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and why can't I see an option to boot into recovery mode on my HTC Hero (Orange UK)? Is it already in recovery mode when I can see the Fastboot/HBoot menu?

Initial menu after holding vol-down when booting:

Initial menu after holding vol-down when booting
Initial menu after holding vol-down when booting (click image to enlarge)

If I press back, I get the following screen:

Screenshot
(Click image to enlarge)

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Where are you looking for the option to boot into your recovery? –  eldarerathis Sep 13 '11 at 20:05
    
I thought I might see it as an option on the skateboard screen. –  Andy Joiner Sep 13 '11 at 20:21
    
Do you have Bootloader as an option on your HBoot menu? When I select that on my EVO (it's the first choice) it takes me to another menu, which has Fastboot, Recovery, and a couple of other things to select. Choosing Recovery on the second screen would be what you want. –  eldarerathis Sep 13 '11 at 20:27
    
Do you know what partition(s) the skateboard screen loads from? (boot? boot+system? ) –  Andy Joiner Sep 13 '11 at 21:25
    
I'm not sure where it lives, actually. I don't think it's on either of those, though, since I've overwritten both without modifying my HBoot at all. Yours is definitely different than my EVO's, too. On what would be the equivalent of your first screenshot I have four options to choose from. I also have an "engineering" version of HBoot, but I don't know if that would add extra menu items or not. –  eldarerathis Sep 13 '11 at 21:28

1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

"HBoot" mode is something of a misnomer, really, that I usually see when people mean "reboot into your HBoot menu". I think the reason these got conflated to each other is because Fastboot mode activates by default when you land on HBoot on most (possibly all) HTC phones. They do exist separately, though, as devices without an HBoot menu can still have a fastboot mode. This is definitely a little confusing, though, since what's really happening is that you're getting rebooted into HBoot which is then immediately loading Fastboot. You should be able to get to the bootloader's main screen by selecting Bootloader from the Fastboot screen.

Essentially, though, HBoot is just a bootloader, which gives you the ability to chain-boot into several other partitions or modes (including fasboot). I say it's not really a "mode" because it doesn't really allow for any interaction, it just loads and waits for you to choose something else from the menu (with one exception, see below).

HBoot also has the ability to install a properly named and signed zip file if placed on the root of your SD card, which it will attempt to do right after the bootloader has fully loaded. This seems to have been designed as a sort of last-ditch reflash method, and used to be a part of several manual rooting methods on HTC phones (which is now largely unnecessary). The exact naming convention depends on your device, but they're usually of the form PC[some number]IMG.zip.

Fastboot mode is the state your device goes into so that it can accept fastboot commands, which largely deal with manually flashing partitions on the device. Notably, you can flash unsigned partition images when in fastboot. It's handy for recovery purposes, but also useful for development and generally hacking around (depending on what you're doing). You can read a bit about the details of fastboot here.

Your "recovery mode" (or recovery partition) is different from HBoot. It is a separate partition on your device which contains a very basic kernel and GUI that can be used to repair and/or restore your system, with the features varying depending on the exact recovery you are using. Typically a manufacturer will ship their devices with their own "stock" recovery, but there are many custom ones available which are more robust. There is a related Android Enthusiasts question which also discusses this.

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