[kwlug-disc] Android data backups

Chris Irwin chris at chrisirwin.ca
Tue Jul 24 13:25:34 EDT 2012

On Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 11:14 AM, <3lucid at gmail.com> wrote:

> OT:
> Out of curiosity, Chris, would you pay extra for a rootable device vs a
> non-rootable device?

I don't know how to really answer this. I would not buy a non-rootable
device. Anything I can't root is simply not an option for purchase. So it's
not a matter of saying I'd prefer and will pay $X extra for it, but that I
would pay for it at all.

My device history reflects this:

- Nokia n810. Basically Debian & rooted.

- Palm Pre, Pre2, and Touchpad. All webos devices were rootable by typing
in a dev code (the konami code :). There was a rather good community
supporting an alternative app repository (preware) and OS hacking.

- B&N nook colour (before they branded it as a "tablet"). It had a
factory-unlocked bootloader, and you could install CM7 (and thus have a
normal rooted android environment) by simply dd'ing it to an SD card, and
inserting it. No exploits or tricks.

- My first android phone is the Galaxy Nexus. Same basic idea as the Palm
devices: ships locked with a documented method to unlock it, and simple
method from that to root it (or install pre-rooted firmware). The nexus
series requires a factory reset to perform the unlock, which is annoying
(Can't back it up properly without root. Need to unlock to root. unlocking
wipes the device. Fuuuu...), but is actually in the documentation had I
read that first.

I'm considering getting the Nexus 7, even though it lacks HDMI out, an SD
slot, and USB host ports. You can probably guess why it's on my list. Plus,
being a google device, the shelf-life will be longer than many other

Now, do I "need" root? Probably not. Lots of software I use requires it
(openvpn, ti backup, etc), but I could probably get by without that.
I've definitely taken advantage of having it, though: I pushed newer
versions of WebOS than were supported onto my Pre (take that,
planned obsolescence!), flashed a "normal" android on the nook colour to
use as a tablet instead of a US-only e-reader, flashed alternative firmware
and kernels to my galaxy nexus which allowed a noticeable extension of
functionality *and* battery life (wonderful to get both).

Granted, you can root almost any android device out there with some effort.
Quite a lot of "locked down" devices have exploits that you can use. Some
vendors release a device and indicate that they will "soon" release an
unlocker (and some even follow through, but usually in the form of a
windows-only app). I won't mess with any of that while there are reasonable
alternatives. I'm not willing to pay actual money for a device I don't

Note: For the purposes of this email, I'm treating locked bootloaders and
rooted systems as being the same thing. To me, they are both necessary.

Chris Irwin
<chris at chrisirwin.ca>
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