Android – What is Root, Superuser & custom software?

I know Android is still a new thing in our country. Users who bought Android because they are either geeks, Linux gurus, adventurers, and explorers has passed. Now, Android is reaching a state where new users are following rather than doing their researches first. Credit goes to these people from the first group for making Android a known device and pull lots and lots of new members out of the iPoison and showed them a new adventure.

Now the new friends of ours try to speak the same language that we are speaking here. What we need to remember is, we had a tough journey in the beginning too – learning all the process and everything. If you say you rooted your device and it made your device look cool, they will start to immagine things. Things that you didn’t even explain. Its a fact. I get these questions everyday. No joke.

To those who still don’t have a clear picture, ROOT in our actual language means seniors, ancestors, or the point where everything starts. Without roots, plants will not grow, humans will not have kids, a system will not have an organization. That said, root is the top level of anything that has an organization. In Android, root is the top level of the directory. From root, the organization grows larger and you have folders, subfolders and files. Then what is ROOTING itself? Simple. Rooting refers to the process of obtaining the access to the root level. In Android, root level is not provided by default. There are many reasons for doing this. Among the most important reason is to block access to the paid applications directory. This prevents illegal distribution of the paid applications. That is why the controversy of whether root access should be granted by default or not is still being heavily discussed. However, in protecting root, we miss a whole lot of interesting stuff that can be done if we have root level directory. Once root access is obtained, the user can flash a custom recovery and even a custom ROM if the user knows how to compile one. This gives ultimate flexibility to the user to customize his device according to how he wants it to be. Obtaining root access has nothing to do with your device’s performance and what not. It only gives you access to everywhere in the device.

In order to obtain ROOT, you need SUPERUSER permissions. Superuser, in a way, is the god of the device. He has permissions to do EVERYTHING to the device – even brick it. To obtain superuser is the real challenge which our Android gurus Cyanogen, PaulOBrien, koush and others spend endless hours to obtain it. Once superuser is obtained, you have the ultimate power of root and hence are able to literally do ANYTHING with the device. Superuser is the permission that allows root access. Once again, this has NOTHING to do with your phone’s performance and what not.

FLASHING CUSTOM SOFTWARE is what most of the newbies are seeking for. This is what actually improves the performance of your phone. Custom software includes the Operating System, kernel and the ROM. Each of these are complimentary to one another and require each other to execute the commands and operate the device. If you were building a house, kernel would be its base, Operating system would be its pillars and ROM would be the roof. How solid is your base, pillar and roof determines how well your house will be built. The amount of current supplied, the frequency of the CPU, the governors available, total free RAM, overclocking, undervolting, optimization, bloatwares, modules, and a huge bunch of parameters determines the overall performance of the phone. THIS is the actual thing that you may want to adventure when playing in the Android hacking scene.

Then why do everyone keep saying “I root my device” instead of “I flashed a custom software on my device”?
Simple. Because you need to have root access before you can flash the custom software.

It is important to at least understand these basic terms before you start exploring the Android further. Hope this will clear up much of the confusion that is hovering around the Android community.


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