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Removing Bloat from Orange HTC Desire

Anyone with an HTC Desire from Orange UK will know that it comes with a lot of extra apps which have been installed by Orange and can’t be uninstalled without modifying the software on the phone.

I don’t mind the extra bloat as long as it doesn’t intrude in my experience, and through the use of LauncherPro, I was able to hide all the apps in the app drawer that I didn’t want to use. However, despite hiding them, I was constantly facing the problem of not having enough space on the internal storage to install new apps. Although all my apps (where possible) were pushed to the SD card, I was constantly getting space warnings and having to clear Facebook data to gain a couple of extra MB.

So, to resolve this problem, I decided to root my phone and therefore gain the ability to uninstall the apps I didn’t want that were clogging up my system. After spending a few hours working out how to do that (at the time of writing, this is the only method that I found which successfully roots the device).

After spending some time working out how to root it, I discovered that even with root access, you cannot uninstall the Orange apps. You need to then complete a procedure to get s-off access before you can do that. While looking into s-off access, I found out that uninstalling the Orange apps will not give the user more space to install applications, without further modification (they’re installed in a different partition – more info here).

Therefore, the easiest way to get more space to install apps on your phone, is to flash a smaller ROM. I decided that since I had got root access, I should take a backup and attempt flashing a custom ROM. I decided upon CyanogenMod (version 7.0.2.1) and so far am pretty happy with – it’s fairly different to the standard ROM which has HTC Sense installed, but seems pretty interesting so far.

So, in summary, if you want to remove the Orange apps from your HTC Desire the easiest method is to flash a custom ROM (unless you want to play around with partition sizes). The way I did it (with some info on hurdles I encountered):

  1. Gain root access on the device via the unrEVOked method.
    1. I tried Universal Androot and Z4Root but neither appeared to successfully give root access.
    2. I wasn’t able to download the reflash package using Google Chrome for some reason. No idea why, but downloaded OK in other browsers.
    3. After plugging the device into the PC, unrEVOked was not finding the phone. This was because my PC did not have the necessary drivers. Downloading and starting to install HTC Sync resolved this problem (you need to have HTC Sync uninstalled to use unrEVOked, however, the first part of the installation installs the drivers, then you can quit to save you installing then having to uninstall HTC Sync).
  2. Flash CyanogenMod with this method.
    1. The instructions say you get an option to “Backup Existing ROM” and “Wipe Data and Cache”. I did not select “Wipe Data and Cache” and CyanogenMod never booted up properly – I got stuck on the loading screen in a constant loop. Apparently you need to wipe data before you can boot CyanogenMod properly. I was able to boot into Recovery Mode and wipe data, then CyanogenMod booted up no problem.

Obviously you don’t need to flash CyanogenMod – you can flash any ROM you like, including official RUU ROMs (ROMs provided by HTC/O2/Vodafone etc).

It’s important to note that at the time of writing, I was not able to find an official Orange UK RUU ROM which means that once the device is rooted, I cannot confirm if it’s possible to unroot it back to the standard Orange ROM. You will probably be able to install another RUU ROM, but not the Orange one that came with the phone.

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