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[TUT] Flashing your first A500 custom ROM

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drkalo

Senior Member
Jul 13, 2009
580
287
48
Sofia
Well, flashing a custom ROM on our beloved Iconias became quite easy now thanks to developers on xda. Most of you are quite familiar with the procedure but there are still people that ask basic things all over the ROM developement threads. This is just a beginner's guide, an attempt to collect all the procedures and tools in one thread. Nothing of this is my work and I would like to say THANK YOU to sc2k, thor2002ro, Euclid's Brother, Chainfire, monki-magic, drellisdee, ezterry, Skrilax_CZ, gersma and all A500 developers for making this possible.

You will need the following: external SD card, root rights, unlocked bootloader (if you're on stock ICS), custom recovery and a custom ROM of your choice.

Well lets start by placing an SD card in the SD card expansion slot. Its file system should be FAT32!
*This is optional: To be sure it is recognized later in CWM, format it first with SD Formatter - a tool that can be downloaded from here. Use your home computer / notebook with a card reader for this procedure. Alternatively you can do this using an ANDROID phone.


1.ROOT

Root for Honeycomb 3.0.1 by monki-magic
original thread by Slowie911 here

1. Make sure usb debugging is turned on and unknown sources is selected in Applications settings.
2. Have a micro sd card inserted and turn the tablet on portrait mode and lock it with the switch to fix it in portrait.
3. Download and execute the attached apk. (i had to download from my comp and transfer to the tablet for it to work).
4. Once the apk is installed run the root procedure within the app which was installed
5. Wait and you will receive full root access.

Download Gingerbreak 1.20

Root for Honeycomb 3.1 by sc2k thread here
1. Goto Settings->Applications and enable "Unkown sources"
2. Download the attached APK file
3. Copy the file to your Iconia
4. Install the APK & start the tool
5. Click "root"
6. Enjoy :)

/IconiaRoot should work on both 3.0.x and 3.1/

Download Iconiaroot 1.3

Root for Honeycomb 3.2.x OTA
Unfortunately there's no dedicated rooting app yet developed for HC3.2. It also comes with a new bootloader. In order to get root you need to revert to an older version of Honeycomb first where Iconiaroot works. How to do that is explained in details in this thread
UPDATE: if you're on OTA HC 3.2.x then you can just update to ICS and use the method for rooting ICS - links posted below

Root for ICS 4.x.x OTA
Stock ICS Leak One-Click Root Tool by blackthund3r
or
Full root for A500 ICS 4.0.3 - Simple method, posted by ZeroNull

2. Bootloader
Since there are many new ICS custom ROMs and custom recoveries, please read in their dedicated threads if they require ICS bootloader. Some of the ROMs can recognize the version of your bootloader and load the proper boot.img during boot. In general - if you're on Honeycomb - you have HC bootloader. If you've updated OTA to ICS, then you have stock ICS bootloader, that is unusable for flashing custom ROMs and therefore you need the unlocked bootloader. A guide on how to install it read here - thanks civato. This thread links to a nice little piece of software (option 1) by gersma that can automatically do all the job for you - install ICS unlocked bootloader and custom recovery. Read and download here - AfterOTA by gersma


3.Custom recovery

original thread with clockworkmod recovery by thor2002ro here

1. Open Market app with your tablet and search for Acer Recovery Installer.
Acer recovery installer
2. Install it and then open it. It has ClockworkMod Recovery by thor2002ro rev1.3.4 built-in.
3. Select "ClockworkMod Recovery rev.1.3.4 by thor2002ro". Tap on install Recovery Image. A popup offering to backup current recovery image will appear. Surely, buckup! Thus you can restore your original recovery image in case of need. Then CWM will be installed. Once it is installed you can remove Acer Recovery Installer tool from your system if you want.

thor2002ro updated CWM to 1.7.3. You can download the zip from tegraowners.com. Later versions of his recovery does not meet GPL because of the "mini" kernel of his - sources not being released. It supports flashing both from internal memory and the external SD card. :) In order to update your CWM to this latest version, place the downloaded ZIP on your external sd card and update from your CWM by choosing install zip from sd card. Alternatively you can extract the recovery.img from the zip, place it on your external sd card and install it through Acer Recovery Installer by choosing Custom or Stock recovery.img from micro sdcard.

GPL compliant recoveries
RA Revamped for Iconia
TeamWin Recovery Project (twrp) - needs ICS bootloader
A500 Public Recovery
Since the creation of AfterOTA by gersma, you can use his software to install both the bootloader and CWM before flashing the ROM. Get it HERE


4. Flashing custom ROM
Download the ROM of your choice which should be a zip file. Place the zip on your EXTERNAL SD card. Power off your device. Now hold volume down and power buttons together until you see text appearing on the top left corner of the screen - you can release both buttons now. Wait until CWM loads. Volume keys (Up and Down) are used to navigate the CWM menu. Power button is uded as "Enter" i.e. to proceed with your selection. Before going on to install your ROM do a full backup of your system first. Navigate to "backup and restore" and then select Full Backup. Wait untill the operation completes.

Now do the following:
Wipe menu:
- wipe data/factory reset -> navigate to "Yes - delete all user data"
this should format you data partition and cache partition (dalvik cache is gone as well)
Mounts and storage menu
- Format System
this should format your system partition

The above commands are presented in thor's CWM. There are slightly different menus and sub-menus in the other custom recoveries but if you dig a little you'll find that they do the same things and you'll get the idea of what you're doing.

Now you're ready to install your ROM. Get back to the main CWM menu and select
- Install zip from sdcard -> choose zip from sdcard.
Navigate to your zip on the SD card and install it - choose "Yes" again to install. Wait untill installation is complete, return to the main CWM menu and choose "reboot system now".
You're done, enjoy your first custom ROM. Take time for its initial configuration.

5. Flashing custom KERNEL

Flashing custom kernel is as same as custom ROM. You place the zip (Kernels come in zip files as well) on your external SD card and:
- Install zip from sdcard -> choose zip from sdcard.
It is recommended before flashing a new kernel to wipe cache partition and dalvik cache. And of course first you flash the ROM and then the desired Kernel :)



6. UNBRICKING by flashing a stock ROM

thanks to vache we have full packages shared in his topic

vache said:
Once the desired file downloaded, you have to use Acer Update Decryter by thor2002ro to decrypt them.
After decrypting the file, you have to extract the update.zip from it, put it on an external SDCard (does not work on internal memory) and boot your tablet with Vol- & Power. The update will launch automatically.



p.s. Feel free to add stuff to this tutorial - video, pistures or anything you find useful or to correct me if I've made a mistake.
 
Last edited:

kylec

Senior Member
Aug 5, 2010
965
185
Brisbane
This is fantastic. Thank you. I have had my iconia for a month now and been looking at flashing a custom rom but kept backing out. Just a couple of questions for clarification:
(1). Does wiping data erase the internal sd?
(2). If by some stroke of bad luck a flash is unsuccessful and a boot loop or similar occurs, am I right in my understanding that you can just go straight back into recovery and re-flash?
(3). What are the chances of bricking the tablet?

Sorry for noon questions, please just wanna certain because my gf bought me this tablet under the condition I don't do anything risky like on my x10 that I flash almost daily haha

Thanks for replies

Sent from my A500 using XDA Premium App
 
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drkalo

Senior Member
Jul 13, 2009
580
287
48
Sofia
This is fantastic. Thank you. I have had my iconia for a month now and been looking at flashing a custom rom but kept backing out. Just a couple of questions for clarification:
(1). Does wiping data erase the internal sd?
(2). If by some stroke of bad luck a flash is unsuccessful and a boot loop or similar occurs, am I right in my understanding that you can just go straight back into recovery and re-flash?
(3). What are the chances of bricking the tablet?

Sorry for noon questions, please just wanna certain because my gf bought me this tablet under the condition I don't do anything risky like on my x10 that I flash almost daily haha

Thanks for replies



Sent from my A500 using XDA Premium App

1. No, it doesn't.
2. Yes. You can do that. There's another option in mounts and storage -> format system - that will format even your system partition and leave your device bare with no ROM files on it. That would be a really clean install I guess:)
EDIT: I just saw that system is formatted during ROM installation. So no need to do that :)
3. Always read first what option you've selected and be sure you understand what it does. If you have CWM successfully installed, you have a powerfull tool to restore reflash, wipe, format etc. I've flashed my HD2 hundreds of times and now my Iconia is on the run :) Never ever had a boot failiure.
 
Last edited:

kylec

Senior Member
Aug 5, 2010
965
185
Brisbane
1. No, it doesn't.
2. Yes. You can do that. There's another option in mounts and storage -> format system - that will format even your system partition and leave your device bare with no ROM files on it. That would be a really clean install I guess:)
3. Always read first what option you've selected and be sure you understand what it does. If you have CWM successfully installed, you have a powerfull tool to restore reflash, wipe, format etc. I've flashed my HD2 hundreds of times and now my Iconia is on the run :) Never ever had a boot failiure.

Thank you very much. :) I will click thanks when I'm on my computer :-D

Sent from my A500 using XDA Premium App
 

strider_mt2k

Senior Member
Apr 13, 2011
53
6
Southern New Jersey
VERY good information here. Thank you very much for taking the time.

I've flashed ROMS on my last two "chinatabs" but haven't gotten into it with my A500 yet. (To be frank, I'm still thrilled with the prospect of OTA updates from a manufacturer after my last experiences.)

It looks like the process is very similar to my Rena3 tablet.
 

karlkarloff

Senior Member
Jan 2, 2011
287
56
Boone, North Carolina
VERY good information here. Thank you very much for taking the time.

I've flashed ROMS on my last two "chinatabs" but haven't gotten into it with my A500 yet. (To be frank, I'm still thrilled with the prospect of OTA updates from a manufacturer after my last experiences.)

It looks like the process is very similar to my Rena3 tablet.

Thank you, that lays it out all nice and precise for us all. Like strider_mt2k, I have been holdng off on the custom ROMs, because my first tablet was a Gtab, and while it became a pretty awesome tablet, it had to be flashed with a custom ROM to be really usable. The OTA thing was holding me back. But I think that I may try to flash the thing this weekend if I get the chance.
 

nitodu

Member
Dec 18, 2010
11
2
nice tutorial dude! thanks!!
could you please make another tutorial to return back to stock?
specially to return back to stock te kernel.

thanks!!!
 

drkalo

Senior Member
Jul 13, 2009
580
287
48
Sofia
As mentioned, best case is if you've backed up your device before flashing any ROM or Kernel. Thus you can restore to your country specific version.

Otherwise its pretty simple - its just like flashing any other ROM following the steps described.
Download the stock one that dr1337 shared from here:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1154492

or choose the right full package - shared by vache:

decript it with Acer update decripter by thor2002ro

Of course they come with stock kernel :D
 
Last edited:

drkalo

Senior Member
Jul 13, 2009
580
287
48
Sofia
if i put a custom rom on the device could i still use the build in update program of acer?

Unfortunately I can not tell you for sure. I haven't tried all of the custom ROMs but in most cases - no you won't be able. I've tried Tabooney, Honeyvillain, Virtuous Picasso, Virtuous Galaxy. ROM developers usually update their ROMs to the latest base available. I think it depends on many things - base, kernel, stock apps removed etc.

Maybe someone who have succeeded with custom ROM updating would share his experience.
 

synapses11

Member
Jan 19, 2011
45
4
Boston
Can anyone tell me if there is a version of ROM manager that supports the version of CWM that there is for the Iconia. I would love to be able to simplify my ability to backup my ROM's before flashing.
 

drkalo

Senior Member
Jul 13, 2009
580
287
48
Sofia
Can anyone tell me if there is a version of ROM manager that supports the version of CWM that there is for the Iconia. I would love to be able to simplify my ability to backup my ROM's before flashing.

You can install a clockworkmod for Iconia no matter of the version of ROM manager. But it is much much easier to use Acer Recovery Installer. I recommend you using it instead of playing with recovery img files. It is a one time procedure after all :)


Anyway - here's what you need to do if you don't want to use Acer recovery installer, or you don't want to use ADB:
http://www.addictivetips.com/mobile/how-to-install-clockworkmod-recovery-3-using-rom-manager/

instead of CWM 3.x you will need to get CWM from thor2002ro In this guide you substitute the recovery that ROM Manager is about to flash with thor's CWM. I haven't tried this method myself but it should work.

With Acer Recovery Installer you can flash custom recovery as well. As long as you have it in IMG format you can be flashed from within the app - "install custom or stock recovery image from sd card".
 

eggz2004

Senior Member
Nov 4, 2005
118
16
Porto
Great Tutorial!!!
Just a couple of doubts:

First question: Backup files.


3. Flashing custom ROM
"...Before going on to install your ROM do a full backup of your system first. Navigate to "backup and restore" and then select Full Backup. Wait untill the operation completes. "

Where do the backup files go in the system? On internal or external SD card? Is it an *.img file extension?
Should i move it to my computer to keep it save, or just leave it where ever they are?


Second question: Kernel.

4. Flashing custom KERNEL

"Flashing custom kernel is as same as custom ROM. You place the zip (Kernels come in zip files as well) on your external SD card and:
- Install zip from sdcard -> choose zip from sdcard.
It is recommended before flashing a new kernel to wipe cache partition and dalvik cache. And of course first you flash the ROM and then the desired Kernel"

I am on Stock 3.1 ROM with original Kernel, if i want to try Virtuos Picasso, do i have to flash a new Kernel? And if yes, shouldn't i do it before flashing the ROM? Or just flash the ROM and then the Kernel? What happens if i just flash the Rom and use the stock kernel?

Thank you..
 

drkalo

Senior Member
Jul 13, 2009
580
287
48
Sofia
Your backup goes to your external SD card in a folder named clockworkmod\backup\2011-XX-XX.HH.MM.SS
As you can guess the name of the backup corresponds to the time it is created. This backup can be used to restore your system through CWM in case of need.

CWM does not backup /data/media folder. Additionally: you should also delete .android_secure.img from your backup set or a full restore will fail before it restores flexrom.
The last is an issue described by Euclid's brother:
http://forum.xda-developers.com/showpost.php?p=16467191&postcount=3

I am on Stock 3.1 ROM with original Kernel, if i want to try Virtuos Picasso, do i have to flash a new Kernel?

No, of course! Your custom ROM (Virtuous Picasso in your example) and any ROM comes with its Kernel. Its up to you to decide wheather to change it or not after that by flashing another Kernel. Follow every Kernel developer's notes for ROM compatibility. So, that answers the last part of your question - you cannot flash Virtuous Picasso and still think you're on stock kernel:)
 

eggz2004

Senior Member
Nov 4, 2005
118
16
Porto
No, of course! Your custom ROM (Virtuous Picasso in your example) and any ROM comes with its Kernel. Its up to you to decide wheather to change it or not after that by flashing another Kernel. Follow every Kernel developer's notes for ROM compatibility. So, that answers the last part of your question - you cannot flash Virtuous Picasso and still think you're on stock kernel:)

Oh, i see...i thought that the flashing ROM procedure of a custom ROM, would just flash the ROM and not the Kernel...so in this case i just have to choose the ROM that i want to flash and do not have to pay attention about the Kernel compatibility...unless i flash a Kernel only. Right?

Thank you very much!!
 
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  • 63
    Well, flashing a custom ROM on our beloved Iconias became quite easy now thanks to developers on xda. Most of you are quite familiar with the procedure but there are still people that ask basic things all over the ROM developement threads. This is just a beginner's guide, an attempt to collect all the procedures and tools in one thread. Nothing of this is my work and I would like to say THANK YOU to sc2k, thor2002ro, Euclid's Brother, Chainfire, monki-magic, drellisdee, ezterry, Skrilax_CZ, gersma and all A500 developers for making this possible.

    You will need the following: external SD card, root rights, unlocked bootloader (if you're on stock ICS), custom recovery and a custom ROM of your choice.

    Well lets start by placing an SD card in the SD card expansion slot. Its file system should be FAT32!
    *This is optional: To be sure it is recognized later in CWM, format it first with SD Formatter - a tool that can be downloaded from here. Use your home computer / notebook with a card reader for this procedure. Alternatively you can do this using an ANDROID phone.


    1.ROOT

    Root for Honeycomb 3.0.1 by monki-magic
    original thread by Slowie911 here

    1. Make sure usb debugging is turned on and unknown sources is selected in Applications settings.
    2. Have a micro sd card inserted and turn the tablet on portrait mode and lock it with the switch to fix it in portrait.
    3. Download and execute the attached apk. (i had to download from my comp and transfer to the tablet for it to work).
    4. Once the apk is installed run the root procedure within the app which was installed
    5. Wait and you will receive full root access.

    Download Gingerbreak 1.20

    Root for Honeycomb 3.1 by sc2k thread here
    1. Goto Settings->Applications and enable "Unkown sources"
    2. Download the attached APK file
    3. Copy the file to your Iconia
    4. Install the APK & start the tool
    5. Click "root"
    6. Enjoy :)

    /IconiaRoot should work on both 3.0.x and 3.1/

    Download Iconiaroot 1.3

    Root for Honeycomb 3.2.x OTA
    Unfortunately there's no dedicated rooting app yet developed for HC3.2. It also comes with a new bootloader. In order to get root you need to revert to an older version of Honeycomb first where Iconiaroot works. How to do that is explained in details in this thread
    UPDATE: if you're on OTA HC 3.2.x then you can just update to ICS and use the method for rooting ICS - links posted below

    Root for ICS 4.x.x OTA
    Stock ICS Leak One-Click Root Tool by blackthund3r
    or
    Full root for A500 ICS 4.0.3 - Simple method, posted by ZeroNull

    2. Bootloader
    Since there are many new ICS custom ROMs and custom recoveries, please read in their dedicated threads if they require ICS bootloader. Some of the ROMs can recognize the version of your bootloader and load the proper boot.img during boot. In general - if you're on Honeycomb - you have HC bootloader. If you've updated OTA to ICS, then you have stock ICS bootloader, that is unusable for flashing custom ROMs and therefore you need the unlocked bootloader. A guide on how to install it read here - thanks civato. This thread links to a nice little piece of software (option 1) by gersma that can automatically do all the job for you - install ICS unlocked bootloader and custom recovery. Read and download here - AfterOTA by gersma


    3.Custom recovery

    original thread with clockworkmod recovery by thor2002ro here

    1. Open Market app with your tablet and search for Acer Recovery Installer.
    Acer recovery installer
    2. Install it and then open it. It has ClockworkMod Recovery by thor2002ro rev1.3.4 built-in.
    3. Select "ClockworkMod Recovery rev.1.3.4 by thor2002ro". Tap on install Recovery Image. A popup offering to backup current recovery image will appear. Surely, buckup! Thus you can restore your original recovery image in case of need. Then CWM will be installed. Once it is installed you can remove Acer Recovery Installer tool from your system if you want.

    thor2002ro updated CWM to 1.7.3. You can download the zip from tegraowners.com. Later versions of his recovery does not meet GPL because of the "mini" kernel of his - sources not being released. It supports flashing both from internal memory and the external SD card. :) In order to update your CWM to this latest version, place the downloaded ZIP on your external sd card and update from your CWM by choosing install zip from sd card. Alternatively you can extract the recovery.img from the zip, place it on your external sd card and install it through Acer Recovery Installer by choosing Custom or Stock recovery.img from micro sdcard.

    GPL compliant recoveries
    RA Revamped for Iconia
    TeamWin Recovery Project (twrp) - needs ICS bootloader
    A500 Public Recovery
    Since the creation of AfterOTA by gersma, you can use his software to install both the bootloader and CWM before flashing the ROM. Get it HERE


    4. Flashing custom ROM
    Download the ROM of your choice which should be a zip file. Place the zip on your EXTERNAL SD card. Power off your device. Now hold volume down and power buttons together until you see text appearing on the top left corner of the screen - you can release both buttons now. Wait until CWM loads. Volume keys (Up and Down) are used to navigate the CWM menu. Power button is uded as "Enter" i.e. to proceed with your selection. Before going on to install your ROM do a full backup of your system first. Navigate to "backup and restore" and then select Full Backup. Wait untill the operation completes.

    Now do the following:
    Wipe menu:
    - wipe data/factory reset -> navigate to "Yes - delete all user data"
    this should format you data partition and cache partition (dalvik cache is gone as well)
    Mounts and storage menu
    - Format System
    this should format your system partition

    The above commands are presented in thor's CWM. There are slightly different menus and sub-menus in the other custom recoveries but if you dig a little you'll find that they do the same things and you'll get the idea of what you're doing.

    Now you're ready to install your ROM. Get back to the main CWM menu and select
    - Install zip from sdcard -> choose zip from sdcard.
    Navigate to your zip on the SD card and install it - choose "Yes" again to install. Wait untill installation is complete, return to the main CWM menu and choose "reboot system now".
    You're done, enjoy your first custom ROM. Take time for its initial configuration.

    5. Flashing custom KERNEL

    Flashing custom kernel is as same as custom ROM. You place the zip (Kernels come in zip files as well) on your external SD card and:
    - Install zip from sdcard -> choose zip from sdcard.
    It is recommended before flashing a new kernel to wipe cache partition and dalvik cache. And of course first you flash the ROM and then the desired Kernel :)



    6. UNBRICKING by flashing a stock ROM

    thanks to vache we have full packages shared in his topic

    vache said:
    Once the desired file downloaded, you have to use Acer Update Decryter by thor2002ro to decrypt them.
    After decrypting the file, you have to extract the update.zip from it, put it on an external SDCard (does not work on internal memory) and boot your tablet with Vol- & Power. The update will launch automatically.



    p.s. Feel free to add stuff to this tutorial - video, pistures or anything you find useful or to correct me if I've made a mistake.
    5
    This is fantastic. Thank you. I have had my iconia for a month now and been looking at flashing a custom rom but kept backing out. Just a couple of questions for clarification:
    (1). Does wiping data erase the internal sd?
    (2). If by some stroke of bad luck a flash is unsuccessful and a boot loop or similar occurs, am I right in my understanding that you can just go straight back into recovery and re-flash?
    (3). What are the chances of bricking the tablet?

    Sorry for noon questions, please just wanna certain because my gf bought me this tablet under the condition I don't do anything risky like on my x10 that I flash almost daily haha

    Thanks for replies



    Sent from my A500 using XDA Premium App

    1. No, it doesn't.
    2. Yes. You can do that. There's another option in mounts and storage -> format system - that will format even your system partition and leave your device bare with no ROM files on it. That would be a really clean install I guess:)
    EDIT: I just saw that system is formatted during ROM installation. So no need to do that :)
    3. Always read first what option you've selected and be sure you understand what it does. If you have CWM successfully installed, you have a powerfull tool to restore reflash, wipe, format etc. I've flashed my HD2 hundreds of times and now my Iconia is on the run :) Never ever had a boot failiure.
    1
    This is fantastic. Thank you. I have had my iconia for a month now and been looking at flashing a custom rom but kept backing out. Just a couple of questions for clarification:
    (1). Does wiping data erase the internal sd?
    (2). If by some stroke of bad luck a flash is unsuccessful and a boot loop or similar occurs, am I right in my understanding that you can just go straight back into recovery and re-flash?
    (3). What are the chances of bricking the tablet?

    Sorry for noon questions, please just wanna certain because my gf bought me this tablet under the condition I don't do anything risky like on my x10 that I flash almost daily haha

    Thanks for replies

    Sent from my A500 using XDA Premium App
    1
    That is correct :D
    1
    hi there when i try to flash a rom it cannot find the zip on my sd card?? Do i need to rename my rom zip to update.zip in order for this to work or is the original file name ok to use? thanks
    In CWM you are able to browse all your files. With thor's latest recovery you are even able to flash from the internal memory. Is your external SD card recognized from CWM? Are you using an external sD card?