Also, if you've read this blog in the past, you know I'm a big fan of running custom ROMs as well. So it only took about 30 minutes of getting it before I was working on installing CyanogenMod. It was a little more difficult than I remember... It had been a while since I had gotten to play with an Android but it didn't take long for it to all come back to me. I finally got it loaded up with CyanogenMod 10.1.3. Even though this is a bit of an older handset it is still, in my opinion, one of the best on the market. The S3 and S4 are obviously better but I will still put the S2 in the top 10 Android phones out right now.
CyanogenMod is just as awesome as I remember. The differences between it and the stock AT&T release are striking. AT&T is notorious for loading their phones with bloatware. A quick root and the installation of a custom ROM take care of all of this. Of them all, CyanogenMod is one of the sleekest as far as size. They keep things very light and fast with a minimum of "extras". However, everything you need is included right there, built in. The need for additional apps to do basic tasks is low. Even the performance enhancements that used to require an additional, usually paid, app are gone. You can adjust your CPU clock right there on the fly in the settings menu.
I'm not going to go into a ton of detail on CyanogenMod or the Galaxy S2. They are both subjects that have been beat to death online. They've both been out for long enough that if you have a question, someone out there has already answered it. That is another reason I am a bit of a fan of using what is considered by most to be an "older" handset. If it breaks? Someone else has already broken it the same way and posted a very detailed step-by-step on how to fix it. I can't count the number of times that I have had an issue and within minutes had the issue resolved with a simple Google search.
Which brings me to my last point... Don't expect a custom ROM to be perfect. There will always be bugs. When I first installed CM 10.1.3 onto the Galaxy S2, my MMS messages would not send or receive. After a quick Google search I popped into Root Browser, deleted a file, rebooted the phone and everything was working properly. Just don't get frustrated if everything doesn't work right out of the box. Play around with it, find something that doesn't work, and just Google it. Or head over to XDA. That is a community that definitely has it all figured out.