Root on Android

I get some questions here on the site about what is the root user on Android. Many readers are interested in enabling root on the phone but are afraid of losing the warranty or doing something illegal.

Even if you search for specific applications in the Market, you’ll find that some of them(the cool ones) need a”rooted device,” that is, root-enabled.

Root is what we call”superuser”. In Linux we also have the root user who is the user that can do everything in the system. In the Android phone the root access is used to do something similar. Root on Android allows system folders to be accessed and you can modify the operating system of the device including functions or changing previously restricted settings.

In Android, root allows you to overclock your phone, install an application to distribute 3G internet over Wi-Fi (tethering), and upgrade the operating system to a newer version, even if it’s unofficial.

Root on Android

Now, do you”roote” the device and lose the warranty? This is a very controversial issue but if it is analyzed from the technical point of view, it makes sense for the guarantee to be lost. When buying the unit you are subject to the rules of the terms of use. By using certain functions only allowed to the root user, you can end up physically damaging your device, which will invalidate the warranty as if it were a”misuse” of the product. So I recommend caution regarding”put root access” on your Android phone. Even if you put it take great care in how you will use it. Be prepared to have a headache if the service department does not accept that your device is still under warranty.

In the United States the jailbreak on the iPhone(process similar to Android’s root) has gone through similar doubt, and was considered legal. Here in Brazil there has not yet been an official decision in this regard.

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