I have a bit of philosophy I’d like to pass in to your fellow developers at Motorola/Google regarding people who root phones. It something that people there should really think through.

Google and Motorola have taken a root hostile position and I think that is a mistake. I think that your companies should do a 180 on that and embrace the rooting community and take advantage of a lot of talent rather than seeing us as if we were criminals from breaking into our own phones.

I would point out first that Android is really just Linux which is an operating system that comes from our world. It is not only free but the license requires all improvements to also be free. You get for free and you have to give back for free. Because of this license an environment was created where most all the biggest corporations on the planet and tens of thousands of individuals came together to build the single most dominate operating system on the planet. And all those Linux developers were root.

In contrast Apple started with BSD which is also open source operating system but with a different license. With BSD you can grab the code and turn it into a closed OS which is what Apple did. I remember early iPhone user who got root access had their phones bricked by Apple who sent out an update that deliberately destroyed their phones. Steve Jobs was an evangelist and Apple has its cult following much the same way L. Ron Hubbard started Scientology. When I look at the iPhone all I see is the same one button mindset that reflects the one button mouse that Apple still has on their laptop computers. An Apple breakthrough is something Android has been doing for years. Some day they might even get widgets.

What it comes down to is evolution. Evolution is the principle designing force on the planet, not just for life – but for companies – and for technology. Humans developed a cooperative model that allows us to link our minds together and share knowledge. That’s what makes us the dominate species on this planet. Similarly Linux evolved into the dominate operating system (except in the consumer world in PC computers) and it was because it is intrinsically cooperative.

Root users is where the cool development lives. Instead of fighting us you should encourage us, embrace us. Allow the evolution to continue. This is after all the single advantage you have over Apple, and without the hacker community Google will become just another big dumb company like Apple. You can take advantage of free development that is just sitting there wanting to help. You could even buy some of our technology which would encourage even more development. There are some of us who you can’t hire because we like the freedom of self employment. We live outside the box. Our world is the world of new ideas and innovation.

So – getting to the point – I recommend that when you release Jelly Bean that you don’t include the root hostile code that is in this release and that you make the system root friendly and that you embrace the root community and take advantage of the evolutionary forces that got you where you are today. Otherwise the open source world will develop its own Linux based operating system for phones and Google will be left behind.

Something to think about.



  1. Jeanne says:

    The problem may not be Google’s willingness to embrace rooting, but Verizon’s, AT&T’s, etc. Google may feel that, until they become their own cellular company, they don’t have much choice.

  2. Marc Perkel says:

    That might be the case but from what I understand Verizon and AT&T don’t actually write the code and I think the influence is on the side of Google.

  3. Arkyn1 says:

    “This is after all the single advantage you have over Apple, and without the hacker community Google will become just another big dumb company like Apple.”

    Most companies WANT to be just another big dumb company like Apple. Apple has tons of money, a customer base that borders on religious fanaticism, and a marketing department that is second to none. What you threaten Google with is what they might consider to be the ultimate goal.

  4. sargasso_c says:

    Apple stock is in decline, their market share is shaky, their boardroom politics increasingly resembles Stalin’s Kremlin and they just bought a clock for $20 million.

  5. Sergei says:

    How is Google being root unfriendly? All the Nexus branded device can be unlocked and rooted in few easy steps. As far as I know up until now, the source code for Android 4.1.2 has been released and it has been merged in CM10 for example. The same thing will probably happens with the new 4.2, so what are you complaining about exactly?

    • Marc Perkel says:

      Because I know something you don’t that I can’t talk about.

      • MikeN says:

        Well isn’t this awkward.

      • Deckard Cain says:

        And what would that be? Oh that’s right, you can’t tell, so why even bother to make a post like that?

        Dude you are cool, you have inside info!

        There I said it, now if you excuse me I need to go and update my phone and tablet to the official version of CM10.

  6. What? The moth is always drawn to the flame? says:

    All I know is that my iphone 3G works better at reading emails and listening to podcasts. Maybe Apple has the patents that enable the 3G not to suck. But I’m tired of my Google Nexus Jellybean and its crappy user experience.

  7. The0ne says:

    someone having a bad weekend,

  8. Kahless says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the “anti-root” code in the form of locked bootloaders from the handset manufacturers? And if that’s the case, there isn’t much Google can do about it, is there? And extending that, wouldn’t the fact that Google offers the Nexus lines with unlocked bootloaders be evidence that Google is, in fact, embracing those that root their phones?

    Also, this whole thing has the classic signs of zealotry that isn’t based in reality.

    “Similarly Linux evolved into the dominate (sic) operating system (except in the consumer world in PC computers) and it was because it is intrinsically cooperative.”

    Market share numbers put Unix (including Linux) somewhere between 40% & 60% of the market, and desktop Linux share around 2%. While the server share is large, it’s hardly dominant.

    Let’s be real here. Android is open source. If you think there is anti-root code that you don’t like, do the Linux thing and roll your own distro. Why is that Google’s responsibility? They pay plenty of smart people to work on Android. I’m pretty sure there isn’t anyone sitting at Google saying, “Gee, if only we had that one guy from XDA Developers Android would be so much better.”

    Time for Perkel to get his head out of the clouds and his feet back in reality.

    • Kahless says:

      Wish I had an edit button. I meant to say 40% to 60% of the server market.

  9. Correctotron says:

    “When I look at the iPhone all I see is the same one button mindset that reflects the one button mouse that Apple still has on their laptop computers.”

    Apple laptop computers don’t have one button mice. The trackpad isn’t exactly one button either, if that’s what you mean.

  10. msbpodcast says:

    You are partly to blame too.

    You demand absolute reliability as if the phones were still wired and stupid but you can’t expect that absolute reliability in the DIY world of alleged Smart Phones where you phone is lying there legs spread wide saying fuck my slutty ass.

    Apple attempts to control its ecosystem and gets a lot of crap from the Android development community, but got almost none since the iPhone’s introduction from the hundreds of millions of users.

    • The Monster's Lawyer says:

      I’d rather hang out with the fun (slutty) girls than the prigs.
      Beware when your friends say:
      “You should try iPhone, she’s got a good personality.”

  11. Joel C. says:

    I agree with the spirit of your argument, but must disagree on one point of fact. Mac laptops do not use “one button.” Some of the older ones might, but for the last several years you’ve been able to left-click, right-click, and use all kinds of other gesture controls.

    That aside, you have a valid point and here’s why. When the popular online game “World of Warcraft” came out 8 years ago they did something no major game had really done before and they let the user’s write their own UI code. So, you had thousands of user’s writing UI mods and other addons. Every now and then an update would come out that would break or block some of the user creations, but many and more were subverted by the game’s developer and made into “official” parts of the game. I’ve always thought this was a brilliant move since it basically gave Blizzard access to a legion of coders who were essentially working for free.

    As long as the legal documents are in place to keep a “root” developer from suing Google or one of its partners then Google is stupid not to exploit what is essentially a free labor force.

  12. shooff says:

    Why Root? I used a stock OG EVO for 30 months. It’s a phone/fancy radio. Convienient research tool. I added maybe 40 apps.

    Now I have a NOTE 2, it also is a phone/fancy radio/camera that is easy to read.

    What doesn’t it do? Sure I have a rebroadcaster (iheart) but I did not feel the need to root these devices.

    It seems like customizing a car. The more custom the car or phone the higher wow factor. However, it main use is still transportation/communication and the dealer warranty is more important than the lift/lowering kit.

    There are so many wallpaper apps I can’t decide. It seems like endless apps for everything. Playbooks for coaches, to phasers for geeks.

    I would love to know besides stealing Wi-fi node from your provider, why root?

    I’m open to suggestion. What ultimate productivity tool is only available with root access on the Note 2? Considering the phone is worth about $650 retail. Is there a program that will make me $650 more productive in Root?

    • Alex says:

      Transferring gameplay levels to new devices.
      Getting Google Now on an un-updated by carrier phone.

      I don’t expect to see full Google influence on Motorola till 24 months after purchase.

      I really hope Nexus stay bootloader unlocked.

      • Captain Obvious says:

        Locked bootloaders are a good idea. And you do realise that Nexus devices come with a locked bootloader?

        • Alex says:

          Yup, out of the box sure the boots are locked, but are very easily unlocked with one a line ADB command.

          Why should bootloaders be locked?

  13. Kintaar says:

    Dominate and dominant are two different words. Run a spell check before you post.

    • noname says:

      Spell check catches misspelled words not incorrect words.

      Please use your brain before posting!

      You sound like a programmer, unable to logically understand a problem, but full of Cheetos and advice!

  14. Beth Pugh says:

    As long as android rooting programer suing with google we can cross them and maybe they will have a partnership. The problem may not be Google’s willingness.