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Does anyone really need to root Android?

Link to this post 07 Dec 10

With the advent of apps like x4root, rooting has become very easy and reversible on the Android platform. With the danger of loosing the manufactures warranty, and the errant chance that still exists to brick your phone, is rooting a worthwhile adventure?

I've had my Droid 2 running Froyo for a little over a month now, and while I haven't tried all the advance features that I may want to use the phone for, I still don't see a need to experiment with rooting it.

I use the phone for my many e-mail accounts, it's actually easier to keep up with them on the Droid then if ever did using a desktop or laptop. I also use it while performing my moderator duties here at Linux.com, I watch my stock trades and also keep up with the news feeds. Add to that, I've just found Angry Birds and enjoy reading the front page of Reddit.

I must admit, when your using the phone as much as I do, one needs to keep a second battery charged up as a backup, because, the battery life on the phone is limited. I've heard that rooting the phone, possible using a custom ROM and getting rid of the stock energy using apps and processes increase the battery life, but, does it really increase time it takes to drain a battery enough that I won't have to carry around the spare? I'm not so sure.

There seem to be apps that allow tethering (although I haven't even experimented with tethering since the capabilities of Android replace the laptop that I use to carry around), and apps that allow the creation of a VPN (which I thought would need root permissions), so, I'm still debating whether rooting the phone is even worth it.

Some advantages to rooting, which I may see being worth the gamble, would be in the way File Management and Menu structure is handled. I've been finding work arounds using the Folder Organizer app, but, I still can't find a real solution to hiding the crapware that came with the phone, or, categorizing my Contacts like I did with the Palm Treo, since Google sees contacts as everything from phone numbers to email addresses, and they're all grouped together (it's only been a month, I still may be missing features that I've yet to discover), but unless one roots, you can't delete or hide apps or contacts that are in the way.

Does anyone have experiences where they're able to perform tasks after rooting that they weren't able to on an unrooted Android phone? How about battery life? Does rooting and/or the use of a third party ROM really extend the life of the battery to the extent that heavy use doesn't require more than one charge per day? I'm starting to think that all the excitement about the ability to root may be more about the challenge and the freedom, but not necessarily the increase in functionality.

What do you think? I'd like to hear what Linux users think when their access to root is restricted. Does it really make that much of a difference?

Link to this post 07 Dec 10

I am using an unrooted nexus one and have friends who have rooted various provider based phones.

With the Nexus one being pure google and lacking a lot of the manufacturer and provider based widgets and apps it does in fact have much improved speed, battery life and functionality compared to the other phones.

The advantaged I have seen to rooting the phones to running images closer to the pure google image are improving the battery life, minimizing the running image, getting free tethering, getting free wifi access-point settings and getting away of some of the sometimes unstable provider based apps. However the drawbacks are no support, voiding the warranty and risking a hardware failure.

So if you can afford to replace the phone when something goes wrong then in my point of view it can be well worth rooting when you are a power user. But with the UI redevelopment announced by google with 2.3 which is supposed to limit the need for other companies to modify the core image that may all change starting when 2.3 starts being shipped.

Link to this post 08 Dec 10

Well ... I do worry a about bricking the phone, but, there is that potential that's untaped. 2.3 should be along soon, I may just let myself get a bit more comfortable with the stock phone and wait to see what 2.3 has to offer before exploring deeper. So far it's been very interesting.

Link to this post 08 Dec 10

I have a Droid Incredible and have had it rooted since Mid-June. I've used it to get rid of verizon apps, run custom kernels to save battery, and to run a custom rom that does what I need it to do. I also upgraded to 2.2 well before it came out for my phone. Now, rooting isn't right for everyone, but I like the extra things it allows me to do and I enjoy having full control over my phone.

Link to this post 09 Dec 10

@Mike
Thanks for the post. It's encouraging to hear that someone not only has success but says it's an advantage.
When you say that a custom kernel saves battery, how much more time are you getting than with the stock kernel? I read different things, was the difference that significant?
Also, if it's possible, can you explain what things a custom rom is allowing you to do that the stock rom doesn't. I understand that getting rid of the stock Verizon crapware is a bother, and, I would be glad to get rid of it, but, are there low-level system adjustments that the custom rom allows? I mean, besides those things that would just require root access. Are there capabilities that open up when using a custom rom?

Edit: What I would really love to have a link to would be a comparison of different roms, listing their features and drawbacks. I haven't come across a chart like that yet.

Link to this post 09 Dec 10

Goineasy9 wrote:

@Mike
Thanks for the post. It's encouraging to hear that someone not only has success but says it's an advantage.
When you say that a custom kernel saves battery, how much more time are you getting than with the stock kernel? I read different things, was the difference that significant?
Also, if it's possible, can you explain what things a custom rom is allowing you to do that the stock rom doesn't. I understand that getting rid of the stock Verizon crapware is a bother, and, I would be glad to get rid of it, but, are there low-level system adjustments that the custom rom allows? I mean, besides those things that would just require root access. Are there capabilities that open up when using a custom rom?

Edit: What I would really love to have a link to would be a comparison of different roms, listing their features and drawbacks. I haven't come across a chart like that yet.

Well when I updated my phone to the custom ROM I'm on now, (Virtuous 3.1), I upgraded my phone from 2.1 to 2.2. That alone will bring a good battery increase, but the kernel also undervolts the processor. I've gone from my phone dying around 6pm, to lasting until around midnight (or later depending on when I take it off the charger).

Custom ROMs have a few advantages besides just removing bloatware. There are certain apps that can only be run on a rooted phone such as an ad remover, and a wireless tether that works really well. It also used to be the only way to use your phone as a flashlight, but that's changed since 2.2 came out. Other apps, like Titanium Backup which allow you to back up every app on your phone are also only available on rooted phone.

The custom ROM I use uses HTC Sense, but you can download ROMs that use the regular Android GUI and you can get custom Themes for your phone which is cool.

I don't know any links to comparisons, but a good place to look is phandroid and xda-delopers.

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