In a previous article I showed you how to root your Nook Color, which allows you to do things like install the full Android Market and run applications that were excluded from the Barnes & Noble version of the app store. As a word of caution, performing the update to CyanogenMod will cause your Nook Color to be unable to use the Barnes & Noble eBook reader features, so if those features are important to you, do not proceed. If you haven’t performed any of those steps, you will want to take a look at how to root your Nook Color before proceeding with the steps here, particularly the part about configuring ClockworkMod.
Assuming you’ve completed the steps to root your Nook Color, you can follow the steps below to install CyanogenMod on your Nook Color, which gives you Android 2.3.3 (or Gingerbread). I take the additional step of configuring the kernel to overclock the processor, which improves software performance a bit, but that’s optional.
Before you begin, make sure you have a microSD card with ClockworkMod installed, so you can copy the required components of CyanogenMod over to the microSD card. The section of the article on rooting your Nook Color titled Preparing your microSD card includes the steps to get you started.
CyanogenMod 7 for Nook Color is the ROM you will be installing on your Nook. While there are other options, I highly recommend going with the most recent stable build.
Google Apps are necessary if you want the bundle of Google Android apps, including Gmail, YouTube, and Google Talk. If you are installing CyanogenMod 7, look for gapps-gb-20110613-signed.zip
Dalingrin overclocked kernel – this is the kernel update that allows you to overclock your Nook Color. If you are installing directly on your Nook Color, make sure to use the emmc version of the file. There are newer versions of the kernel than the update-CM7-dalingrin-OC-emmc-042411ext4.zip file linked here, but I was not successful in making those work, so I stuck with this older one that does seem to work.
Preparing to Install CyanogenMod
Once you have all the .zip files, it’s time to prepare your microSD card. Assuming you followed the steps to install ClockworkMod on your microSD, preparing the card is easy. You simply copy the .zip files from your computer to the card.
Power down your Nook Color and insert the microSD card in the card slot on the Nook. Power on your Nook Color and wait for it to boot to ClockworkMod. Before you install the actual files, you need to do two housekeeping items first.
Browse the menu to Mounts and storage, then choose format /system. Repeat this step and choose format /cache. In each case, you will need to confirm the format by choosing Yes from a long list of No menu items. Remember that the volume up/down buttons allow you to navigate the menu and the home button selects the item.
Once both formats are complete, you are ready to do the upgrade. Choose Install zip from SDcard from the menu. On the next screen, choose zip from SDcard. You need to install CyanogenMod first. This will likely be a file named update-cm-7.0.3-encore-signed.zip, unless you have a newer version. Here again, you choose Yes from a list of No options. After the ROM install completes, install the gapps-gb-20110613-signed.zip file. Finally, install the Dalingrin overclocked kernel. The kernel I used was update-CM7-dalingrin-OC-emmc-042411ext4.zip.
When all updates are installed, remove the microSD card and reboot. You should see the blue CyanogenMod 7 Android logo shortly after the Read Forever tagline appears on the screen. If the boot process gets stuck the first time, shut it down and try again; in my repeating of the install, I had to restart twice before I got CyanogenMod to boot completely.
When your update completes, the first time you boot you will be asked which of the Google apps you want to install. Among the things you will notice about CyanogenMod are improved battery life over the version of Froyo that Barnes & Noble installs by default. If you go to the system settings, you can overclock the processor under the CyanogenMod settings (which I show in the video below). And of course, you have all the available Android features. One annoyance in this process is that CyanogenMod thinks the Nook Color is a phone, so you have useless phone features, including wasting needless battery cycles on looking for the cell phone network. I’ll take that minor inconvenience, because CyanogenMod runs smoothly, lets me install the apps I want, and makes the Nook Color a delightful 7-inch tablet experience.
I highly recommend watching the video below to see these steps before attempting them on your own device.