If you are a Sprint Hero owner and want the latest official 2.1 update baked into a custom ROM with root, then you currently have only one alternative - the Fresh ROM.

Custom ROMs For The Hero

There are pretty much only 2 main Sprint Hero custom ROMs - DamageControl (by damageless and TrevE) and Fresh (by flipz). Both are very good, have an excellent track record, and great communities behind them.

I've personally been using DamageControl on my Hero but post-official 2.1 update, flipz has moved a little faster than damageless and TrevE, and incorporated it into his Fresh ROM pretty much on the next day, while DamageControl is still stuck at 2.08.1.

The Fresh ROM, just like DamageControl, comes already rooted, which is a huge plus. As far as I know, there is currently no standalone way to root a stock 2.1 Hero, other than by installing one of these custom pre-rooted ROMs.

If I understand it correctly, you would be able to upgrade to the Fresh ROM in the following situations:

  • you already have a rooted OS, such as 1.5 with the root hack or a previous version of DamageControl or Fresh
  • you've had a rooted OS before at one point and flashed a custom recovery image that allows installation of custom ROMs

The only situation in which you cannot install a custom ROM then seems to be if you have never rooted your phone, never flashed recovery, and already upgraded to the official 2.1. In this case, you will have to wait for a standalone hack applicable to 2.1.

Fresh ROM

Here is some information about the Fresh ROM from the official description:

  • Based on the official Sprint RUU.
  • Auto apps2sd 2.7 beta 7 custom by tkirton. This one will not move your cache to sd at my request (tkirton built it this way for me). But you can turn on cache2sd if you want.
  • Updated google maps to v4.2.1 with “Nav” link in the app drawer and multi-touch.
  • All protected apps in market
  • Live wallpapers (launcher2 only. Not in Rosie.)
  • Espresso bottom bar by flipz
  • Full color HTC sliders by flipz
  • flash_image for flashing RA
  • Nexus Launcher2
  • Updated estrongs file explorer to v1.3.12
  • Updated market to v1713
  • Updated facebook to v1.2
  • Quickboot works… for those who use it!
  • Removed:
    • Amazon mp3
    • GSD (HTC test program that was draining battery)
    • HTC Footprints
    • HTC Navigation Panel
    • HTC Ringtone trimmer
    • HTC Stocks
    • Quick Office
    • Learn more
    • pdf viewer
    • Sprint navigator
    • Sprint Nascar
    • Sprint NFL
    • Sprint TV
    • Teeter
    • DOWNLOAD REMOVED APKS HERE: http://geekfor.me/downloads/fresh21removedapks If you use Fresh Kitchen 1.0.5 you can copy them to your My Apk’s folder and use the app installer to install them.
  • Added:
    • Busy box
    • Super User
    • Wifi tether 1.6 (downgraded due to DHCP/NAT issues)

What to expect / how to flash it / READ THIS :

  • Download and copy the zip to the root of your sdcard
  • Reboot to RA and do a data wipe / factory reset (REQUIRED)
  • You may also need to wipe sd:ext if you are having troubles booting.
  • If you are running Fresh Toast and ext4 then you’ll need to partition back to ext3 if you want to use apps2sd
  • Pick flash zip from sdcard and select fresh-cdma-hero-2.1.zip
  • After it finishes flashing reboot. Expect the first boot up to take a while.
  • If it freezes during first boot then you were likely using a2sd from another rom. Unfortunately during earlier 2.x roms there were a few versions of a2sd floating around and now that is going to cause problems. If this happens to you (and you already did a factory reset like you should have) then you will need to boot in to RA and go to wipe and then Wipe SD:Ext Partition. This will delete all apps off your sdcard. You will want to reflash the rom if you have to do this or else you will be missing some apps from the rom.
  • When the phone boots and comes to the user setup screen I would recommend syncing your google account right away. I noticed an old bug creep back in where it gets stuck during sync. This seems to be avoided by adding your google account during setup.

For more detailed upgrade instructions and to find out more about rooting and custom ROMs, use the following tutorials:

Are you using Fresh already? How do you like it? Have you ever compared it to DamageControl? Feel free to share in the comments.