Flashing Nexus 5 with the Cataclysm 5.1.1 ROM

I’ve had my Nexus 5 for almost a year now and as always with technology, I’m starting to get bored of the stock Android feel. After doing a bit of research in to the many different Android ROMs available for the Nexus 5, I thought I would go ahead and give the Cataclysm 5.1 ROM a try. It has a lot of positive reviews and is very close (in terms of UI) to the stock Android experience which is always a plus.

In this short article I will go through a step-by-step approach as to how I went about replacing my stock Nexus 5 Lollipop with the Cataclysm 5.1.1 ROM.

Things you need to download

  • First download the ROM – as of this post, the latest thread and ROM version is 5.1.1 and can be found on the XDA forums.
  • TWRP allows you to flash the custom ROM after unlocking the bootloader (it’s like a recovery mode manager/utility)
  • You’ll also need the Android SDK. I downloaded the entire Android studio package but you don’t have to do that
  • Download the Google USB drivers for Windows – I found that the driver installed with the SDK manager did not work for me (maybe because I am using Windows 10?)
    To install the Google USB drivers follow these steps:
  1. Extract the Google USB drivers for Windows .zip
  2. Connect the phone to your machine
  3. Open up device manager – if you see the Nexus 5 listed with a yellow exclamation then right click it and update drivers
  4. Browse for the driver and point to the location where you extracted the .zip file above
  5. Click Next and install the Google USB driver
  6. Disconnect and reconnect the device – you shouldn’t see the device with the yellow exclamation anymore.

Backup your device first

My stock Nexus 5 is running a locked bootloader so first I need to unlock the bootloader. To do this, the phone needs to be wiped. Before I wipe the phone, I will want to back it up (pictures, app settings, etc).

  1. Connect the phone to your PC
  2. On the phone, go to settings –> developer options –> turn on USB debugging (to turn on developer options go to Settings –> About and keep tapping the build number until a prompt appears)
  3. Open up a command prompt window and type the following
    cd %localappdata%\android\sdk\platform-tools
  4. Now type in adb devices – you should see your device listed here. If not, ensure you have USB debugging turned on and you installed the Google USB drivers as mentioned above. If you can see your device listed here, proceed to step 5
  5. in the command prompt window, type the below to backup the sdcard and shared storage partitions – alternatively, visit this page for different backup options. Note that depending on what you are backing up and how large the partitions, this could take a while so grab a Kit Kat and take a stroll (mine took about 30-45 minutesto backup 5GB worth of media)
    adb backup -noapk -shared -nosystem

Unlocking the bootloader

  1. Leave USB debugging turned on and turn off the device
  2. Hold the volume down and power button to boot the device in to configuration/recovery mode
  3. Enter the command below to unlock the bootloader. WARNING: This will wipe all data on the device – this is why taking a backup is important

    fastboot oem unlock
  4. Enter the below to reboot the device
    fastboot reboot

    The phone will factory reset it self at this point so it may take a few minutes to boot up. Be patient!

Copying the ROM on to the device’s internal storage

  1. Complete the Android set-up (after unlocking the bootloader the phone will factory reset and you will be presented with the default Android set-up screen) – you can skip all the settings as there is no point linking your Google accounts, etc
  2. In Computer you should see the Nexus 5 show up as an external/media device. Double click and go in to the internal storage. Copy the ROM file to the root of the internal storage – as of this post, the latest version of the ROM is 5.1.1 with the file name Cataclysm-Jun_20_2015-HAMMERHEAD-Lollipop-5.1.1_r3_Stable

Installing the image recovery tool – TWRP

TWRP allows you to flash the custom ROM to the device.

  1. Turn on USB debugging mode
  2. Turn the device off and back in to config/recovery mode by holding the volume down and power buttons together
  3. Enter the command below to flashTWRP to the device – note that the below file is the latest as of this post, is for the Nexus 5 and is stored in the %localappdata%\android\sdk\platform-tools directory.
    fastboot flash recovery twrp-

    Now select Recovery mode

  4. You will be presented with the Team Win Recovery Project screen

Flashing the ROM

  1. Select Wipe –> Swipe to wipe
  2. Select Install –> browse to /sdcard and select the custom ROM (the name in this case is Cataclysm-Jun_20_2015-HAMMERHEAD-Lollipop-5.1.1_r3_Stable)
  3. Swipe to confirm flash
  4. You will now be presented with a Firmware Upgrade wizard – I selected the Default apps however feel free to customise your setup.
    It will take only a minute or two to flash the ROM so don’t be surprised if you see the finish prompt before you set your eyes off the screen
  5. Swipe to unlock
  6. Select the option to Wipe cache/davlik
  7. Reboot the system – this will take a while so grab a Twix or something and come back in 10 minutes
  8. Done! You now have the Cataclysm ROM installed on your device. Go through the set-up and enjoy the new lease of life bestowed upon your device 🙂