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It’s not “rooting,” it’s openness

-- Nick Kralevich, Android security engineer

There's a bit of brouhaha on the Internet today about the Samsung Galaxy Nexus being "rooted."  While I applaud the gentlemen who take the time to build binaries needed to flash the superuser/switchuser files to the GNexus, I think it's more important to re-visit something from the past.  Namely, you don't need to exploit a Nexus device to root it.  The tools to unlock the potential of a Nexus phone are included, so pushing new software that allows more access to the system isn't really a surprise.  Hopefully, someone can go further with this access and do something that does surprise us. 

Mr. O'Brien, I tip my hat to you for taking the time to build your superboot image.  Most users wouldn't take the time needed to learn how do it, and you've provided the easy path for them.  Now there's no excuse for anyone with a GNexus to not jump in feet first and see what Android can do when given the proper tools, and openness.

More: MoDaCo


Reader comments

Samsung Galaxy Nexus gets 'opened'


As someone who loves android, but does not know enough about it to ever root their phone, what am I missing. I thought the main reason to root was to remove the lock downs by the manufacurer and the provider. I thought the Nexus phones already removed these limitations. I guess I am missing a key issue when it comes to the Nexus phones, though I still plan on buying one as ICS looks "AMAZING!!!" to say the least.


I don't get whats so great about rooting your phone or jail breaking it either? So what its open now who cares. About the only useful thing I can see is free tethering, but I thought I read they are breaking down on that somewhat.

To make backups of your apps. When you switch to a different rom, you can take all of your game saves/wifi settings/misc. app data to the new rom.

Change System themes, battery icons, change notification icons.

There are a few advantages to rooting, namely that you can install more powerful apps that can, for example, do a complete backup of your system, overclock or underclock your processor, tweak settings such as system DPI, remotely control your phone, and do any number of system-level customizations.

Some carriers here in the US are cracking down *somewhat* on the free tethering bit. But rooting is more than that.
For those of us with 2 year contracts and sub-high-end phones rooting (and more specifically the devs) are a life saver. Support in the dev community usually lasts a LOT longer than support given by the carrier/manufacturer. For instance, I currently have a Samsung Moment on Sprint. Sprint EOL'd the Moment about a year ago and stopped giving updates a few months before that. We were stuck on 2.1. But thanks to the devs at SDX, we now have fully functioning 2.2 ports from the Samsung Intercept/Transform and a somewhat working 2.3 built from various sources. People who are rooted generally have access to newer versions of Android quicker than from "official" sources.
Not to mention the fact that with root, you can truly make the phone yours. Don't want all the carrier crapware that's thrown on there wasting your storage space and memory? You can delete it. Want an HTC phone, but don't like Sense? There's usually an AOSP rom floating somewhere out there. Want to install more apps than your phone was designed to? With root, and a few other software modifications you can do that. There's TONS of great things about rooting! :)

Rooting your phone and loading different ROMS on there is basically like re-loading a new version of Windows on your desktop or laptop after a while. You can clean out the generic bundled software that you don't want or need, and you can reduce the footprint of the software loaded - the system will run for the most part more efficiently in the end.

It's sometimes night and day between stock software and streamlined ROM that you load yourself. Remember, they're more than just "phones", they're really portable computers! And if it's a portable computer, you should have more latitude to customize how you interact with that computer.

Maybe someone could get access to the clock distribution chip in the device, and modify the clock rate so that it doesn't generate massive RF crosstalk and victimize the volume control comparator inputs.

I agree, it must be the way they do their EMI testing. They also might have production differences between the one they EMI test and the one that actually gets shipped. What do you think?

Could this be the reason why it's been delayed on Verizon and every other carrier outside the US has it? Maybe Verizon is pushing back on Google asking for it to be locked down and Google isn't budging?

I highly doubt Verizon just noticed the Nexus was an open device. The delay is more likely due to the fact that the Verizon model is a completely different hardware version using completely different RF technologies, and possibly the fact they are trying to sell the crappy RAZR without too much competition from the inside.

I own a Razr and it is far from crappy and probably one of the best Droid phones I've own so far. Before taking a dump on a product, use it (and i don't mean play with it in the store display) before passing judgement otherwise just keep your crappy comments to yourself.

Long time listener, first time caller. Love the show. Stupid question: what are implications for warranty when rooting/"opening"/whatever one will do to the SGN/Prime? (Let's keep it clean boys, family show & all...)