How to Root your HTC G1 Dream mobile phone

Taking advantage of a small security exploit that was left in early Android Builds, we can gain Root access and take advantage of many additional features, all of which can be explained here! The builds of Android that have the exploit are known as RC19, RC28 and RC29. For UK phones it would be RC7 or lower. Anything higher than RC7/RC29, Google had already patched the exploit but fear not! We can still root it.

NOTE: This guide is written under the assumption that the user is using Windows. If you are using a MAC or Linux Distro then use the normal steps on how to format, extract and copy files to the SD Card.

Here’s the checklist of things you need before we start!

  • HTC G1 Mobile phone
  • Firmware files: RC7 for UK or RC29 for US
  • MicroSD Card
  • MiniUSB cable or SD Card reader
  • Cyanogen’s & JF’s Recovery Image
  • HardSPL boot loader
  • The latest Radio driver
  • Your ROM of choice.
  • Fully charged battery or have it plugged in to your charger/USB

There are many custom ROMs available out there, however I would suggest using Cyanogen’s Stable build first and from there on in you can pick and choose any ROM you wish, if you want to run a custom Donut build (Cyanogen’s Experimental) or a Hero Build (Drizzy, JAC).

However before we start we need to find out what firmware version you currently have before downgrading.

To do this go to your Home Screen and press the Menu button. Click on Settings > About Phone and then scroll right to the bottom until you see this screen.

<insert image>

As previously mentioned above, if you have a firmware version which is higher than RC7/RC29 then we need to downgrade the firmware to make the magic possible. As of writing, I am pretty sure all Android Devices will be at least version 1.5 (higher than RC7/RC29) so this is a pre-requisite step.

Are you ready to root your Android phone? Let’s begin!

Prepare your SD Card

  1. Format your SD card
    There are two methods of doing this, either using the SD Card reader or with your mobile connected to your computer.

To format using your phone and computer

  • Connect your phone using a MiniUSB cable to your computer and wait for a notification message to appear.
  • Click on the notification and then on the Mount button
  • A removable storage device should appear on your computer. Right click on the drive and click on Format.
  • In the Format window, select FAT23 and format the card.

To format using a card reader

  • Connect your SD card into the card reader
  • Plug it into your computer and a removable storage device should appear
  • Right click on the device and select Format.
  • In the Format window, select FAT32 and format the card

<insert image of right click and format screen>

2. Download the RC7 (UK) or RC29 (US) firmware files
Once downloaded, extract the DREAMING.nbh file to the freshly formatted SD Card. Put the SD card back into the phone if it isn’t there already.

<insert image of files being copied over>

Downgrading your Android Phone

  1. Hold the Power button and turn the phone off
  2. Hold the Camera button and press the Power button to turn the phone on into Bootloader mode. You should see a white screen with instructions to flash the firmware onto your phone.
    If this doesn’t happen then make sure the DREAMING.nbh file is on the SD Card in and start again.
  3. Following the on-screen instructions press the Power button to start the flashing procedure

  5. Once the flashing process has finished, restart your phone.

Rooting your RC7/RC29 or lower G1 phone


  1. Download Cyanogen’s & JF’s Recovery image if you haven’t done so already. Copy the cm-recovery-1.4.img file to your SD card.
  2. Download the HardSPL and copy the zip file to the SD Card
  3. Restart the phone and go to the home screen.
  4. Press the Enter key twice
  5. Type “telnetd” (without the speech marks) and press Enter. Ignore the contact search!
  6. Go to the Android Market and search for “Telnet”. Download, install and open it.
  7. Click on Connect to Server and you should have a root prompt “#
  8. Type the following into Telnet, pressing Enter at the end of each line:
  • mount -o rw,remount -t yaffs2 /dev/block/mtdblock3 /system
  • cd sdcard
  • flash_image recovery cm-recovery-1.4.img

Now you have root and Cyanogen’s superb Recovery Image!

What can I do now?

Well now that you have root, it is a good time to start making some precautions. First up let’s install that HardSPL file. The HardSPL allows you to protect yourself and retain root when flashing other firmware versions and to aid repair if you happen to semi “brick” your phone. To install the HardSPL, its easy.

  1. Turn off your phone.
  2. Hold the Home button and press Power to boot into Recovery Mode
  3. You should see the great Cyanogen & JF Recovery mode 1.4
  4. Using your trackball, select the “Apply
  5. Press the trackball or Press Alt-S to apply the update from the SD card. Press Home to confirm.
  6. After the update is complete, hold Home and press Back to restart.

We’re almost there! Now we have Root access, the HardSPL and the amazing Cyanogen Recovery image. However we still have a pretty old version of Android on our phone. Here comes the fun part! Pick your custom ROM of choice from the many available out there and installing it. However at this stage I would suggest running Cyanogen’s Stable build so you can start using your mobile before experimenting with other builds.

How to flash custom ROMs

  1. Download your ROM of choice (I suggest Cyanogen’s Stable Build)
  2. Copy the .zip file to your SD Card
  3. Turn your phone off
  4. Hold Home and press Power to enter the Recovery Mode
  5. Using the trackball, select “Apply any zip from sd” or just press Alt+A
  6. Select the and press the trackball down
  7. Press Home to confirm the choice
  8. Once flashed, press Home+Back to reboot

You are now running a custom ROM! From here on in, you do not need to root the device again providing you run a custom ROM with root built in. Welcome to the world of root access! To see what else can be achieved with root access be sure to read this post to find out more.

I hope this guide has helped you to root your device and to welcome you to the world of possible modifications. If you have any issues then feel free to leave a comments or hit the forum for a better response.