This is a group of Android enthusiasts that like to alter the behavior of their Android devices well beyond what the general or cellular providers ever intended. If done by the right person, this can be implemented with great results. Conversely, if done by someone not paying attention or who is in over their head, the device could end up being bricked.
I’ve always been a little skeptical of rooting my phone, and to be terribly honest, I didn’t even really understand the delineation between “rooting” and installing custom ROMS on the device.
Essentially, “Rooting” is when you work past the built-in roadblocks put in place by the device manufacturer/carriers that disallow you from having the capability of “superuser” access to the file system on the device. That’s pretty much it. You can root your phone but still run the exact same OS with the same apps as when you received it from Verizon. Here’s a bit more info if you want to sit down with a cup of hot cocoa and a fluffy cardigan next to the fireplace: Rooting – Is it for me?
Installing a custom ROM is when you replace the vendor supplied OS with an alternate one, usually for performance reasons, or you are just a control freak. You need to have rooted your phone before you install a custom ROM, but you don’t need to install a custom ROM because you’ve rooted your device. If you want to install a custom ROM for your tablet or phone, I suggest you start by checking out the CyanogenMod team’s website.
Rooting an Android device isn’t necessarily hard, but it isn’t easy, either. You need to get a hold of the Android SDK (sometimes used interchangeably with the term ‘ADB’, which is actually the executable you use to push files and commands to the device). Armed with this and a few utilities that you push to your device using ADB, you can typically gain root access in about 20 minutes (if you are uninitiated, or even if you are somewhat savvy).
Here are the reasons I rooted my phone:
- I wanted to remove all the crappy bloatware Verizon apps. Really, I don’t want or even care about Blockbuster streaming videos. Why isn’t the Blockbuster name dead yet? Also, I really don’t want an evaluation piece of software that I could get from the Android Market anyway (BitBop, TuneWiki, etc.). These apps take up space, and as a result, utilize resources I could dedicate to other apps, you know, like Angry Birds.
- I wanted to run the Cisco Anyconnect VPN client on my device (this was the impetus).
- I wanted to have the capability of completely backing up my ROM using Titanium backup.