Rooting a Vodacom HTC Magic and upgrading the firmware in South Africa to get Android Market and more.

If you’re in South Africa and you own an HTC Magic Android phone you’ll soon realise that it’s missing Android Market, which to be honest, is pretty much what makes Android so damn amazing in the first place. In its place is the Leaf Open Market. Leaf are the South African HTC importers. Open Market is about as awesome as getting stabbed in the eye with a pencil, repeatedly. The application works okay, but the selection of applications is incredibly dismal.

Update 30/06/09: There are rumblings that Leaf is going to “release” Market in “two weeks”. Supposedly they’re going to be sending out instructions on how to ROM your phone or allowing you to take it into a vodacom store and getting it ROM’d there (most likely they’ll need to send it away). I have no idea how true these claims are. Maybe someone wants to phone Leaf and ask them?

Update 23/07/09: A really good resource for anyone looking to hack their Magic is the XDA-Developers Forum. Some kind souls have also recently added a Wiki specifically put together for hacking the Magic (Sapphire) which every one of you should read from start to finish.

Anyway, the primary reason I love Android is because it’s hackable. Commence hacking. Warning: Yes, this probably will void your warranty. Yes, it’s possible that the real Android Market will eventually be released in SA, but I’m not holding my breath.

Basically what we’re doing here is updating the phone’s firmware to the version HTC originally intended the Magic to ship with… There are stacks of other firmwares (called ROM’s in the ‘community’) floating around, I’m just pointing to one that definitely works. Using the wrong ROM can put your phone in a state where it refuses to boot… Never fear, see below ‘Recovering from a bricked Magic‘.

General Steps

I’m going to explain the general steps you go through first… This will help you understand what it is you’re about to do so that you aren’t just blindly following instructions.

  1. We get the Android SDK and Fastboot applications installed on our computer
  2. We copy the ROM we want to install onto the SD Card and rename it ‘update.zip’
  3. We boot the phone into FASTBOOT mode.
  4. Using the FASTBOOT program we temporarily upload and ‘install’ the daldroid-recovery.img ROM over USB. (This is a special boot loader app that lets us do cool stuff like made Nandroid backups and install that update.zip ROM from the SD Card.)
  5. The phone boots into the daldroid-recovery mode.
  6. We backup our original ROM to the SD Card using Nandoid, clear some settings and then install the new ROM.
  7. Congratulations, you have a rooted, real android phone ;)

Step by Step Instructions

Okay, now that you know the basic steps, here are the details.

  1. Enable USB debugging on the device in Settings->Applications->Development->”USB Debugging”
  2. Ensure you have the Android SDK downloaded, and the included USB driver installed correctly on your desktop.
  3. Download Fastboot. Since I use linux I just copied the ‘fastboot’ binary to the Android SDK’s tools directory and made it executable.
  4. Open up a terminal/dos prompt and “cd” to the tools directory in your Android SDK folder.
  5. Plug in your USB Cable.
  6. Run the following command:
    adb devices

    Linux users will need to run:

    sudo ./adb devices
  7. You should see your Android phone’s serial in the list. If you get an empty list, you need to sort out your USB driver.
  8. Download Daldroid’s Rooted (adb shell) Original HTC ROM for Magic and Daldroid’s Recovery Image
  9. Unzip the daldroid-recovery.zip file and put it in the Android SDK’s tools directory.
  10. Connect the phone with the USB cable and from the notifications bar, mount the SD card. Rename daldroid-htcmagic1-signed.zip to update.zip and copy it to the phone’s SD card.
  11. On your device, enter the bootloader FASTBOOT mode by turning off the phone and then, while it is off, pressing the volume down button while pressing the power button.
  12. You should get a screen with some androids on skateboards at the bottom…Give it a second to run whatever tests it runs.
  13. Pressing the back button will get you into FASTBOOT MODE and you should see the screen change to say ‘FASTBOOT USB’
  14. Type the following commands on your computer (not on the device):
    fastboot boot daldroid-recovery.img

    Again, Linux users will need to run:

    sudo ./fastboot boot daldroid-recovery.img
  15. This will upload (over usb) a mini recovery image and reboot your phone… It’ll take a few seconds and you’ll be prompted with the recovery interface.
  16. Select ‘Nandroid Backup 2.1′ from the menu. This will write a backup of your existing system to the SD card… useful in case something goes wrong.
  17. Select ‘Wipe Data/factory reset’. This erases settings etc that might not be compatible with the new firmware
  18. Select ‘Apply sdcard:update.zip’. This essentially installs the system image from the update.zip file.
  19. Select ‘reboot system now’.
  20. Wait a long time for the first initialization. Congratulations, you have a real, rooted, Android phone with Android Market and thousands of quality apps to install.

The really nice thing about the Daldroid image is that it comes with all the APN settings etc required for Vodacom so your HSDPA will work straight away.

Recovering from a ‘Bricked’ Magic

I promised earlier I would tell you how to recover from a ‘Bricked’ Android phone… I’ve put ‘bricked’ in quotes because a lot of people seem to be thinking they’ve bricked their phones when in reality it’s quite easy to recover.

  1. Check if you can get to into Fastboot Mode:
    1. Remove the battery.
    2. Wait 10 seconds (or more)
    3. While pressing the volume down button, pop the battery back in.
    4. If it doesn’t turn on by itself, keep pressing the volume down button and press the power button.
    5. You should get the Fastboot menu.
    6. If you don’t get into Fastboot mode, try a few more times and then panic. I don’t know how to help you. Try Google.
  2. You now need to copy the right update.zip (see step 8 above) onto your SD Card. There are two ways:
    1. Get a usb card reader or use another cell phone that will allow you to mount the SD Card over USB and just copy it.
    2. or, the slightly fancier way, while your phone is in Fastboot mode run the following command on your computer (first put the new update.zip in your Android SDK tools directory):
      adb push update.zip /sdcard/update.zip

      Again, Linux users will need to run:

      sudo ./adb push update.zip /sdcard/update.zip

      This uploads the file directly onto the SD Card via USB. It takes a minute or two so do be patient.

  3. Now you just need to follow steps 11 though 20 from the instructions above and you should be golden.

Updated (21 June 2009) – Putting the original Vodacom ROM back

If for some or other reason you want to go back to the old version of the Vodacom ROM, you can do so quite easily.

Nandroid writes a selection of files to the SD Card:

2.5M  boot.img
339K  cache.img
60M   data.img
256K  misc.img
265    nandroid.md5
5.0M  recovery.img
78M   system.img

You should really make a copy of them on your local machine just in case. Once you’ve got those files on your local machine you can restore your phone using fastboot like so:

  1. Copy the nandroid files (*.img) from your backup into your SDK Tools Directory.
  2. Boot your phone into Fastboot mode (Steps 11, 12, 13) from the Step by Step guide above.
  3. Run the following commands from your computer:
    fastboot erase system -w
    fastboot erase boot
    fastboot flash system system.img
    fastboot flash userdata data.img
    fastboot flash boot boot.img
    fastboot reboot
  4. Congratulations, you now have your old Vodacom phone back. :/

Hope this helps, feel free to ask questions.

89 thoughts on “Rooting a Vodacom HTC Magic and upgrading the firmware in South Africa to get Android Market and more.

  1. Hi Jonathan,

    Thanks for this nice article! – got it sorted quicly!

    Some comments:

    1: the line: ‘Since I use linux I just copied the ‘fastboot’ binary to the Android SDK’s tools’ were a bit confusing, however I eventually found the kubuntu bin on some wiki (thought it must be either part of And SDK or Linux!)

    2: As a linux user I don’t want root to ly just open for anyone to access. (via su) I would suggest installing SuperUser (not on the market enymore – avail as a zip at this stage)

    3: OpenMakarket is also not available on the market anymore.

    4. The default OpenMarket install does not allow for S.A. Credit Card, but you can use Google-Checkout with ease (There is some mentioning about it above)

    5. One might want to secure the SuperUser and Openmarket APK’s like you have the others on megaupload

    Thanks Again!
    Tobie

  2. Hi arbitraryuser please help.. “copied your instructions to the tea but when I enter the command “fastboot boot daldroid-recovery.img” in the cmd prompt I do not go to the next part of the process ? Please help wasted 2 nights trying to work it out .Thanks”

  3. Nags

    I don’t know with vista, but with XP you click “Start”–> “Run” in the dialog type “cmd” that will be your “command prompt”. ( or its also located at Start –> All Programs –> Accessories –> command prompt.)
    if you cant find it in vista ask google.
    from there you go to your tools directory (eg. c:android-sdk-windows-1.5_r2tools or wherever your sdk directory is located)

  4. @eric,@petri, I’ve played with slideme.org a few times but it doesn’t have anything close to the number of apps in the real Market. However, yes, if people don’t want to void warranties etc, slideme.org’s market is an option.

    @Thomas, Thanks for the link, a number of people have asked me for a Dream howto. I don’t know about ‘cellular tweaks’… sounds like a scare-tactic to me. I haven’t gone back to the original ROMs but I am planning on testing it out this weekend since I’m going to update my existing Hero ROM to one of the more recent ones. (ie. Since I’m trashing my data I can experiment with restoring the Vodacom image.)

  5. @garnett What *is* happening when you run that command? What OS are you running on?

    @Tobie, You had me confused, yes, Market Enabler isn’t available on Market any more and I’m sure you can imagine why. If you Google for it it’s pretty easy to find on, of all places, Google Code.

  6. Hi, arbitraryuser;
    It is very great for your sharing, and i would like to ask you something about the HTC magic. I have just bought it and in the phone has no Android Market or any google application. And i cann’t find the system update in About Phone setting too. Could you please tell me how to make it to a full application. Note : that i am using Windows XP SP2.

  7. Just some comments when doing this

    If windows discovers a new device htc bootloader
    let it search for the drivers/updates or it will hang after step 14

    if you pass this and you get an error with your sd card mounting so it gives an error when trying to ran the update.zip, reformat your sd card to fat32, try renaming the update.zip to update without the .zip

    these are the problems I ran into

  8. Thanks again Arb, I have done this few times now and no issues.

    Can you post any feedback on the other ROMS you have tried? i took a look at the XDA site, but i would like some insight.

    another interesting thing, i got the market enabler to work and i saw all the paid apps in GBP and USD, what was strange is that when i tried to log onto any google sites (say picasa) the language was in italian!

    think its realted to the market enabler and the developer being Italian?

    weird

  9. @garnett. Which Hero ROM did you use? I’ve read that the Fatal1ty ROM for Rogers (PVT32A) requires you to upgrade the SPL to 2005. I’m not too keen on changing the SPL as I believe its the easiest way to brick the phone. Can anyone confirm that this Hero ROM works with the stock Vodacom SPL

  10. Hello i have a question where to download fastboot?

    3.) Download Fastboot. Since I use linux I just copied the ‘fastboot’ binary to the Android SDK’s tools directory and made it executable.
    ??

  11. Thx ~ it work 100% for me.
    nice ~ now i can download all the application i want,
    it is really useless without the market LOL

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  14. Just updated using the official Leaf update package. It changes the SPL to the dreaded perfect SPL. This makes future hacking a bit trickier I believe. Anyone care to comment…

  15. Hi there,

    I got onto your instructions via few web searches after buying a HTC Magic from ebay and then realising I needed the Market App preinstalled (everyone must do that, how are you to know it is proprietary software?).

    Anyway, instructions were clear and all worked really well. The only two things I’d add for anyone out there not IT savvy, on step 9 the dandroid-recovery.zip actually comes as a .img file – just copy this into the tools directory.

    Second, at step 14 I needed to navigate to the drivers that were installed earlier. Easy enough to do again.

    A great resource out there and I’ve also alerted people at Metafiler via a plug.

    http://ask.metafilter.com/132852/Do-Androids-Dream-of-Freely-Available-Apps

    Cheers.

  16. To respond to Claudio, this update was a double whammy. Not only does it install the “perfected” SPL, but also installs a radio version that seems to only boot official HTC boot images. If you read the forums, the update renders phones almost exactly the same as those sold by Rogers in Canada. Take a look at the problems they had rooting them.

    Fortunately there is a way out. The “one touch rooting” application or flashrec exploits a kernel bug which gives root access, allowing you to flash a new recovery image. With that you can flash a new SPL (go for 1.33.2005) and with that you can flash replacement radio firmware.

    Update was a complete waste as I had to undo almost all of it. I did update with a ROM built off the Rogers phone though so that I could get a feel for what the update would have felt like. If you have no intention of ever rooting your phone,

  17. To respond to Claudio, this update was a double whammy. Not only does it install the “perfected” SPL, but also installs a radio version that seems to only boot official HTC boot images. If you read the forums, the update renders phones almost exactly the same as those sold by Rogers in Canada. Take a look at the problems they had rooting them.

    Fortunately there is a way out. The “one touch rooting” application or flashrec exploits a kernel bug which gives root access, allowing you to flash a new recovery image. With that you can flash a new SPL (go for 1.33.2005) and with that you can flash replacement radio firmware.

    Update was a complete waste as I had to undo almost all of it. I did update with a ROM built off the Rogers phone though so that I could get a feel for what the update would have felt like. If you have no intention of ever rooting your phone, then this was a great update, especially for local dreams which updated from Android 1.1 to 1.5. If you want to root though, avoid!

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  19. Hi All

    I have some food for thought. It has been stated the the perfected SPL version won’t allow flashing a new firmware.

    The official firmware update program “magic.exe” does exactly this ? It has a “rom.zip” file.

    This can be futher investigated ?

  20. Hi there
    I did everything to tea like the instructions says.
    But when getting to the part were i load the mini boot over USB it says that remote not allowed and stops the process..

    Please help

  21. Please help me…
    When i get to Step number 14. by your step by step instructions i get the following error: downloading ‘boot.img’ …FAILED

    Why am i getting this error.
    All the other steps are preformed to tea and get everythinng in the right places like the steps say.

    Please help

  22. Hey there,

    Great guide, haven’t tried it because I’m a bit reluctant on getting a phone bricked right after I received it as a gift…

    Considering that this guide is fairly old by looking at the dates of the first comments, are there any ‘better’ alternatives to it right now? I’v e noticed that Android Donut (1.6) is out and was hoping to somehow get that onto my phone. I’m assuming the rom in the guide only contains 1.5…

    I’m actually in Australia and the phone was bought online and somehow it’s a Vodacom one, so I doubt i’ll be able to receive the OTA update when I’m all the way in Australia.

    Any suggestions?

  23. GREAT! Many thanks to you! I was googling about 7 hours! And exactly when I was disappointed you helped me.You are a real expert!

  24. I need the original vodacom rom for android. Somebody can upload the nandroid files to megaupload or rapidshare please?
    Thx very much

  25. Hey man,

    thanks for a great posting. Do you know where I could get a 2.1 Rom for the Magic? I googled a bit but there are so many different flavours that I’m a bit confused… any ideas?

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  28. Select ‘Apply sdcard:update.zip’. This essentially installs the system image from the update.zip file. Select ‘reboot system now’. Wait a long time for the first initialization. Congratulations, you have a real, rooted, Android phone with Android Market and thousands of quality apps to install.cheap airline tickets discount plane ticket

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