I think I've mentioned approximately 758 times now that I bought a Nook Color when they first came out last year, and liked it so much that I immediately bought another one for Husband (so that he would stop hogging mine).
I do love my Nook Color, but I'll also frankly admit that after the shine wore off a little, my daily experience with the device wasn't all that I had hoped for. I don't feel like I'm an especially picky person, but the stock software that came on the device just wasn't well-suited for my style of reading, and I soon found myself reading more and more on my 4" android phone than on my 7" Nook Color. Clearly something was wrong with this picture.
I read up on rooting the device so that I could transform the Nook Color into a "proper" android tablet, with the idea that access to the Google android market would solve this problem. I eventually went with the wonderful autonooter rooting method, and everything was solved forever - I still had all the stock B&N software for accessing my Nook magazine and newspaper subscriptions, but I also had an android launcher (Zeam) configured to basically mirror my phone setup, but on my Nook Color. Awesome!
The only problem with this was that the autonooter procedure could be wiped with a B&N update such as the one that went out recently (to rather lackluster community response). And even with the Zeam launcher, the Nook Color still didn't feel like a real tablet device - the icons were very small and spread out across the screen, and the entire device behaved not unlike a small phone stretched to a larger screen. Then, too, there was the problem that rooting did technically void the warranty, which made Husband rather reluctant to try.
All in all, the autonooter method works and works well and I'm absolutely thrilled that clever and thoughtful people took the time to make it, film a helpful tutorial video, and disseminate it online. However, when friends on the MobileRead forums started recommending an alternative method for creating a full tablet experience - running the CM7 firmware from a removable micro-SD card - I knew I had to try it out.
The benefits to the CM7-from-SD-card experience are many and varied. The entire procedure takes less than 30 minutes to setup. Once setup, your Nook Color can run either the B&N stock software OR the CM7 tablet firmware at any time - the only trigger is whether or not the magical SD card has been inserted prior to powering up the device. The Nook Color doesn't have to be rooted, and everything involving CM7 and your new android tablet environment is confined entirely to the SD card, so you (apparently) aren't voiding your warranty or risking damage to your device. Best of all, the tablet experience provided here really is a full-fledged tablet environment - the icons are properly sized and the screen space available for your shortcuts and widgets is absolutely amazing.
Now, I want to stress that I have nothing to do with CM7 or the Cyanogen team whatsoever - I didn't even know they existed before last week. And I take no responsibility for anything you do to your device, etc., etc. boiler-plate legal disclaimer. But having said *that*, I wanted to put together a video of how to install CM7 on an SD card for use with your Nook Color, because frankly I find written instructions to be harder to follow than visual ones. (Although this eventually became five videos because Adobe Premier wouldn't let me easily stream my "live-camera" movies with my "computer-screenshot-movies" without scrunching the computer stuff to a totally unreadable format.)
Ready? Let's get started.
Here is a list of all the things you will need:
- A Nook Color. (Duh.)
- A micro SD card. There's no mandatory size / format / manufacturer for this process, but supposedly quality does matter on these things and I have no idea how you tell the "good" ones from the "bad" ones without buying them first. I use this micro SD card - I own three of these now, all from this listing on Amazon, and two of them are running CM7 for Nook Colors as I type. (You'll also need a way to connect your micro SD card to your computer - something like this should work.)
- An image-writing program like WinImage. I used WinImage85 in my tutorial.
- The CM7 installer image here. Note that the ".gz" extension is a compressed format - you'll need to unzip it with a program like WinRar. (Update: This link seems to be dead now, and I'm not sure why. I've uploaded the version I used here, but I take no credit for this build. I think you can still get it free on the CyanogenMod website, but I can't find it at the moment.)
- The CM7 build here. (Download the update-cm-ETCETERA-.zip file. Do not unzip - just leave as is.)
- The CM7 google apps installer here. (Scroll to the bottom until you see this download link.)
OK. Now that you've got your hardware (Nook Color, micro SD card, and a card reader to connect to your computer) and your software (WinRar, WinImage, CM7 installer, CM7 build, CM7 gapps), we're ready to start watching videos.
- Video 1 is an introduction to the process and gets you from "What is this whole CM7 thing that Ana keeps talking about?" to "Mmkay, we're putting the SD card in the computer now."
- Video 2 is a step-by-step computer tutorial showing how to use WinImage to write the CM7 installer to the SD card and how to move the CM7 build file over to the imaged card.
- Video 3 shows you how to put the SD card into your Nook Color so that the CM7 installer can build CM7 onto the SD card for actual use, and what to expect when you boot up CM7 for the first time.
- Video 4 is another step-by-step computer tutorial for where to put the gapps (Google apps) installer on your SD card for installation to the CM7 build.
- Video 5 shows you how to walk through the Google apps installation process, how to connect to WiFi, and how shiny and cool CM7 is once you've done this final step.
Overall, the process is fairly simple, and I actually think a video of the process will probably seem like overkill to anyone familiar with the process, but I hope this will help newbies (like me!) who feel overwhelmed by not knowing what, exactly, to expect. Once you've seen the videos, hopefully this won't seem so scary or strange.
As a final note, credits must be given where credit is most definitely due:
- Huge love goes out to The Unlockr for their Autonooter method that originally got me brave enough to mess around with my Nook Color in the first place.
- Even more huge love to The Unlockr for their equally helpful instructions on how to flash the Nook Color back to a complete fresh-out-of-the-box factory reset.
- Great appreciation goes to Quinxy von Besiex for his helpful article on the difference between running CM7 from SD card verses from the internal memory of the device...
- ...and for his wonderful how-to-use-a-bluetooth-keyboard-with-your-CM7-nook-color instructions, which were what convinced me to use CM7 and which I will use just as soon as my new bluetooth keyboard arrives in the mail.
- Buckets of credit goes to verygreen for the size-agnostic SD card CM7 installer, as well as for the instructions that I followed in this process.
- The community of MobileRead deserves special thanks for introducing me to the very concept of CM7 and its use with the Nook Color.
- And, of course, the Cyanogen team deserves my undying love and gratitude for making and distributing this incredibly cool mod.
Update: Once you have everything set up on your SD card exactly the way you want (apps downloaded, emails setup, etc.), you can create a backup of the SD card contents by following these steps:
- Turn off your Nook Color.
- Remove the SD card and insert it into your computer card reader.
- Open the WinImage program.
- Select Disk --> "Creating Virtual Hard Disk image from physical drive..."
- Pick your SD card at the prompt.
- Save the image as an "*.ima" file to your local computer.
- After the image is saved, you'll be able to browse the partitions in WinImage - just ignore this and shut it down.
To restore the image to a new SD card, follow these steps:
- Pop in a new SD card of the same size (or larger).
- Open the WinImage program.
- Select Disk --> "Restore Virtual Hard Disk image on physical drive..."
- Pick your new SD card at the prompt.
- The image will save to the SD card - when you pop it into your Nook Color and boot up, everything should be the same as it was when you backed up the initial SD card.
Update: The Cyanogen website has a very nice tutorial that some people may find a little more clear-cut than my own rambling videos. Check it out here.