Android Rooting

I have a love/hate relationship with Android.

Clearly, Android has the superior platform, being customizable and being based off the Linux kernel. But it lacks uniform stability and is clustered among vendors. I’m not saying that individuality is a bad thing, what I’m saying is that Android means different things to different people, because they all have a different subset of stock applications and other things. It’s almost like the market of Linux distributions, except that I have even less control.

Apple has the superior hand here since they have control of all iPhones and can therefore enforce updates without some vendor’s permission. But in this post I don’t want to continue ranting about what mobile platform is superior, I want to show a great strength of Android, rooting.

For a while now I have owned an HTC One M8 and have continued to struggle with Android. Then, after some disputes with HTC’s bloatware, and the fact that the Marshmallow update was delayed for so long, I decided to take matters into my own hands and root my phone, to scrap the last bits of my money’s worth. These are my experiences.

My HTC One M8 has become slow as a turtle in the last months. For example, there was a certain delay when switching applications. Sometimes the camera app would freeze also. Furthermore I deliberately wanted to install Android Marshmallow but found out that HTC was lagging behind on updating. Also, everyone was already updated to the latest versions with me still falling behind. I felt like I was the only one not invited to the cool kids’ Android club, so I wanted to change that.

The rooting process was in itself not hard at all. The instructions were clearly written and the adb syntax was easy to follow. It felt like the first time I installed Linux manually. With every click, with every command you feel the internal pain increasing, the chance of death arising until you finally escape “root hell”. But rooting brought a lot of benefits. I enjoyed using Tor on my phone, so I could visit certain websites while still being to my school’s WiFi and many other things.

When it came to actually flashing a custom ROM, I got stuck on this S-OFF issue on HTC phones. S-OFF is a sort of security feature that protects your system memory from being overwritten. Turns out someone made a tool that uses an exploit to disable S-OFF so I could bypass the check. Unfortunately they would charge me a one-time payment of 20 Euros. I scrapped the entire internet of information but found that other exploits weren’t working anymore. With a slight feeling of penitence, I payed. I told myself that it was still better than buying a new phone. (Damn you HTC!)

After I installed CM13, my phone began to feel snappy again. Using the phone felt like flying again instead of miserably paddling around. The ability to customize each individual part of your phone is an awesome feature of CM13.

To conclude with an argument, my favor of Android has increased a slight bit, but I felt like I cheated against Apple. Of course, the idea of rooting was never intended in the first place. And because of that, my views of Android haven’t really changed. If I have to install a new operating system, which not an easy task to execute for the common user, then there is something wrong with the product.