It seems bizarre to me that Android devices that you have bought and paid for are not capable of providing a built in root session, so you can gain full control over your own device!

Why is this acceptable?

I understand that the functionality / stability of a device may be compromised by the use of the root user, but surely if you accept the void warranty and so forth and the device clearly warns you of the risks, an official root mechanism has to be better than downloading un-trusted binaries off a random locker site and trying to root the device yourself, with all the potential headache this might bring.

It irritates me that I need to do this to gain full control over a device I own.

EDIT: This question has been criticized its answers being primarily opinion based, and I admit it is practically rhetorical in its nature. BUT ... I personally believe this is the "elephant in the room" concerning the (current and future) freedom of users of portable devices, to control what they legitimately own: I challenge the received thinking which seems to be: "Do not dare question the authority of the device manufacturers to have ultimate control over a device you own".

If you own a smart phone and are not simply bovine marketing statistic, this affects you.

  • 1
    Answers to this will be pure speculation – though a very strong reason is manufacturers want to save themselves from thousands of service requests made by n00bs who "accidentally uninstalled a system app" and the like. – Izzy Jan 12 '16 at 15:08
  • @Izzy Well, they would have already accepted the disclaimer during the process of getting root access ... – Geeb Jan 12 '16 at 15:18
  • It's acceptable because people accept it. If you don't, buy something else you do accept. – Matthew Read Jan 12 '16 at 18:23
  • @MatthewRead Yes, we must allow market forces to determine the future of our freedom. – Geeb Jan 13 '16 at 10:48
  • I didn't downvote or VTC before, because although it's a rant disguised as a question, I thought the question itself was perfectly reasonable. After the edit I've downvoted because the edit is completely rhetoric: the OP is trying to tell us something, not find anything out. That's not what this site is for. – Dan Hulme Jan 13 '16 at 17:37

Because most users don't want this functionality, understand what it means, wouldn't care about it even if they did understand, and would probably break their phone with it if they did. If it weren't acceptable, phones where rooting is not supported would have a much smaller market share than phones where rooting is easy and supported by an official process (e.g. Nexus phones).

Compare the situation with Android's main competitor, iPhone. Their nearest equivalent to rooting is jail-breaking. Jail-breaking isn't just unsupported, Apple goes out of their way to make it impossible, and each OS update makes old jail-break methods stop working. Unlike Android, where rooting a device just gives you more control over it, once you've jail-broken your iPhone you can't even use Apple's App Store any more.

This state of affairs, which is even more restrictive than the most restrictive Android builds, isn't just acceptable, it is viewed as a benefit to many people. Some kind of users think of it as a security benefit. Enterprise customers in particular, who want to lock down phones they issue and to be able to remote-wipe them if they're lost, like to know that the phones won't be rooted as soon as the users get their hands on them. And certain kinds of app developers (generally those with DRM, or games that need to prevent cheating) want to know that their app's private data can't be copied or modified by the user.

All these groups of stakeholders (enterprise users, security developers, and carriers) view restricting the platform more as a benefit. It's only the tinkerers who find it a negative. And even then, making the rooting process harder makes it more attractive to some kinds of tinkerer, because it is an interesting challenge for its own sake, with a cool perception, not just the first step to controlling your device further. Rooting your device is exciting in a way that turning on the "Unknown sources" switch in the security settings is not.

  • The very term "jailbreak" implies the removal of one's freedom has been inflicted by default. But, of course, it's all for your own good. Trust in the benevolent dictatorship of the gobal megacorp. Surprised at the down-votes considering the main codebase of Android is licensed as an open source project. – Geeb Jan 13 '16 at 10:44

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