Scott Hanselman

How to upgrade an HP TouchPad to Android Ice Cream Sandwich

February 27, 2012 Comment on this post [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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February 27, 2012 12:53
Now you can try the Hanselminutesplayer app for Android on it ;-)

Yes that was a shameless plug ;-).
February 27, 2012 12:57
This is so cool! I think it makes HP TouchPad more useful than before.
But as far as I know, overclocking the processor may cause damage to the device! Is it OK to you?
February 27, 2012 13:36
there are some many devices luckily mine old htc phone is also there and since htc has not released any updates since froyo 2.2 for my device. I might try Cyanogen Gingerbread on it.
February 27, 2012 13:50
I have been using all of the builds of CyanogenMod e.g. CM7 and CM9 with the Touchpad, and have found them to work pretty for daily use, especially considering the alpha status. I also have CM7 running on my Samsung Galaxy S2.

I have no issues with gmail syncing etc, even with 2 factor auth, as long as you create a new one time password etc.
February 27, 2012 15:36
Hey Scott,

I did this myself yesterday, your post was one day late :)

I am using 2-step authentication on my google account have not had any problems with gmail or any other app.

My approach was to create an application-specific password for the tablet, which i then used when i signed in with my google account during initial set up. Was this how you set it up?

February 27, 2012 15:44
Application-specific passwords worked ine on gapps in CM7, but with the new CM9 gapps when I tried to sign in with an app specific pw the system literally said "don't use an app specific password." When I tried logging in the usual way with a code, I get errors.
February 27, 2012 16:47
Nice post to upgrade HP touchpad.
February 27, 2012 23:40
Great youre using the the TP and try to patch it like a tweaker. I use the webos TP almost everyday. I use it for the web, emailing and some gaming. I have 20 apps and dont need more. (but you never know) Its of course over clocked with Uber kernel and some patches from preware to make things smooth. Im pretty content with it. The galaxy does not offer the same experience but it is faster. Soon the js engine is replaced via the open source initiative from hp. Very curious what that is going to do with the perf.

anyway webos on a galaxy would be far more interesting and would be possible when open sourcing webos is complete.

February 28, 2012 2:15
Nice advice for touchpad users!

The reason why you are getting errors with the google 2 way auth could be because of an old version of the google apps. I use CM9 on my phone, in it's alpha state also. I use google apps from the 15th or so of february, and 2way auth works without any issue. I created an app password and I used it when I first signed in. Never ran into any issues.

It's worth a try updating to the latest version. I got them over there :

You take the one for ICS 4.0.3 and should be good to go ;)
February 28, 2012 7:42
I'm having trouble with this. Are you supposed to unzip any of these files before running the exe command?
February 28, 2012 8:28
I followed these instructions pretty well but when I hit enter after my command nothing happens.
February 28, 2012 11:18
Kevin - Which command?
February 28, 2012 20:09
I did this a few days ago. It actually makes me feel somehow "dirty." I really love WebOS and I especially love that it will be a "true" open source OS (Android is only really shared source). I WANT it to WebOS to succeed and for both the OS and the app ecosystems to thrive. But, although I still find myself swiping up all the time trying to switch apps, I have to admit that CM9 has the promise to be a better overall TouchPad experience. I have problems with sound in lots of apps and the ever-present status bar at the bottom is a PITA in some cases, but, sigh, it is likely inevitable that this will become my "everyday" tablet OS.
February 28, 2012 21:07
There is a Google+ page where you can follow posts about Cyanogenmod 9 for Touchpad here:
February 28, 2012 21:23
Great post, I enjoyed reading it! Keep posting good stuff like this.
February 28, 2012 22:36
Paul - Totally agree. If WebOS and the TouchPad was just a little snappier (I overclocked) it could have been a contender. It was a VERY innovative OS.
February 29, 2012 5:45
novacom.exe boot mem:// < ACMEInstaller2 is the command I try to run but nothing happens... otherwise I've been following the steps to a T.
February 29, 2012 5:47
It gets stuck to the point where I have to close the command prompt... the touchpad just keeps showing the white usb image. Everything is downloaded and in the right paths and I didn't unzip the folders
June 20, 2012 21:47
I upgraded my HP pad with no problem but when all was done it came up with a swipe password. I have not odes how to get in.
August 08, 2012 23:48
Installed upgrade with only minor hitches, but when I try to connect with Windows 7 laptop it can't find driver and doesn't connect. What did I do wrong?
September 20, 2012 8:23
I did this yesterday, thanks for the write up. Just to note that the CM team has a wiki page for this procedure now here:

I was surprised with how much more polished this CM9 UI feels compared to WebOS which I felt was a bit sluggish.
January 09, 2013 8:44
hello, my sister gave me her HP tablet and I'm trying to learn and figure out how to install jelly bean or ice cream sandwich....but, unfortunately I've watched all the videos and can NOT for the life of me figure out or understand a damn thing... I can't even make it past installing a zip page. So, is there ANYONE who can generously help me!!the you tube DIY videos just isn't working for me! So, anyone.....please...someone please help me do this thing. :'( :-( Sincerely, Jessica ------
February 02, 2013 3:34
how do i get google play store please help
April 03, 2013 22:55
I am trying to do this install. I get the files onto the HP Touchpad with no problem. I eject the touchpad in Windows. I go to devices, reset, restart. The touchpad begins to reboot, it goes dark and I hold down the volume up button. Nothing happens. Any ideas?

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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.