Originally Posted by biatche
Thanks for the good info... so the apk's are often about getting the bin/xbin files to /system and having a management ui for it
what methods are employed to get the initial root access though? aka "rooting the device"
Manufacturer and carrier dependent.
The traditional steps have always been -
Unlock the bootloader.
Load custom recovery now that bootloader is unlocked.
Use custom recovery to flash an su package or an already-rooted (su'd) rom.
Remount /system rw at will, with su permission.
With a Nexus, you download simple tools and do just that.
With an HTC or a Sony, you get your bootloader unlock key from them. I think some Motos as well. And then carry on with the traditional method.
With some Samsungs and others, you install a maintenance tool on your PC and force an update of a rooted rom first.
And on some models, and all where the carrier made a deal to not let unlocking keys out, you have to run an app or procedure that exploits a bug to open the system long enough to either unlock the bootloader, install recovery, or install root. When they find out, they send out updates to break the root exploit - until the next one is found. Some phones never get rooted.
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