in the clockworkmod folder. Copy this off the sdcard for safekeeping.

Flashed new ROM based on Ice-cream sandwich

Now the fun part. I used a rom from this thread, which needs to be placed onto the sdcard.

Because of copyright google apps are not packaged with roms. These can be installed from zips using clockworkmod. I used gapps-ics-20120429-signed.zip. Place this on the sdcard too.

Now wipe the cache partition and wipe data/factory reset in clockwork mod. Then use the install function to install the rom zip and optionally gapps. Then reboot, it will take some time for ICS to start so be patient.

Partitioned sdcard for swap space and additional room for applications

Once the O/S is working, more space can be provided by using the sdcard. On the advanced menu of clockworkmod, I created an ext partition and a swap partition. This creates an ext4 linux partition on the sdcard.

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