Disclaimer: This article does not contain any instructions on how to root or flash your phone. If that’s what you seek I am sorry to tell you that these are not the droids you’re looking for.
This is just the story of my venture to upgrade my phone.

I am quite happy to own an Android powered smartphone, the HTC Magic.
Right from the start I was pretty happy with it, especially having unlimited data transfer on my plan, which I think is important if you really want to use what your smartphone has to offer.

But after some time I started getting a bit anxious if there’d ever be an official update, that would rid my phone of the quite dated Android 1.5, especially since Android 2 was said to have better performance and Kindle for Android requiring at least Android 1.6.

Therefore I recently decided to kick out the official system and upgrade to the well-known cyanogenmod.

The first step in this venture was getting root permissions. Apparently the method differs on different versions of my phone, so I took my time reading various sites on flashing the HTC Magic.
I don’t remember the name of the tool, but all I had to do was install some package and click a button.

After I managed that I installed ROM Manager from the market, which, as I had read, is supposed to make flashing your phone really easy.
Of course things did not work as expected, the backup failed, so I decided not to flash my ROM quite yet, even though I had read that you can still get into the bootloader and the recovery image even if the system has been flashbanged.

More reading followed, through which I found out that I do not only need to flash a new recovery image, but also a new bootloader, which, unlike flashing the recovery image is not part of ROM Manager’s functions.
So I did that, and suddenly the backup worked.

After successfully backing up my precious system and all my data I went ahead and flashed cyanogenmod 6.0.
It didn’t boot.

What followed was a day of trying to unbrick my phone. Accessing my phone via USB using fastboot and adb.
I ended up with a new bootloader, downgraded radio firmware and new recovery image.
Still it did not work.

Wanting to get my phone back running I figured it wouldn’t harm giving cyanogenmod 6.1 rc1 a try, initially without success. Afterwards, as some sort of final attempt, I installed the EBI1 version of cyanogenmod 6.1 rc1, and finally my phone was alive again.

Android 2.2.1 started up and I started repopulating my phone with applications. I didn’t bother with restoring any data from the backup, and thus found that on my original system contacts were apparently not propely synced to GMail, which resulted in losing most phone numbers and a few email addresses.

By now cyanogenmod 6.1 has been released, and that upgrade was a lot easier now once everything is done. ROM Manager finally can do its job.

The result of the ordeal is that I have learned quite a bit about my phone, the Android SDK and Android in general. And, of course, I finally got rid of Android 1.5 in favor of Android 2.2.1.
While the former already made it all worthwhile, the latter was what I wanted.

From the time I have now spent with cyanogenmod and Android 2 I am really happy. Performance feels a lot better, especially in low memory situations, which are quite common if you run a couple of things that do their magic in the background while you do your regular stuff in the foreground.
And finally my contacts are synchronized properly, so next time I decide to flash my phone I don’t need to worry about losing my numbers again.

To sum it all up I can only recommend to anyone stuck on an outdated version to look for instructions on how to upgrade your phone. As you see from my own experience an Android phone seems to quite resistent to permanent bricking. You just gotta keep your cool and figure things out.

Thank you!
Dennis Wronka