Responding to requests from users who want to install custom versions of the Android OS on their smartphones, HTC has decided to start shipping its devices with open bootloaders.
The bootloader is the very first thing that runs on a computer when it boots up, and is responsible for loading the operating system. If it’s “locked”, it can only be used with the system software that came with the device. An open bootloader, on the other hand, allows users to install custom versions.
The announcement of this change in policy came from Peter Chou, CEO of HTC: ”There has been overwhelmingly customer feedback that people want access to open bootloaders on HTC phones. I want you to know that we’ve listened. Today, I’m confirming we will no longer be locking the bootloaders on our devices. Thanks for your passion, support and patience.”
This is a thriving community of people who like to tinker with the operating system on their smartphone. A typical use for custom ROMs is to install an unofficial version of an OS upgrade before the official version is released, but that’s just one example. Some like to remove or add a custom user interface or make other changes.
Those who try to install a custom ROM on a device with a locked bootloader are generally setting themselves up for frustration. Results can vary from simple failure to “bricking” the device so that it becomes useless.