My sanity is at stake here. I need root but I don't have access to any fancy proprietary OS.
I'd appreciate any help.
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I have a T-Mobile G1 running 1.6-donut. I rooted it this weekend from my Ubuntu laptop. Here's what I did:
install terminal emulator from the marketplace (I didn't end up using it, but it is good to have)
installed the Android SDK on my laptop (actually, I installed it six months ago, but that's not the point, is it?)
Downloaded Universal Androot from this XDA forum: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=747598
adb install to install the UniversalAndroot .apk -- the command will be something like
adb install /home/amanda/Downloads/UniversalAndroot_1.6.1.apk
ran Universal Androot on my phone once it was installed.
rebooted my phone
Then I had root. I installed the BusyBox Installer from the marketplace (note: there's a $0 version but donating is nice, too) and used that to install BusyBox. Note that I wasn't able to install BusyBox (you install the installer from the marketplace, but then you use that app to install BusyBox itself) until I'd not only unmounted my phone from my laptop but actually pulled the cable. My phone didn't want to re-mount the SD Card with the cable in.
PS. The relative "fanciness" of a proprietary OS is debatable but also offtopic.