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T-Mobile G2 'Permaroot' Achieved 262

Posted by timothy
from the proud-we-are-of-all-of-them dept.
VValdo writes "After over a month of relentless hacking, genius scotty2 has finally smashed the G2's notorious emmc-read-only-on-boot mechanism, which had been incorrectly characterized in the press as a 'rootkit.' The hack involves several steps — first achieving 'temp root' through a fork bomb exploit, then running a specially crafted kernel module that power-resets the read-only emmc to bring it up in read-write mode. Finally, the bootloader is re-flashed, which permanently removes the read-only on subsequent boots. The whole process is expected to be automated by tomorrow."
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T-Mobile G2 'Permaroot' Achieved

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  • Now if they could only add another rows of keys I could type my password...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:16PM (#34181370)

    "Buying" a device that doesn't become yours and then going through extreme measures to make it yours doesn't help anything. It hurts everybody in the end, because (a) it makes the next round of devices even MORE locked down to since they learned from last time, and (b) it doesn't exert economic pressure against this sort of lock down to begin with.

    • by icebike (68054) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:27PM (#34181460)

      So what then is your suggestion?

      Continue to pay for something you can never really own?

      Demonstrating that any lock down can be broken does exert pressure for the companies to stop wasting their resources.

      Bringing a phone to market has real costs associated with it.

      If they know it will be hacked (often before its official release date) why bother trying? Why spend all that money and time dicking around with some cat and mouse game where you are always the mouse, when your competition can get there quicker by avoiding the effort.

      All they really need is an indicator that it WAS hacked so they can choose to honor the warranty or not, (Like the Nexus One, which gives you root at the press of a button, but makes it obvious you chose to take it).

      Sooner or later we should start pushing for lock downs to be made illegal, and demonstrating that they are ineffective is as good a first step as any.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)

        Sooner or later we should start pushing for lock downs to be made illegal, and demonstrating that they are ineffective is as good a first step as any.

        No, lock downs shouldn't be illegal, it should, however, on the packaging and in the contract say to what extent things are locked down.

        It should be the manufacturer's right to lock down whatever in the product they send out, it isn't the manufacturer's right to send feature destroying firmware updates out with the intent to disrupt people who chose to use their devices in other ways just like it isn't within my rights to mail every Windows user I know a virus intending to cause harm and because it is

        • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:35PM (#34181526)

          lock downs shouldn't be illegal

          Why not?

          It should be the manufacturer's right to lock down whatever in the product they send out

          Why, when it only disenfranchises the end user?

          On the other hand, it should be perfectly within anyone's rights to modify and use their legitimately purchased items in whatever way they want (assuming it doesn't cause harm to others).

          This conflicts with the manufacturer being allowed to ship things locked down. I can understand secured with option to disable, but stuff like what Motorola does (and HTC, if they start signing the bootloader) precludes your right to work with your property, and solely for the benefit of the manufacturer.

          • Why, when it only disenfranchises the end user?

            And legislative interference with the end user's right to enter into a contract -- regardless of your personal opinion about the terms of that contract -- isn't "disenfranchising"?

            • by Entropius (188861) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:46PM (#34181600)

              Only in a truly free market.

              We've long passed the point where cell service is a true free market, with any real competition.

            • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:46PM (#34181606)

              legislative interference with the end user's right to enter into a contract

              Oh boy, more nonsense. Is it really a fair contract when it's between you and a multi-billion dollar corporation presenting you a one-sided contract?

              Indeed, it would be PUTTING POWER IN YOUR HANDS. They wouldn't be able to strip you of control over your own property (which it does eventually become.) And yet you whine?

              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by Darkness404 (1287218)
                You don't seem to understand the point.

                A government who tries to 'help' consumers by limiting what corporations can do can and will just as easily screw customers in favor of corporations. If you don't screw with the balance of power and instead leave governments out of things like this, consumers gain more control.

                When you put that control into the government's hands it flip flops back and forth from control from the people to the corporations back to the people then back to corporate control again
                • by Microlith (54737)

                  You don't seem to understand the point.

                  I don't defend the ability for corporations to leverage their power over people in unfair ways.

                  It is a fundamental right for people

                  People. The biggest failure of the Supreme Court was for them to declare corporations as legal persons, despite being complete legal fictions.

                  HTC can make a locked down phone, but it is a right for consumers to break it

                  Except when HTC utilizes their control over the design to ensure that you can't. Sort of like how no one has broken Motoro

                  • by Microlith (54737)

                    #%@#$

                    Forgot a closing blockquote in there, right before "People" :(

                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by Darkness404 (1287218)

                    I don't defend the ability for corporations to leverage their power over people in unfair ways.

                    How is it unfair?

                    I go to buy a product, I am informed of the product and reasonably can know its limitations. I buy that product. I am able to use that product as I see fit.

                    Yes, I do think that phones should have to say on the packaging if they do not allow root/admin/superuser/etc. access. But saying that you can't sell them despite the fact that people were aware of the limitations is as silly as saying we should ban tomatoes because they don't give you the ability to fly.

                    Except when HTC utilizes their control over the design to ensure that you can't. Sort of like how no one has broken Motorola's lock down of the boot loader or kernel.

                    Oh yes, I forgot abou

                  • by shoehornjob (1632387) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:27PM (#34182246)

                    Corporations have too much power and control information too well for there to be a truly informed consumer base

                    While I agree that corporations in general (in the USA) have way too much power I disagree that the public wants to be truly informed. The general public in the USA suffers from what I call plug and play syndrome. People don't care if you can get root on a phone and load your own software. They want something that fills a need ( the corporations sold them on) and they want it to work with a minimum of hassle. This is why the Iphone is so popular. Try to talk to a person about tech and use a few terms they are unfamiliar about and you'll see the eyes glaze over. You're right on when you say "corporations deliberately leverage the ignorance of the masses for their own benefit". They get away with it because there are too many sheep in this country who have been bread for ignorance.

                • by arth1 (260657) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:11PM (#34182152) Homepage Journal

                  Is this why the monthly price is cheaper and the coverage higher in countries where consumer protection prevents the mobile phone companies from locking phones (or for locking them for more than a couple of months after purchase)?

                  When legislation serves to increase competition instead of allowing de-facto oligopolies to strongarm the consumers, it isn't trampling people's rights; it's securing them.

              • Oh boy, more nonsense. Is it really a fair contract when it's between you and a multi-billion dollar corporation presenting you a one-sided contract?

                And just to pile on here, note that its a multi-billion dollar corp that is dependent on government granted monopolies on otherwise public airspace. I'm sure the corps would argue that they bought those monopolies free and clear at the FCC spectrum auctions, but given that the entire reason for such monopolies is justified as public benefit it's not congruous with then limiting device functionality at the expense of the public.

              • by RulerOf (975607) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:51PM (#34182052)

                They wouldn't be able to strip you of control over your own property (which it does eventually become.)

                Eventually?!

                My phone was mine the instant I bought it. I did, however, acquire it for a sub-retail price by agreeing to be either a customer of the reseller for 24 successive months or to pay them $375, pro-rated monthly after fulfillment of the first 12 months of the prior option have elapsed.

                Contract or not, there's no fucking way that the device belongs to anyone other than its owner. The fact that rooting *a computer* that you own is dangerous and sometimes impossible, warranty or not, is egregiously offensive to me as a consumer.

                If I buy your shit from you, it's not your shit anymore. It's my shit and you have no damn business telling me what I do with it, and no, I signed no contract stating otherwise.

                Don't ever forget that, and don't ever let a retailer tell you differently.

          • This conflicts with the manufacturer being allowed to ship things locked down. I can understand secured with option to disable, but stuff like what Motorola does (and HTC, if they start signing the bootloader) precludes your right to work with your property, and solely for the benefit of the manufacturer.

            No it doesn't. Consider someone buying a locked chest. It should be within someone's rights to sell a locked chest so long as the person who buys it knows that it is locked. It should be well within that person's rights that when they take it home, they decide to either pick the lock, cut off the lock, or smash open the chest. There is no conflict there. Now, that person shouldn't be able to force the seller of the locked chest to help him glue back the pieces of the chest he smashed open because he took

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by DavidRawling (864446)

              Furthermore, destruction of the lock and use of the unlocked chest does not excuse the seller breaking into your house at night and attaching a newer, stronger padlock to the chest, locking you out of it again (OTA updates anyone?) Also, what about the people that bought outright? Are you going to argue that the device suddenly becomes the property of the telco when the person signs up for service?

              Bloody anonymous cowards ...

          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            IMO if you want to use someone's service, you have to use it their way. Certain Apple Apps would require a certain firmware that may have not been jailbroken yet. However, it should still be someone's choice to do what they want with a physical device they purchase.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          And it is, but it may void your warranty; which it should. And lets not forget the fact that with a connected device, whatever you do may impact others.

          For example, if you 'jail break' a phone to exceeds some internal limit on down load, then you are impacting everyone else who is also using the bandwidth.

          That example was used to make a point, I have no idea if anyone is doing that.

          • by Microlith (54737)

            if you 'jail break' a phone to exceeds some internal limit on down load

            Then someone is doing it very, very wrong.

          • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:52PM (#34181640)
            We have a network where pretty much everyone runs whatever they want on it. Its called the internet. And yet, oddly enough there aren't any major service disruptions other than a few localized events.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by badboy_tw2002 (524611)

              The GP post was pretty stupid (those limits would be on the tower/host side of things), but bandwidth isn't free in the cell world. Its the same as everyone trying to use the same wifi hotspot when you're at a conference or something - you are sharing with other people on the network. What _should_ be contractual is the amount of bandwidth you're to expect, and the provider should have to honor that by expanding service in heavy use areas.

              • But that has nothing to do with jailbreaking. I can just as well use that much bandwidth streaming Pandora all day on a non-jailbroken iPhone or non-rooted G2 and the idea that jailbreaking somehow is going to add to bandwidth problems is rather silly at best.
            • by null etc. (524767)

              It's funny to read this comment after seeing an ad from the BSA on Slashdot's homepage. Unfortunately, that means that this will be my last post here. I'm off to inhabit other virtual locales that don't cater to the strong-arm tactics of the BSA.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by ScrewMaster (602015) *

            And it is, but it may void your warranty; which it should.

            Why? Does it it void your warranty if you install Windows XP on a computer that used to have Windows 98 on it? The only reason there's any risk whatsoever of damaging a phone while installing a third-party operating system is because the phone manufacturers have made it that way. Now, I had a G1 (rooted, running Cyanogenmod) and with a decent recovery partition installed and Nandroid backups it was damn near impossible to brick it. Not impossible, just very difficult ... and it wouldn't have been hard for H

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by sqlrob (173498)

        Demonstrating that any lock down can be broken does exert pressure for the companies to stop wasting their resources.

        Not really. Most, if not every, lock down in the past few decades have been broken. Yet they still persist. They're not going to learn.

        • When it comes to this sort of thing, they don't need to learn. Most of their user base will not jailbreak or unlock anything; they don't get a lot of benefit from policing the few who do. In fact, if it becomes too easy, then there's a problem: if a critical number of people start tethering unlocked phones, the carrier will then need to meter bandwidth. As long as only a techie few are doing it, they can generally be left alone.

          • by wampus (1932)

            Tethering isn't a terribly compelling reason to root the G2, considering you just have to check a box in the network settings. The only reason I even installed VISIONary is to add some shit to my hosts file to make my Angry Birds experience better.

      • by cromar (1103585)
        I agree, but I wonder if it is true no device can be irreversibly locked down. No one has done it yet, but I fear it may one day be possible to do so completely. I would love to be proven wrong.
        • by Microlith (54737)

          I wonder if it is true no device can be irreversibly locked down

          Technically it is. The catch is that to unlock, say, a Motorola device you'd need to desolder the SoC stack and install a new OMAP3 chip in its place. This is a nontrivial, highly risky operation even when done with specialized equipment.

          So while it is technically defeatable, effectively it is not.

      • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:22PM (#34181854)

        So what then is your suggestion?

        Allow me to make a suggestion. Pressure Google. The Google logo is writ large on this HTC/T-Mobile phone. Google is more responsible for the evil lack of respect for the free software this phone is built with than anybody else.

        Make it known to any Google representative who will listen (warning: these are few and far between) that you regard the company as hypocritical and cynical, and not worthy of your trust unless the rights of owners of phones running Android/Linux are fully respected.

        And yes, I know all about Google and cynical, after all I worked there for three years and had plenty of opportunity to observe Google management up close. Google is in fact just another cynical megacorp, however it is slightly unusual in that its stock will suffer greatly if its users ever become widely aware of this fact. Therefore, Google tends to be slightly more responsive to justifiable criticism than other cynical megacorps.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Fnkmaster (89084)

          Brilliant suggestion: buy a Nexus One. Best phone you can get right now. If you buy one of these locked down Android phones and whine about it, it's your own fault, and you are voting with your dollars for carriers to lock phones down. You are now part of the problem. Be part of the solution instead.

          • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:37PM (#34182656)

            Brilliant suggestion: buy a Nexus One. Best phone you can get right now. If you buy one of these locked down Android phones and whine about it, it's your own fault, and you are voting with your dollars for carriers to lock phones down. You are now part of the problem. Be part of the solution instead.

            My G2 was rooted the day I got it and will soon be permarooted. This time, Google's weak kneed posture with respect to HTC's and T-Mobile's mean spirited abuse of the open source gift they have been given will come to no harm. Next time might be different. All the ISP's, the Android manfacturers, and especially Google, need to be put on notice that their open source rocket may fizzle and fall back to earth if they don't get a clue.

            Why not get a Nexus one? It doesn't satisfy my hardware needs.

        • by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @11:23PM (#34182558) Homepage Journal

          It sounds like you have a bit of a bone to pick with the big G.

          Here's a life lesson kid, don't crap on your past employers in public. It makes it hard for people to hire you in the future. I've worked for some big names (call them the big A) and I could tell stories. And I do, with friends after a few drinks. But I never would do that on a public geek forum like /. because maybe someone that is thinking of hiring me is reading.

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            Let's be clear. I still think Google is a great company and I still have not sold a single one of my respectable stack of Google shares. Stayed with it through thick and thin, and now thankfully we're back to the thick and I'm still not selling. However... Google is a great disappointment compared to what it could if it actually walked the walk that it talks, and compared to what it still could be. This saddens me greatly and I criticize in the hope that some good can come of it.

            Certainly, nothing good

        • by SuperBanana (662181) on Wednesday November 10, 2010 @12:43AM (#34183000)

          Make it known to any Google representative who will listen (warning: these are few and far between) that you regard the company as hypocritical and cynical, and not worthy of your trust unless the rights of owners of phones running Android/Linux are fully respected.

          Right. Look: google doesn't even give a shit about the fact that people have been complaining for YEARS about the lack of group support in Android's contact manager and poor company name support (for example, it is impossible to search for your contact at Widgetco. That's a BIG problem for someone with a couple hundred business contacts, like a salesperson.)

          Something my Siemens phone could do back in the early 2000's (bluetooth sync my contacts with the Macintosh Address Book, complete with groups), something my original iPhone did since day 1...Android can't. Well, it sort of does- but it made an utter fucking mess of things when I enabled syncing.

          There's all sorts of half-assed-ness throughout Google products and in particular Android. For example, you can use groups in Google Voice to manage call handling behavior per-group, but only by using the Gmail Contacts interface- not your phone. You can't add a calendar to Google Calendar from your phone. Google Voice doesn't accept mp3 voicemail announcement uploads, something Youmail has supported since day 1.

          The music syncing sucks (doubletwist can bite my shiny iPhone), the music player sucks (both stock and free alternatives, though at least the free alternatives have lockscreen systems), and there's all sorts of annoying 'holes'- like not being able to add a calendar from your phone.

      • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:13PM (#34182164)

        "So what then is your suggestion?"

        Stop giving the manufacturers of such locked-down devices your money?

        Trust me on this one--they will stop making something that doesn't make them money.

      • by Miamicanes (730264) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:18PM (#34182198)

        > All they really need is an indicator that it WAS hacked so they can choose to honor the warranty or not,

        For the record, in the United States, a consumer can't be coerced into disclaiming a manufacturer's warranty, and a manufacturer can't disclaim a warranty for mere breach of contractual terms (least of all a contract of adhesion) unless the breach involved non-payment for a service contract or the manufacturer can demonstrate that whatever it is that the consumer did WAS, in fact, the reason for the failure.

        It's called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.

        Also, a few points that need to be repeated often:

        * Few phones truly get "bricked". 99% of the time, someone screws up a reflash, panics when it doesn't reboot, posts a few messages online, hits google, then figures out 1-36 hours later that he needs to take out the battery, wait a minute or so, then power it back up with some nearly impossible combination of button-presses to trigger its REAL "last-chance" bootloader.

        * It's almost impossible to truly cause real, honest-to-god permanent hardware damage to a recent-vintage phone by reflashing. Worst-case, it might take a minimum-wage employee at an authorized repair center with a JTAG a few minutes to reflash it.

      • by slinches (1540051)

        My suggestion would be to buy an unlocked phone. They are readily available Here [newegg.com] and can be used on any compatible network. The only drawback is that there only seems to be one carrier (T-Mobile) offering reduced pricing on service for a non-subsidized phone.

      • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:42PM (#34182320)

        Buy phones that dont require exploits or "jailbreaking" in order to use them.
        Nokia N900
        OpenMoko Freerunner
        Nexus One
        Palm Pre (last I heard the Pre doesnt require any hacks in order to replace the kernel or system files but I dont know if the new Palm Pre 2 is different in this respect)
        Samsung Galaxy S (again, this one aparently doesnt require hacks)

    • Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Where is your evidence that treating your devices as though you own them "makes the next round of devices even MORE locked down"? How are we to know that it would not matter whether buyers did this, proprietors are going to continue to pursue ways to exclude users from being free to treat their computers as they wish?

  • on the fence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by metalmaster (1005171) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:19PM (#34181396)
    while i am against total lockdowns that cripple a phone(think VZW) I do think that some security is in order.
    • Re:on the fence (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:24PM (#34181428)

      Security is in order, sure, but should the end user wish to assume direct control then it should be a trivial process that requires the user be in physical contact with the device (such as holding down a button.) Not requiring the user to find a local exploit to grant them shell or terminal access like a 3rd party attacking the system.

      But between the carrier and the vendor, you are a 3rd party attacker. This is why I have no respect for most vendors nor for any of the carriers.

      • Pushing a button might not require physical access though. Someone just has to publish an app with mal-intent. Make it look pretty so joe and julie numbskull download it. Run the app to root the phone. You can reek plenty of havoc. Leave security to the users and it will always be defeated by stupidity. Vendors and Carriers alike fear this scenario. Locks are put in place so someone's shiny new toy doesnt become a slave to someone else's bidding. I have to agree with this. Pool enough zombie phones and you
        • by Microlith (54737)

          Someone just has to publish an app with mal-intent.

          Err, if a button has to be pressed when you power the device on to trigger a security unlock, it'll be a heck of a lot harder to do it with an "app" all on its lonesome.

          Leave security to the users and it will always be defeated by stupidity.

          I have no problem with security by default. But let me turn it off if I want to.

          Userland services shouldnt be at the mercy of a carrier though.

          Kernel space is nothing special on these devices. And everything you describe

          • I could write an app that displays on the screen "Hold down the red button on the side for 10 seconds, then press this button, then do this, and your app will give you free pr0n!"

            It sounds stupid, but it would be trivial to socially engineer thousands of people to do something to hardware, if that were my end goal. Granted, not smart users, but then, that's not really who these guys are after. Plenty of low hanging fruit on the shallow end of the gene pool.
            • by Microlith (54737)

              By hold a button I mean "power the device off, hold this button, turn the power on, agree to the terms displayed that explicitly say you're reducing security and voiding your warranty unless you reflash to stock" not something in the runtime user interface.

              Sorta like how the Nexus One does it. Or maybe like how my N900 does it, where you have to enable a repository and explicitly install a package. That alone would throw warning flags off for most people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Darkness404 (1287218)
      What "security" does this give you though? Its becoming increasingly obvious that many vendors -cough- Motorola -cough- want to lock down phones while not providing updates. When I buy a phone, subsidized or not, I should have the right to use it in the way that I want to. Whether that is jailbreaking, rooting, unlocking, etc. the phone. It is counter-productive for HTC/Motorola/Samsung/etc. to keep locking down their phones because what does it really gain them? A bunch of pissed off customers that their d
    • Re:on the fence (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mirix (1649853) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:27PM (#34181458)

      and making the device less usable helps security?

      I guess in some ways it does. This rock is definitely more secure than my computer, which has root. It suffers slightly in usefulness, however.

    • by Gothmolly (148874)

      So you trade freedom for security?

  • This is not off topic as it is awesome that he was able to do that, but come on, no need for the magician introduction on him, "Now introducing, the wonderful, spectaculor, super genius the Amazing Houdini". What ever happened to just giving us the facts and letting us determine how awesome it is?
    • by tmzt (1793440) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:36PM (#34181530)
      You know what they say, irc logs are the first draft of history and they're linked from the wiki, so I'll make this brief. Scotty2, whose early successes include hacking the unhackable gsm RAZR, had a plan of attack that went directly for the eMMC chip through a kernel module. Though sidetracked by a month of other avenues, including the traditional radio and bootloader exploits, buffer overflows and the rest while building a war chest of knowledge about kernel modules (try building a kernel module for a kernel without source sometime) and patiently educating me (sometimes too patient), it came back to the same GPIO 88 that had been looked at a month earlier, and the same method. After the "hard reset" attempt of the eMMC module failed it was clear to him that only powering down the chip would allow the write protect to be disabled (or a reset line but that was either/both not connected or disabled in the eMMC's configuration). So the next month was spent trying to find a way to power down this chip. The reality is HTC was really clever and didn't actually use GPIO 88 itself in the traditional way, but instead used it as a pull down against the eMMC's power line (we think) so that changing the GPIO's configuration and not it's level would reset the chip. This is exactly what HTC's bootloader does when it needs to disable the write protect. If you follow the IRC logs from last night you'll see that it was finally looking at what parameters were being passed to the gpio_config (name is guessed) function, which didn't make any sense for just switching the value of the GPIO line. I know, personally, I had fun and hope you can see that from all the source on github.com/tmzt which is scotty2's, mine, and others. It's all there for anyone who needs to get into a locked down kernel (tivoized) on ARM, so you don't have to start from scratch.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Only one word was used as a qualifier: "genius". You admit that it is supported by the article. The rest of the summary is a description of the hack -- the facts -- and says nothing about how clever it is. It seems to me that you are inventing something to be upset about.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:29PM (#34181476)
    Donate to scotty2 (for root): walker.scott@gmail.com (PayPal)
  • by by (1706743) (1706744) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:33PM (#34181502)
    It seems that people rarely complain about the proprietary engine/drive-by-wire/etc. management software in their car, unless it breaks (think the Toyota debacle of late). Is it just that phones that run *NIX "feel" like they should be open, as we (the greater /. community) know *NIX (Jurassic Park reference intentional...)? Granted, there are legitimate safety concerns for cars, but I imagine there are less drastic examples of this apathy towards device X, but the demand for openness on device Y (phone, game console, etc.).

    That said, I have a clamshell VZW phone, and it does irk me that it's useless for anything except the basics.
    • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @08:41PM (#34181566)

      Because these are not phones. These are miniature computers that handle phone calls as a subset of their capabilities.

      The software that controls my engine/drive-by-wire has a singular purpose, and is basically a bunch of tables with a bit of microcontroller code to flip through them. Smartphones are much, much more and tend to play a greater role in people's day to day activities.

      And if you ask Apple and Microsoft, mobile is where the market is going to be moving heavily. Not necessarily to the exclusion of the desktop market, but still heavily. And, frankly, I don't see the mobile space being controlled so heavily by vendors with vested interests in controlling what you do and how as a good thing.

      • I guess my point is more that if you buy a four-function calculator, you're not going to be upset when you figure out that there's no sin() button -- even though the processor in the calculator may be capable of doing that. Analogously, when you buy a phone, people get rather upset that they can't run arbitrary code on it. Sure, the company is controlling what you run -- but you bought it that way. I agree with what's been said before -- companies need to offer this, in which case the geek money will go wit
        • by Microlith (54737)

          you're not going to be upset when you figure out that there's no sin() button -- even though the processor in the calculator may be capable of doing that.

          Probably not, but then there's a wide gulf between a basic calculator and more powerful devices like these. Witness the consternation over the TI calculators and cracking their signing key. Capability draws attention, and a desire to exploit it.

          Analogously, when you buy a phone, people get rather upset that they can't run arbitrary code on it.

          People used

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Miamicanes (730264)

        > These are miniature computers that handle phone calls as a subset of their capabilities.

        Actually, it's even deeper than that. With every Android phone I'm aware of, the actual low-level "phone" functions are handled by a separate CPU (or core that's partitioned off as a de-facto second CPU), runs its own firmware, and basically looks a lot like a metaphorical voice modem to the rest of the OS (not entirely a coincidence... the first PalmOS PDA phones were basically cobbled-together agglomerations of a

    • It's difficult to improve on a modern car's management software in most cases. Having said that, you're not running around in the right circles if you think there are no aftermarket automotive computers or software hacks for reflashing the existing computer(s).

      In fact, right now I'm designing a replacement for the Honda TCU in my 20 year old Accord because it has a "design flaw" we've all seen affect PC's -- electrolytic caps. After 20 years the caps finally failed and fried the TCU in the process. (can

      • Having said that, you're not running around in the right circles if you think there are no aftermarket automotive computers or software hacks for reflashing the existing computer(s).

        Yeah, I'm running around in the circles where the timing's controlled by vacuum/centrifugal advance ;)

    • by colinnwn (677715)
      I'd say you are being generous. I complain about the fact car companies don't give access to certain features in code or data on the CAN bus of cars. I'm on email lists of DIY enthusiasts who complain about similar.

      Car mfgrs are also terrible about not following specs, or creating proprietary specs and charging a lot for access, where they should be encouraging open industry standards to develop for new features. The argument about safety is used to justify this, but it is not terribly germane, as there
    • by vlueboy (1799360)

      Cell Phones have existed for a very short time. Technically we have watched them evolve from huge analog call-making units to something beyond even our home computers in functionality.

      Anti-establishment people are making the statement that our PC's won't easily head in that direction anytime soon. With cars, well... they've existed for a whole century, and it's too late to stop the lockout. But we look at the suddenly-hardening mindset in the videogame/smartphone industry and see a chance of throwing wrench

    • I call Bullshit. What "people" are you talking about? The people around here are concerned with
      all proprietary and closed computers.

      href="http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=03/01/10/0120249"/a

      As a matter of fact this was a popular topic around here a few years ago.
      It turns out, there ARE people that want access to the computers in their car, they
      believe they can do a better job, and that mods are a good thing. Smart phones are
      the big fad these days, so you read about unlocking and rooting frequently.

  • by vinehair (1937606) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:07PM (#34181744)

    All I have to say is this, as an owner of two android phones, the second only because it physically fell apart from (ab)use and from someone with a love for the platform:

    Looks like we still have that 'DON'T USE APPLE BECAUSE IT'S A CLOSED TOTALITARIAN SLAVE PLATFORM!!!! COME TO ANDROID WHERE ITS FREE AND OPEN AND CHAMPAGNE AND PUPPIES!!!!!!' card, right lads? I mean, we're still laughing at the silly iPhone users having to jailbreak their phones so they can run what they want, right chaps? Right?

    Now while we're at it, can I can a 'connect phone, run program, press button and you're done' solution for rooting my HTC Wildfire? I'm perfectly happy of course, to run adb and replace my bootloader and all the other things that used to get me wet while I was a student - isn't that the definition of open? - but I get the feeling that we could make it just as easy as those Apple user fellows and not lose any of the openness. Right guys?

    Sarcasm away, that dream is gone, guys. The phone networks got to you and Google gave up. If you're going to carry on tooting about the openness of Android to users (they couldn't care less if their developers have to pay to develop or not) then you need some other talking points.

    • All I have to say is this, as an owner of two android phones, the second only because it physically fell apart from (ab)use and from someone with a love for the platform:

      Looks like we still have that 'DON'T USE APPLE BECAUSE IT'S A CLOSED TOTALITARIAN SLAVE PLATFORM!!!! COME TO ANDROID WHERE ITS FREE AND OPEN AND CHAMPAGNE AND PUPPIES!!!!!!' card, right lads? I mean, we're still laughing at the silly iPhone users having to jailbreak their phones so they can run what they want, right chaps? Right?

      Now while we're at it, can I can a 'connect phone, run program, press button and you're done' solution for rooting my HTC Wildfire? I'm perfectly happy of course, to run adb and replace my bootloader and all the other things that used to get me wet while I was a student - isn't that the definition of open? - but I get the feeling that we could make it just as easy as those Apple user fellows and not lose any of the openness. Right guys?

      Sarcasm away, that dream is gone, guys. The phone networks got to you and Google gave up. If you're going to carry on tooting about the openness of Android to users (they couldn't care less if their developers have to pay to develop or not) then you need some other talking points.

      You are so going to be voted down for saying anything negative about android. p.s. BTW, you're 100% correct.

      • one quick point. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by IBitOBear (410965) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @10:32PM (#34182274) Homepage Journal

        He didn't actually say anything negative about android. It's the handset manufacturers that are doing this at the behest of the telephone companies.

        All the evil is coming into the pipe _after_ android, down in the boot loaders and the skins.

        And Google doesn't actually have the Apple Fanboy features that Apple has. Google knows that they will be held to some account by their fickle fan base if the screw up or let their brand get _too_ tarnished by the handset cartel.

        It is a given that "Apple can do no wrong" as far as an Apple Fanboy is concerned. Google has simply not done wrong enough yet to deserve derision as far as Android is concerned.

        Not the same thing at all. In fact, there are legions of people waiting to catch Google out to crucify them.

    • Now while we're at it, can I can a 'connect phone, run program, press button and you're done' solution for rooting my HTC Wildfire?

      8 steps to root on the N900:

      (1-5) main menu -- App manager -- Category:All -- gainroot -- install
      (6-8) main menu -- xterm -- "sudo gainroot"

      Works fine. You can also install custom Linux kernels from the package manager to get wifi-tethering (which I have done, and it works fine).

  • by rastoboy29 (807168) on Tuesday November 09, 2010 @09:15PM (#34181806) Homepage
    I am only interested in a phone that doesn't have to be hacked by some genius to get root access.

    It's fine if it voids the warranty or whatever, but I'm not going to pay for something if I have to fight it to get full control over it.

    Frankly, I might not even take full advantage of that--but I still demand the ability.
    • Nokia N900. Debian Linux ported to ARM with a small-touchscreen-friendly interface. Comes with a terminal app; open that; type "su" and hit Enter. The default root password is publicly available (good idea to change it). People complain that its app store is lacking, and they're right, but they're also missing the point: the thing *runs desktop Linux*!
      It has repositories.
      sudo apt-get install <foo>
      You can even compile from source taballs right on the phone, if you really want to / there's no pre-built binaries.

      The browser is Gecko-based, and includes Flash. You can install AdBlock Plus if you want. You can even install mobile Firefox and get the full Firefox experience, with extensions. You can also install other browsers, if you prefer. Nothing is stopping you.

      The main downside is that it's a due for a refresh. The hardware runs the OS and apps fine, but it's not terribly impressive by modern smartphone measures.

  • I sometimes miss the days by I had a phone that simply made phone calls. Although you can still get simpler phones, it seems like the industry is pushing me to larger, more complicated devices. I enjoy evolving technology, but I just a want a simple phone. The old rubber hardened nextels that you could punt across a football field and then subsequently use without any damage to the phone whatsoever were absolutely awesome.

    I am not pining for the days of yore, but some of us want a simple, quality phone.
    • it seems like the industry is pushing me to larger, more complicated devices.

      Its a free market. You can buy whatever you like. I don't know where you live but department and variety stores in Australia will sell you a samsung phone for less than 50 AUD, no contract. You can get the same phone for less locked to a carrier with a prepaid SIM. Just calls and SMS. Nothing fancy.

      But OTH I just signed up for an LG Optimus. 20 AUD per month for two years, zero up front. No additional cost to me. It runs android 1.6 and has lot of pre-loaded software. So far its a very nice phone and I plan

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Fnord666 (889225)

      Does anybody know of any phones that are simple, elegantly designed, work-as-advertised, and constructed with quality, and they aren't made for Barbie or Ken? RAZRs? Mattels?

      For a simple phone I like the motorola razr v3.
      My reasons are:

      1. Basic phone functionality works well
      2. Decent case
      3. Bluetooth
      4. Easy to repair if needed
      5. Parts are readily available
      6. Inexpensive replacement/spare batteries
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Freedom Bug (86180)

      It's hard to beat the Motofone F3 for "simple, elegantly designed, work-as-advertised, and constructed with quality". It's indestructible, the battery lasts forever and it's dirt cheap. It was designed to be used by people who can't read, so it uses a really annoying icon menu system. And it really sucks for text messages. But you just want a phone, right? Engadget calls it the "zombie apocalypse survival phone" (mostly because of it's 2 week+ battery life).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MoonBuggy (611105)

      My default recommendation in these cases is a Nokia 1100 (or 1101). Black and white screen, so excellent readability and very long life, but with enough pixels to display a text message properly (unlike the Motorola F3's segmented e-ink screen), costs next to nothing, decent lithium ion battery, a well thought out interface, and nearly indestructible.

  • I intend to buy a device that lets you replace the phone software out of the box without the need to exploit it (most likely a Nokia N900)

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