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There are a lot of system apps in my mobile that I do not use, and have no intention of ever using. I know that is is possible to uninstall system apps and bloatware with root, but is it possible without root?

Are there any non-root options that will help me to deal with unwanted system applications?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 20 down vote accepted

No, that is impossible -- as only root can make the system partition writable (which is required to delete a system app, which is stored there). However, using ICS (Android 4.0) or above, you can at least "freeze" them (make it "invisible and unusable") -- and, if you later decide otherwise, also unfreeze them again (see e.g. How to Remove / Disable the Bloatware Apps in the HTC One X or Bye-bye, bloatware: Disable system apps in Android Ice Cream Sandwich).

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I agree with Izzy's answer mostly, however technically it is possible to do so without.

Background:

  • System apps reside at /system/app/*
  • /system is a separate partition that is mounted read-only during normal use
  • Some phones (HTC) even lock the flash partition to disallow any write
  • Normally one gains root on the normal system to make /system writeable and remove stuff with root rights there
  • Rooting is the process of becoming root on the normal Android system and make this persistent by installing some file (/usr/xbin/su and such)

To remove apps without rooting one would have to not root his phone but find another means to remove unneeded apps from /system

  • On Google Nexus devices one would unlock and boot a temporary custom recovery to do that (no rooting of the normal Android instance)
  • With Samsung devices one could use the same approach like CF-Root does (download partition, modify, write back)
  • Or just run an exploit withouth the rooting procedure afterwards and use that temporary root to do all needed cleanup

Bottom line: Rooting and then doing it is far easier. I just wanted to explain that it is indeed possible technically

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Can you tell about doing it for Samsung (Galaxy Y) in a little more detail, or may be provide a link? –  user221287 Jul 30 '12 at 15:54
    
I have no links, sorry. I'd say the easiest way to do it is root/remove-junk/unroot see here. If you really would like to do it without rooting: You can see the contents of unroot.zip and create your own update.zip that removes just what you don't like. However: You need to learn how to do it and how the scripting works, but beware of the risks: You could easily break your phone. Better root+unroot afterwards, it's a known path. –  ce4 Jul 30 '12 at 20:16
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Just thinking out loud here; but wouldn't you be able to connect your phone to a Linux computer, and mount the /system partition from there? –  RobinJ Aug 21 '12 at 10:14
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No. The block dev for /system cannot be accessed via USB mass storage without having root. Also regular linuxes don't support yaffs2 out of the box. –  ce4 Aug 21 '12 at 10:46

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