Android Tablets - why don't they come with root access?


  1. vobguy

    vobguy Well-Known Member

    I understand why phones, especially ones sold through the carriers, would be locked down to some extent, since the phone is accessing their network and they are the ones who get the support calls.

    But that is not the case with most tablets, at least not the wifi models. You are accessing them through your own network or some other network.

    I mean, if I bought a PC and didn't have administrator, I would be rather put out.

    If I bought a unix box or linux box, I would be upset if I didn't get root access (though of course with a bootable CD/DVD its easy to mount the filesystem and edit /etc/passwd or /etc/shadow )

    So why is this accepted for android tablets? I mean we own the tablets outright, why not just provide root access to them?

    Can anyone share the thinking behind this, because it escapes me?

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  2. Yeahha

    Yeahha Usually off topic VIP Member

    The OEM UI is what seperates each OEM apart from the others. If out of the box they allowed the user to uninstall and change whatever they wanted the consumer would just look at hardware.

    Also not all users are going to be tech savvy enough to know to make a backup before deleting something like framework-res.apk so another part of it is to protect the consumer from themself.

    The only other reason I can think of is warranty.
  3. jerofld

    jerofld Fixing stuff is not easy VIP Member

    It's actually done for security purposes. The way Android works is that it's a Linux shell that runs a virtual machine (the dalvik one to be specific). The end user is not given root access out of the box because it kind of defeats the purpose of the VM isolation.

    Now, how far the OEM goes to make it so you can't root it is completely up to them. Like the Nexus line is rooted within 30 minutes of release, because Google insists on the bootloaders being unlocked. Motorola, on the other hand, likes to keep their bootloaders locked and aggressively patch root exploits.

    Also, root exploits can be utilized by malware to install apps that can use root access to either damage your phone or steal your information. So that is another reason why OEMs try to patch root exploits.

    I can only assume that OEMs just don't want customer complaints, where OEMs for linux boxes don't have to worry about malware nearly as much and every Windows user knows to get an anti-virus, so admin rights to them isn't nearly a big of a concern. Where a phone or a tablet? Major cause for concern. Especially given the visibility and popularity of them.
  4. mikedt

    mikedt 你好 Guide

    Maybe because you know what you're doing, and why you might need it.

    Many ordinary people(read non-geek) with Administrator access to their PCs, who don't really know what they're doing, they tend to screw them up and get into trouble. The 'Administrator' account was intended for well SysAdmins, i.e. people who know what they're doing when configuring PCs in a corporate environment. Stops the employees from messing with corporate PCs.

    At home you're the SysAdmin, so you better know what you're doing.


    Ordinary people like my sister just use their tablets as is, they're just appliances, tools for getting work done, they use them as they are, and certainly don't tinker with them. If a person has never heard of geekery like 'root access' and they don't know what it is, chances are they'll never need it.

    Myself I have a Galaxy S, I rooted it and changed the ROM to CM7, because I am a geek, I know what I'm doing and can appreciate what CM7 has to offer. But then I'm not changing the ROM every few days though or have multiple ROMs, I done it the once, it does what I want so I leave it alone now. I know a few people who have Android phones here, they're just happy to make phone calls, do messaging and play Angry Birds, same sort of thing for Android tablets. They're certainly not about to start worrying about gaining 'root access' to their phones and tablets.
  5. zuben el genub

    zuben el genub Well-Known Member

    They could allow you to strip out the "bloat". I can't see how deleting Facebook or any other such service would do anything to the OS. You can always get an apk to put it back.

    I've stripped half the crap from a PC. Including MS Office. The computer was intended for a special purpose and didn't need an Office Suite.

    I wouldn't mind getting a blank tablet in a store with a menu of goodies I could add as I see fit.
  6. chanchan05

    chanchan05 The Doctor Guide

    That however would defeat the whole purpose of competing with other OEMs. A Nexus line of tablets would be ideal i suppose.
  7. vobguy

    vobguy Well-Known Member

    But Android forces you to have root to do things like connect to a proper Cisco VPN with group authentication. That means if non technical people want to do some very simple things (like access a document from work), they have to (in extreme cases) risk bricking their device.

    And unfortunately I don't think ICS is going to make that any better. From what I hear they are going to have non-root Cisco AnyConnect, but that does not help with VPNs that use group authentication.

    And that is just one basically simple function that a regular non technical user might need, there are certainly others (like certain backup apps, for example)
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