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To root or not to root…thats indeed a question!

The geeks will tell you that the best way to get the most out of your android is to root it. The operators and Google might just tell you otherwise. Ask your friends and they will give a million opinions skewed by the level of their expertise and experience. So is this rooting business really that good? Lets list down some stuff that will help you decide…for yourself.!

What is rooting?

Android, is build upon the almighty linux kernel. The applications run on top of a virtual machine called “Dalvik”, which is a tweaked (and cooler than oracles ;) ) version of the Java Virtual Machine. So like all other linux operating systems, the android’s has a root account. For those of you who dont know what that means; the root account is the administrator’s account for a linux OS. Just like you login as Administrator, or run as Administrator in Windows, you do that with “root” in linux.
In the stock android you get from the manufacturor, this root account is locked to the user. Thus, you can’t use it. (Prisioner of your own device ;) ) Rooting, is the process of making that account available for apps, and for you.

How is it done?

Rooting is done by exploiting loopholes in the system and mechanisms placed to block you from gaining access. Exactly how? That level of expertise escape my brain. (I’m a minion, not the boss ;) papoi…). There are popular software which do it. I personally have used a software called SuperOneClick. It does what it says, one click root!

 

Is it good?

Rooting can bring you the riches of the (android) world. But it does not mean that its all good.

 

Pros

  • Using great apps

Rooting your device will enable you to use applications which use the root capability and perform great utility tasks. e.g.: moving apps to the sd card, even if your native android does not allow you to do so. You can even get the ability to replace system apps.

 

  • Removing bloatware

OEMs pack a handful of bloatware in the device. And if your phone is an operator branded phone, you will have useless apps from the operator installed, which the OS does not let you uninstall.! Well, death to the bloaters with root! You can hand pick these apps from the device and remove the cancers right  from the source, the filesystem!

 

  • You can install custom ROMs.

This is the main reason most people root the device for. A ROM is the actual operating system of the device. You can install customized versions, which use either cyanogenmod or MiUI as the base. The functions which these offer are vast, and these are open source developments. Which mean there are some very advanced features which are not with the OEM do not offer. (Tip: Even Google sometimes ‘burrow’ features from CM). You can use android versions which are well above the specified limit by the manufacturer. (I used to run 2.3.7 on a device which SonyEricsson only did 2.1)

And there may be many more reasons…

 

Cons

  • Risk to the device

When you root your device using a software like superoneclick, the risk of damaging the device is less. But there are methods which require you to alter the existing firmware before rooting. Some Samsung devices need to do that in order to root. So if you don’t follow the right instructions and get into trouble, you device may come to an irrecoverable state, nicknamed “bricked”.

There are two bricked states; soft-brick or hard-brick. Soft brick is where a software glitch has crashed the phone and there may be a way to recover it using some other software. Hard-brick is when you kill the beast for good! There are no methods to recover the phone.

 

  • Risk of running root

If your device is rooted, a root controller app will ask you each time an application wants to run as root. But there might be loopholes in those apps, and there might even be cases where you set up an “allow root for all” rule. If some malicious app gets installed, it can get the full privileges of your phone. I’ll let your imagination run wild to figure out what happens when the admin account gets to the wrong hands.

 

On final thoughts, rooting might not be for the faint of heart, it might require you to do things that are risky in terms of the device. And people who don’t get whats what in android, should not root for the sake of doing the wrong stuff.

So should you root? totally up to you.

P.S. you might find guides and applications on how to do it on xda-developers.com

Make sure you READ EVERYTHING before acting!