While some handset makers will update the software to their Android phones to fix security exploits in order to stop users from gaining root access, the Nexus line is made for those who would like to do just that. According to the Android Developers blog, the availability of root is not a result of compromised security, but the result of openness.
Just like the Nexus One, the Nexus S was rooted in the most simple of ways. All you need to do is hook the phone up, boot it into the bootloader, and run one simple line from a command prompt, “fastboot oem unlock”. TaDa! You’re done! This is much easier than jumping through hoops that some handsets make you do. And, for those who want to buy an Android phone and root it on the same day, the Nexus line should appeal to them for their very easy-to-root capabilities.
We do know that there are many one-click root solutions available for various devices, so the Nexus One and Nexus S are definitely not your only choices for devices that make it easy as pie to root. I’ve been enjoying a rooted G2 for some time now, but it sure took a while to get the thing permanently rooted.
So, if rooting isn’t the result of compromised security, what is it? The blog says this about rooting (emphasis ours):
The Nexus S, like the Nexus One before it, is designed to allow enthusiasts to install custom operating systems. Allowing your own boot image on a pure Nexus S is as simple as running
fastboot oem unlock. It should be no surprise that modifying the operating system can give you root access to your phone. Hopefully that’s just the beginning of the changes you might make…Rooting is not a feature of a device; rather, it is the active exploitation of a known security hole.
Sounds hazardous if you ask me, but at the same time, I’ve rooted almost every Android device I’ve ever come across and have nothing but praise to sing about that fact. Rooting an Android phone basically allows the user to unlock the full power of the OS, and there are just too many things to do with a rooted phone to not at least consider it. So while Google allows for rooting on their own devices, to get the best supported experience, you need to have a Nexus device, and do it the official way that big G provides. In theory, at least.
Unfortunately, until carriers and manufacturers provide an easy method to legitimately unlock devices, there will be a natural tension between the rooting and security communities.
This will be the sad truth for a long time coming, and while manufacturers should just be happy someone bought their device, it won’t stop them from trying to make it harder for people to gain full access to the OS. The carrier surely doesn’t want you to remove all the bloatware they have oh so thoughtfully put into our devices. As time goes on, and handset makers and carriers realize that their efforts will be undermined by users rooting their devices regardless of the impact, (potential brick, voiding of warranty), they will have to eventually cave and come up with a solution. Maybe. If you’ve purchased a phone and given two years of your life to a carrier, you should be able to do as you see fit with your phone, plain and simple.
Do you think that carriers and handset makers will eventually support rooting of Android phones sometime in the future, or will they remain stubborn and lock it down as much they can?