So I downloaded the ROM I want and everything else that goes with it... now what?
Well now you are ready to flash. If you do not know how to do that, read my guide on how to properly flash a ROM on your phone
. This guide is how I flash ROMs on my device and has been the way I have been doing it for a long time. The tried and true method. Can I use an app like Recovery Manager to flash a ROM?
You can, but I would recommend against it. When you use an app like Recovery manager you are adding another unnecessary step in the flashing process. I will always recommend that you lean the recovery process manually. Yes it may take longer but in the end it will probably save you headaches and stress. It is much safer to flash a ROM using your custom recovery over an app. I can't make up your mind for you, but know this. [HL]If you brick your phone, recovery manager wont be able to help you.[/HL] You will need to know how to use a manual recovery to restore a backup or fix a flash that went wrong. I want Jelly Bean, but I don't want an unstable ROM. Do I have options?
Yes and no. This will all come down to what you consider stable. Personally, I have found that the latest builds of CM10 wether it be Official or JellyBro to be stable and provide an excellent Jelly Bean experience. Certain feature are missing yes (NFC) but all of the basic functions work perfectly fine and it is very fast. If you define stable as everything has to work perfectly, then no this isn't for you.
My honest recommendation is this. If you need your phone working 100% of time for work or emergency purposes then I would stick with an ICS/TW based ROM for the time being until CM10 gets a release candidate build. While I have no issues running CM10, some other might. If you are unsure, make a back up of whatever ROM you want to use a your daily driver and then flash CM10. If you find that its too buggy for you or something isn't working right then just restore your back up. Simple as that. I hear about flashing Kernels. What's that about?
Kernels are something that I wouldn't recommend you play around with if this is your first rodeo to the flashing world. However, if you are feeling good and want to give it a shot you have to look at the different types out there. There are two kernel types, just like ROMs and they will only work with the ones they are built for. You can't put an AOSP kernel on a ICS/TW ROM. This is all explained in my flashing guide
. Doesn't flashing a ROM mean that all my stuff is going to get erased?
It doesn't necessarily mean that if you took the right steps to prepare. If you are on a stock rooted OS before you start this process you can use many apps like titanium backup to back up your apps so that it will be easier to restore them once you are back up and running. Titanium Backup needs root access so if you aren't rooted you are going to need to do that first. Use titanium backup to back up the apps you want be selecting them one by one or selecting them all. Once your done flashing and you are back up and running you can restore your apps.
[WARN]Do no restore app DATA. When you go to restore, on top it will have three circle buttons and you have to select 1 of the 3. They will show show App+AppData, App Only, AppData Only. Select App Only. Restoring App Data on certain apps will cause instability and possible make the app unusable. You can use Data restore manually to restore data for games or apps of that nature. YOU NEVER WANT TO RESTORE DATA FOR SYSTEM APPLICATIONS. If you do that, bad things will happen.[/WARN]
For homescreen restores, you can use an app like Nova Launcher or Apex Launcher. This will allow you to backup your homescreen/drawer settings and easily restore them once you are back up as well. Will be as if you never flashing anything ;). How long will this whole process take start to finish?
That all depends on your experience. When I flash a ROM it takes me about 20 minutes to flash, restore and set everything back up to the way it was. I have flashed a lot of ROMs so I have a pattern down on how to get everything back up quick. If this is your first time, it may take you an hour or maybe even 2. Once you have to do it a couple times, it gets quicker and easier.