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Android Cellphones

Motorola Releases an Official Bootloader Unlocker 123

Posted by Soulskill
from the uncommonly-helpful dept.
New submitter Nertskull writes "Motorola has released a tool to allow anyone to unlock the bootloader on their phone/tablet. The only supported device so far is the Photon Q 4G LTE, though three other devices are supported through their developer unlock program. Support for unlocking other devices is supposedly on its way." Motorola leads into the unlocking process with this amusing tidbit: "WARNING: Motorola strongly recommends against unlocking the bootloader and/or modifying or altering a device's software or operating system. Doing so can have unintended, unforeseen, and dangerous consequences, such as rendering the device unusable, violating applicable laws, or causing property damage and/or bodily injury, including death." Careful, folks; unlocking that bootloader might kill you.
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Motorola Releases an Official Bootloader Unlocker

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  • Actually... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Unlocking your bootloader *can* kill you. Mind you, it also requires that after unlocking, you also root your device and send the CPU into overdrive, causing the Li-Ion battery to melt/explode. So it's not a proximate cause, but the potential is still there.

    • Re:Actually... (Score:4, Informative)

      by arielCo (995647) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @11:37AM (#41036503)
      I don't know how this gets rated Insightful and not Troll/Funny, but here goes:
      1. Unlocking the bootloader is not the same, does not require, or is a prerequisite for rooting a device. Just as in a PC, the bootloader controls what kernel gets loaded, mostly by checking a signature. Some bootloaders even allow dual booting.
      2. Unlocking the bootloader has nothing to do with overclocking ("CPU into overdrive")
      3. Overclocking, badly done, will mostly drain your battery very fast. The phone itself will overheat, possibly shortening the lifetime of the battery, but hardly anywhere near enough to make it burst/combust.

      You're welcome to provide well-researched counterexamples.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Unlocking the bootloader IS a prerequisite for rooting most devices, and is absolutely the preferred method. The only way around this is to use some sort of hack method.

        Absolutely true on the overclocking part, but it's something of a chain: to overclock you need to root, and to root you need to unlock the bootloader (usually, see above).

  • by maweki (999634) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @10:46AM (#41036139) Homepage
    We've seen companies opening up in the past and often they started closing down again after time. Let us hope they stay open and even more, let us hope it works for them from a business perspective, so that other companies may follow.
    As long as the guys in the suits think they make more money by closing down, we still have a problem.
    • by bigjocker (113512) *

      Posting to undo wrong mod :( sorry

      • Augh! That's how to undo a wrong mod. Thanks for the example.
        • Yes, that was a useful example. Especially since I'm seeing mod points every other day. Sheesh!
          • Every other day? I used the last batch up this morning before I went out for coffee with a friend. Came back to 5 more this after noon already... in the last 2-3 weeks or so I have gotten mod point almost as fast as i use them up.

    • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @01:59PM (#41037701) Journal

      As I read their entry in wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

      - There was pressure from the Android community.
      -- Motorola promised an unlocking tool "by the second half of 2011".
      - When it didn't appear, complaints were mad to the FCC about violation of a Part C rule that appears to REQUIRE a way for ordinary users to unlock the bootloader and load anything they want.

      So this may be Motorola's response, 14 1/2 months late.

      I wouldn't be surprised if Motorola held off, or limited the models unlocked, to avoid violating contract provisions with carriers that resell their phones with their service plans at greatly discounted prices.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I think it might be that Google purchase thing. I wouldn't be surprised if all new phones were factory unlocked from now on, but who knows?

  • Now for iOS? (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by bhagwad (1426855)
    When is Apple following suit?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Kurrel (1213064)
      Customization doesn't seem to be a terribly high priority for Apple software. Besides which, the unlocked bootloader allows one to easily violate the FCC terms, one of which forbids changing the "intended method of using the product (e.g., how the product is held or used in proximity to the body). A change to any of these factors will invalidate the FCC grant." So perhaps CM7 enabling a 270 degree screen rotation (upside-down landscape) is a gross federal violation.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        So perhaps CM7 enabling a 270 degree screen rotation (upside-down landscape) is a gross federal violation.

        Doubtful. Anyone could already hold the phone upside down against their ear if they choose to do so.

      • by Nerdfest (867930)

        Customization will be popular with iOS users when they are allowed to do it.

    • by Miamicanes (730264) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @02:28PM (#41037981)

      > When is Apple following suit?

      You didn't get the memo? iPhone 5w. "w", as in "Woz Edition".

      Rumored features include

        * Zigbee wireless mesh networking

        * multiplexed pins on the headphone jack that can be repurposed for I2C, SPI, or GPIO (not at the same time, obviously). Oh, and legacy UART (3.3v logic) that also supports Atmel-friendly baudrates (125kbit, 250kbit, 1mbit), 9-bit word length (9/N/1, to be exact), and can use pin #3 for GPIO, RTS, CTS, or synchronous clocking in or out.

        * fixed 4800mAH lithium cell

        * gamepad wings that slide out from the underside (to the left and right when held in landscape orientation). One side has an analog stick & digital stick, the other side has an analog stick & 4 buttons.

      * Volume button pair that also serves as the "left trigger button" in "gamepad" orientation, and 2-stage camera button that serves as the "right trigger button" in gamepad orientation. All of which can be intercepted, redefined, and repurposed by end users as they see fit.

      The iPhone 5w's flagship applications will be a logic analyzer/DSO, which demonstrates the use of the bundled iProbe (4 clip-on leads, terminating at a 1/8" TRRRS headphone jack). Additional accessories will allow connectivity to most car ECUs, CANbus, and JTAG.

      Oh, and the phone will also include a fully-unlocked bootloader. Of course, not even Woz will likely be able to get the Powers that Be at Apple to release the source to their crown jewel, but it won't matter. People will buy one, and reflash it to Android. Even Larry & Sergey will be spotted in public with it (running Android, of course).

  • Turn Left! Or so the Nav system of my unlocked phone said, even though I was in the middle of the bridge...
    • by SternisheFan (2529412) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @11:25AM (#41036407)

      Turn Left! Or so the Nav system of my unlocked phone said, even though I was in the middle of the bridge...

      If anyone turns off the middle of a bridge, or onto railroad tracks, or off a cliff because their nav system told them to, then good! That's what you call natural selection in the modern age of tech.

    • by Antarius (542615)
      Don't need a phone for that; I've had two Navman Navigators built 8 years apart try that on me in Adelaide. And if you've ever heard of Adelaide water, you know that'd be fatal.
    • Turn Left! Or so the Nav system of my unlocked phone said, even though I was in the middle of the bridge...

      My LOCKED nav system did just about that to me last year.

      I was driving east into Hawthorne NV on an old desert road. Coming through the last pass it told me to turn left midway through the last pass.. Taking the turn would have sent me down about a hundred feet of cliff.

      It looks like there was once a wagon road there, which had washed out long ago. Of course the USGS still had the track on their map

  • by oakgrove (845019) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @10:51AM (#41036193)
    You know what else would be nice, Motorola? With your unlocking tool, how about updated drivers for the latest version of Android for at least 3 years into the life of each phone. Having an unlocked boot loader is great but actually being able to install Android version++ and having everything work would be even better.
    • Up this guy
      • by spikenerd (642677)
        Motorola: You will use the OS we provide and you will like it.
        Slashdot: Motorola is evil!
        Motorola: Ok, we will allow you to mess with your own phone if you really want to.
        oakgrove: Thanks, but please do all the work for us too, and make it convenient to abandon your business interests by simply pushing a single button!
        dutchwhizzman: Yeah, that would be oss!
        Motorola: Hmm, nevermind, just use the OS that we provide and like it.
        Me: you dorks!
        • by oakgrove (845019)

          oakgrove: Thanks, but please do all the work for us too, and make it convenient to abandon your business interests by simply pushing a single button!

          Even with an unlocked bootloader, in order to use an updated version of Android on a device, you need drivers. The GPU for sure and likely other components on the SOCs Moto use utilize closed hardware that only Moto can provide drivers for. There is no "do all the work for us" as without those drivers, no work can be done unless you get lucky. If Moto goes through the half-measure and unlocks the bootloaders but doesn't provide drivers then you get a half-working solution and Moto's reputation gets tarni

          • by chrb (1083577)

            The GPU for sure and likely other components on the SOCs Moto use utilize closed hardware that only Moto can provide drivers for.

            It's not true that only Motorola can provide drivers - it is just *hard* for others to do so. Nouveau showed it was possible to reverse engineer a GPU driver; in the ARM a world open source Mali GPU driver [limadriver.org] and Adreno GPU driver [github.com]is being worked on, which will hopefully cover a large proportion of the mobile devices out there.

        • by alexgieg (948359)

          ...make it convenient to abandon your business interests by simply pushing a single button!

          Why would our pressing a button cause us to abandon them?

          Oh, right! When you say "your business interests" you don't mean us, the actual customers paying actual money for actual products! Got it!

  • They of course have to cover all their legal bases. Some dolt could theoretically get their battery to catch fire and burn their house down.
  • by supercrisp (936036) on Saturday August 18, 2012 @11:39AM (#41036519)
    Rooted custom OS leads to installing from "Uknown Sources." Installing apps from unknown sources leads to installing pirated apps. Installing pirated apps leads to installing pirated media. Pirating media leads to terrorism. Terrorism leads to death. QED.
    • by itsme1234 (199680)

      I haven't seen even one Android phone where you couldn't enable "Unknown Sources".
      You don't have root, you have bootloader locked, etc but still you can enable "Unknown Sources"

  • by vinn (4370)

    Thank you Motorola.

  • Keep the ignorant ignorant and stop the stupid killing themselves. Sensible really. When Fast Food restaurants have to warn people that coffee might be a tad hot, I'm not suprised to see Google/Motorola do something like this to stop the ignorant from breaking their phones and suing them for it. Although in my opinion, a disclaimer similar to the MIT license would have been better than a warning akin to that on high voltage cabling. Ah well, that's the way the world is heading...
    • by oakgrove (845019)

      When Fast Food restaurants have to warn people that coffee might be a tad hot

      You can blame our illustrious judicial system and multi-million dollar payouts by easily manipulated by sob stories juries for that.

  • ...violating applicable laws...

    That I can violate some law by altering a product I bought always interests me. I suppose if I sharpen one end of my android phone and plunge it into some one's chest I'd be violating a law, much as if I had welded a cow catcher to the front of my car and mowed people down with it. If I add an after market clutch system to it however that seems perfectly fine. There's a whole market for that infact. Rooting MY phone? Some kind of law is broken? What is that??

    • by CityZen (464761)

      What if a hacker added a hidden denial-of-service attack function to a ROM that was widely downloaded?
      How can you be sure that no one has?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm writing this post from my new Virgin HTC Evo V. I spent the past two years locked in to a contract with verizon , stuck with a Motorola droid 2 global.

    I have over 10 hours logged on the phone wih Motorolaand Verizon customer vervice, yelling, screaming, and crying because of the lockedbootloader. I told them if they could not unlock thebootloader or keep up with its kernel releases then they would earn a permanent spot on my shitlist and would lose me as a customer for life. I would encourage everyone

  • About fucking time.

Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward.

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