Scott Hanselman

How to upgrade an HP TouchPad to Android Ice Cream Sandwich

February 27, '12 Comments [24] Posted in Android | Open Source
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A while back I picked up an HP TouchPad for $99 during the great "HP Tribulations of 2011." It was a fire sale and I was lucky enough to grab one on Amazon. I really like the HP WebOS and I enjoyed overclocking the TouchPad to get more performance out of it. For $99 it's an insane little piece of hardware. I wanted to see if taking over the hardware and putting Android's Ice Cream Sandwich would make the TouchPad even more useful. Plus, it's a hacker's dream, so why not.

The folks making Ice Create Sandwich work is the Cyanogen team. Here's the main link to their HP Touchpad page, although they do lots more.

Here's the process. This one assume you're starting from an HP TouchPad that has TouchOS on it or one that already has a built of Android on it but you don't mind messing it up.

When you have Java installed you can now double click on the UniversalNovacomInstaller.jar file.

Run the JAR file

Say yes and Download the Drivers, and wait.

Download Drivers_ (24)

When it is done, you'll be left at the Install button again. Just close the app.

The Novacom stuff is installed to C:\Program Files\Palm, Inc. You'll want to copy your ACMEInstaller2 file into that folder where novacom.exe is located. Also copy the gapps zip file into the root of the HP TouchPad's drive.

Plugin your HP TouchPad to you PC's USB while in Web OS. Select USB Drive mode. You should get a USB Symbol on your TouchPad. Open the new drive for your TouchPad in Windows Explorer and make a folder "cminstall". Copy moboot, clockwork, and the main CM update zip into that new folder.

From the Settings Menu in TouchOS select Settings | Device Info | Restart. When the screen goes black, hold down the Volume Up button until a USB Symbol appears again. This one will be white with no border.

Now, while your TouchPad is connected to your PC and showing the USB symbol, go back to your Windows machine and open a Command Prompt. Go to C:\Program Files\Palm, Inc type novacom.exe boot mem:// < ACMEInstaller2 like this:

C:\Program Files\Palm, Inc>novacom.exe boot mem:// < ACMEInstaller2

After you hit Enter a lot of text will appear on your TouchPad.  This it's working. When your TouchPad reboots into Ice Cream Sandwich, go through the setup.

If you want to install the extra Google Apps stuff, reboot. From the mooboot 0.3.5 menu you can launch ClockworkMod and install Google Apps from that zip file.

Ice Cream Sandwich on HP TouchPad

It's very very early, but it's pretty cool that it works this well at all. I'm looking forward to seeing if they can get it completely working and reasonably supported on the HP TouchPad. I think for browsing and goofing around HP Web OS is fine, but if you have a TouchPad and you are already invested in Google Apps and the Android Marketplace, you should be keeping an eye on this project.

I have already had dozens of crashes (it's an Alpha) so I wouldn't recommend making this your primary tablet. I also can't get my Google Apps (Gmail, etc) to synchronize as I'm using 2 factor auth and there's some subtle bug. I'm also unable to get Google Chrome for Android to work because it's version check doesn't seen this build of Ice Cream Sandwich as a legit version that's > 4.0. There is a fix for Chrome on the HP TouchPad if you really need it, though.

However, Browsing, Flash, many apps and Video works fairly well. Plus, I can always reboot back into HP Web OS so I can't really hurt the tablet.

If you're really hardcore, there are now CM9 Nighty Builds. You can follow the nightly builds on Twitter and read more on their thread and also in the unofficial thread in the forums. Have fun!

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.