CyanogenMod 7 brings custom Gingerbread
The CyanogenMod project developers have now released, after four months of development, version 7.0 (CM7) of their custom Android firmware. The new release currently supports thirty devices and, according to project leader Cyanogen's release announcement, includes support for several tablets, such as the B&N Nook Color. There are also some features of version 6.x (CM6) which have not been integrated with CM7; Cyanogen says that these features are scheduled for 7.1.
CyanogenMod 7.0 (CM7) is based on the source code for Android 2.3 "Gingerbread" and features a number of changes. These include new boot animations, improvements to the status bar and notification icons, and updates to the CyanogenMod settings with options that allow, for example, users to move all of their applications to external storage (e.g. MicroSD) or adjust device performance by over-clocking the CPU. Full details of the update are available in the CHANGELOG.
The CyanogenMod project offers for a variety of Android phones free community-built custom ROMs that don't include Google's custom closed-source applications, such as Gmail, Google Maps and YouTube. The custom ROMs are popular as they are often more up-to-date than the official model-specific Android releases and typically will extend a phone's capabilities. To date, more than 81,000 devices have been registered running the custom firmware.
The developers recommend ROM Manager as the way to install CM7 and point to the project's wiki for details on how to "root" particular devices. The custom ROM is also available for manual download. The H reminds users that, as with all custom firmware, inexperienced users are not advised to flash their devices as they could unintentionally "brick" them, resulting in a complete loss of functionality.