The CyanogenMod team has released the first public build of Google Android for the HP TouchPad tablet. Right now the software is still in the alpha phase, which means that not everything works as it should. There are still bugs with the Bluetooth, camera, and other functions, for instance. But for the most part, the operating system is now up and running on HP’s discontinued tablet and anyone can install it.
While the HP TouchPad originally shipped with webOS 3.0 software, the tablet’s hardware is similar to many Android tablets. Since the future of webOS is uncertain — and right now there are hundreds of thousands of apps available for Android and less than 10,000 apps for webOS, many of the people who picked up cheap HP Touchpads when HP discontinued the tablet in a $99 fire-sale have been looking forward to installing Android.
The steps below will help you to do just that. This will create a dual-boot setup, allowing you to switch between Android and webOS. Again, this is alpha software, and things can go wrong. You’ll also lose music or other media stored in webOS when you follow these steps.
The current version of CyanogenMod for the TouchPad is based on Android 2.3.7. Once Google released the source code for Ice Cream Sandwich, developers will start working to port it to the TouchPad, but that work could take several months to complete.
Update 1/18/2012: CyanogenMod 9 Alpha 0 has been released. While it’s still pretty rough around the edges, this is the first build of Android 4.0 publicly available for the HP TouchPad. You can install it by following our step-by-step instructions.
They’re similar to the instructions below, but there are a few key differences.
Update 12/15/2011: CyanogenMod released Alpha 3.5 of CyanogenMod 7.1 Android for the HP TouchPad. The only real change to the install process is that you now download the alpha 3.5 file instead of the Alpha 1 file. The rest of the steps remain unchanged.
If you’ve already installed CyanogenMod Alpha 1 and you want to know how to upgrade to Alpha 3.5, you can follow our step-by-step instructions. You’ll likely be able to apply future updates following the same steps.
Instructions for a fresh install:
- Download and install the Palm Novacom software for your computer. You can find grab the latest software for Windows, Mac, or Linux from the HP website.
If you want to install the Google Android Market and Google apps such as Gmail and YouTube (which you probably do), you’ll also want the gApps installer for CyanogenMod. You can download it from goo-inside.me or from the CyanogenMod wiki.
All told, you’re downloading 5 files:
- The latest gApps package for CyanogenMod
- Unzip the ACMInstaller file to the same directory where Palm Novacom is installed. On my computer that directory is C:\Program Files\Palm, Inc.
Connect your HP TouchPad to your computer with a USB cable.
On the TouchPad you should see a USB notification. Tap the symbol to mount your tablet as a USB mass storage device on your computer.
- Open a file browser on your computer and create a new folder on your HP TouchPad called “cminstall”
Copy the update-cm-7.1.0-tenderloin-a1-fullofbugs.zip, update-cwm_tenderloin-1012.zip, and moboot_0.3.3.zip files into that directory. If you’re also installing gApps, drag tat file to the cminstall folder as well.
Do not unzip these files first.
- Now it’s time to reset your HP TouchPad. To do that follow these steps:
- Tap the home button and then hit the arrow key to bring up a list of applications.
- Navigate to Settings.
- Choose Device Info.
- Select the red Reset Options button at the bottom.
- Tap the Restart option on the following screen.
If you want to install the Google Apps including the Android Market and Gmail apps, scroll down to the bottom of this article for details on how to add those features.
- As soon as the screen goes dark, start holding the Volume Up button — don’t let go until you see a big USB symbol on your display.
Your computer might take a moment to recognize the TouchPad.
Once it’s recognized, open a terminal and navigate to the Palm Novacom directory. On a Windows computer you can do this by following these steps:
- Click on the Start Menu.
- Type “cmd” (without quotes) into the search box.
- A terminal window should open up — but you’re in the wrong directory.
- Type “cd c:\” and press enter to get to your root directory.
- To navigate to the correct directory, type “dir” and press enter to see a list of directories.
- On my computer, I next typed “cd Program Files” and hit enter, then “cd Palm, Inc” and hit enter again.
- Enter the following command (without quotes) and hit return: “novacom boot mem:// < ACMEInstaller”.
That’s pretty much it. For the next few minutes you should see text flying across your screen. When it’s done, the HP TouchPad will boot Google Android.
In order to get back to webOS:
- Press and hold the power button.
- Choose the reboot option.
- Then select “reboot to webOS” from the next menu.
Note that you’ll only be able to reboot to webOS if you’ve installed the “moboot” file as described above.
This method installs the open source CyanogenMod 7.1 version of Android on the tablet. It’s based on Google Android 2.3.7 software.
If you didn’t install the Android Market and other Google apps, it’s not too late to do it at this point. Just follow these steps:
- Download the latest gApps package for CyanogenMod 7 from goo-inside.me or from the CyanogenMod wiki.
- Copy it to the same “cminstall” directory on your TouchPad where you placed the CyanogenMod installers.
- Run the ACMEInstaller program again from your computer — or you can try adding gApps during your initial installation.
If you’re familiar with using ClockworkMod Recovery, you can also place any update files in the root of your device’s storage and reboot into recovery from Android and use ClockworkMod to apply updates.
Note that the first time you boot after installing gApps you may want to hit the “cancel” button instead of signing in with your Google account right away. That way you have time to connect to a WiFi network before the Android Market tries to load the list of available Google applications.
Even if you do install the Android Market, you may find that some of your favorite apps aren’t listed. I couldn’t find the Facebook, Twitter, Google Maps, or Dolphin HD web browser apps when I searched the Market for them on the TouchPad.
This is likely because the Android Market doesn’t think they’ll be able to run properly on the TouchPad’s hardware. They will.
You just need to install them manually. If you have a rooted Android phone or another device you can use an app such as Titanium Backup or ROM Toolbox to create backup copies of any apps installed on your device. You can then email them to yourself or copy them to your tablet using another method.
I was able to successfully install all four apps listed above. They don’t all look great on the TouchPad’s 9.7 inch, 1024 x 768 pixel display, but they do run.
Update: There’s an update that fixes the problem with the Android Market that had prevented certain apps from being listed. If you’re running CyanogenMod 7.1 Alpha 2, then the Android Market fix should come pre-loaded. If for some reason you’re still using Alpha 1, there are two ways to install the Market fix.
Method 1: Using Android and ClockworkMod Recovery:
- Download update-cm-7.1.0-tenderloin-marketfix-Flemmard.zip from Multiupload
- Connect your tablet to your PC via a USB cable and mount your tablet as a USB mass storage device.
- Copy the update file to the root directory of your device.
- Press and hold the power button on your tablet.
- Choose the Reboot option.
- Select Recovery from the next menu.
- Your tablet will reboot to ClockworkMod Recovery.
- Use the volume buttons to scroll down to “install zip from sdcard.”
- Tap the home button to select that option.
- Tap the home button again to “choose zip from sdcard.”
- Use the volume keys to scroll down and select the update file.
- Tap the home key to select.
- From the next menu, use the volume keys and home key to select the “yes” option.
- After the install is complete, press the power button to go back to the main menu, and tap home to reboot your system.
Method 2: Using Android or webOS and the ACMEInstaller
- Download update-cm-7.1.0-tenderloin-marketfix-Flemmard.zip from Multiupload.
- Connect your tablet to your computer and mount it as a mass storage device.
- Create a folder called “cminstall” on your device.
- Copy the update file to that folder.
- Reboot your device into recovery mode by restarting the tablet and holding the Volume Up button until a big USB icon appears on the screen.
- Follow steps 11 and 12 in the tutorial above to open a terminal, navigate to the Palm Novacom/ACMEInstaller directory, and enter market “novacom boot mem:// < ACMEInstaller” to start the install process.
Once you’ve done that, you should be able to find Google Maps, the Dolphin HD or Opera web browsers, or other apps in the Android Market.
If you’re wondering exactly how the ACMEInstaller works, you can read more about it at the CyanogenMod blog. Basically, the app resizes the webOS media volume to create space for Android system, cache, and data volumes. It then installs CyanogenMod, the Moboot bootloader, and anyother files such as the Google Apps.
This is why using the installer tool will erase any songs, photos, or other media stored in your HP TouchPad webOS media directory.
The good news is that CyanogenMod 7.1 for the TouchPad will then treat the webOS media area as if it were an SD card — so you can access webOS media from Android, or access your Android files from webOS.
You can find out more about how the first alpha release of CyanogenMod for the HP TouchPad works in my hands-on post, or check out this video:
What to do if you can’t reboot to webOS
If you followed the instructions and put Moboot and ClockworkMod Recovery in the cminstall folder when you first flashed Android you should be able to use the “reboot to webOS” option to restart your tablet in webOS. If not, you can only reboot to Android — but don’t worry. There’s a way to fix this.
- While in Android, connect your tablet to a computer via a USB cable.
- A “USB connected” option will show up in your notification bar. Tap the option that says “Turn on USB storage.”
- Your tablet should show up on your computer as a USB disk drive.
- Create a folder called “cminstall.”
- Place Moboot, Google Apps, or any other file you need to flash into that folder.
- Reboot your tablet while holding the Volume Up button to enter recovery mode.
- From your computer, follow steps 11 and 12 from the installation tutorial again to open a terminal, navigate to the novacom folder and use the “novacom boot mem:// < ACMEInstaller” command.
That should send the new components over to your TouchPad and the next time you boot you should have the missing features such as the ability to enter ClockworkMod Recovery to select your boot options.
What do to if ClockworkMod Recovery fails to install
It’s possible that Android may install properly, while the ClockworkMod Recovery installation fails. One theory is that this happens sometimes if you have a custom webOS kernel in the /boot partition. Here’s what you can do manually install the Recovery:
- Unzip the update-cwm_ternerloin-1012.zip file to the same director where Novacom and your ACMEInstaller files are located.
- Connect your TouchPad to your computer and reboot into Recovery by holding the Up Volume button while you reboot.
- Open a terminal and navigate to the Novacom directory.
- Type the following (without the quotes): “novacom boot mem:// < uImage.ClockworkMod”
What to do if you’re pretty sure your tablet is frozen
First, make sure your device is really frozen. The install process can take a while, so it might look like nothing is happening even when there’s activity. But if five or six minutes pass and you find yourself looking at blank screen, try pressing and holding the power button and home button at the same time for about 30 seconds. This should cause your tablet to reboot.
What to do if your device repeatedly fails to wake from sleep
CyanogenMod 7.1 for the HP TouchPad is still alpha software, which means it’s still pretty rough around the edges. One of the biggest problems users have found is the so-called “sleep of death,” which basically means that from time to time the tablet will fail to resume from sleep when you press the power button.
One possible fix for this is to install a software patch that should eliminate or at least reduce sleep of death instances. You can find details on how to do that in our article about the sleep of death.
Restoring webOS with the webOS Doctor
If you royally mess things up you can also try to restore your system to factory default condition using the webOS doctor. The folks at webOS Internals have put together a nice set of instructions for doing that.
I want to restore webOS, uninstall Android, and recover all missing space
If you just use the webOS doctor to restore webOS, you won’t actually erase Android or change the storage partition size — which means the space in your media partition that was allotted for Android will still be inaccessible.
But the CyanogenMod team has released a tool called ACMEUninstaller which you can use to completely remove Android and change your partitions back to their normal size.
Just download the latest version from the link at the RootzWiki forum, unzip the app to your Palm Novacom directory and run it the same way you would run the ACMEInstaller app.
Bonus round: If Android isn’t your thing, you can also install Ubuntu Linux on the TouchPad.
Note that while it’s pretty hard to completely “brick” the tablet and leave it entirely unusable, it is possible to do so. Installing Android may void your warranty — especially if you’re unable to restore the tablet to its factory default settings. So please proceed at your own risk, and understand that neither Liliputing nor the developers at CyanogenMod can be held responsible if something you do to your tablet causes it to stop working properly.