The most well-known and stable custom ROM, CyanogenMod, is finally nearing its formal Ice Cream Sandwich release, version number 9. The CM9 build will be a speedy minimalist build of Ice Cream Sandwich, with all of the usual and tasty Cyanogenmod tweaks.

The Cyanogenmod team has branched their mainline repositories, ready for the code freeze that leads to the eventual release of a new version. In an official blog post, the team said:

There are still a number of technical and organizational issues that need to be resolved very quickly, the plan is to quickly iterate through a series of release candidates over the next few weeks. We are still accepting contributions to the main branches, but from here until release day we will only be accepting bugfixes, device support, and translations into the release branch

The initial release is expected to cover a core subset of devices, later expanding to many more devices that the Cyanogenmod team considers ICS-capable, even if the manufacturers didn’t.

For those of you who have been using CM9’s nightly builds to enjoy the software as it progresses, the Cyanogenmod team says that the nightly builds will still come out along the main branch, so those of you who like to live on the bleeding edge will not miss out.

If you haven’t done it already, take a look at the new CM9 boot animation, featuring the project’s new mascot, “Cid”.

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