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[Q] Root available for ASUS MeMO Pad 10 (ME103K)?

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By Torkkis, Junior Member on 20th May 2015, 09:39 AM
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Greetings!

First of all, I am sorry if this is on the wrong section of the forum. Nevertheless i've tried few rooting applications which are stated to be compatible with this ME103K model, but with no results.. Also many fake sites trying to lure you to purchase something.

Is there anyone who could provide me information on how to root my ASUS ME103K tablet? Should I also try every rooting application available out there or is this useless? Can I verify if they are compatible without all the way installing and running them on the device? (Sorry don't know much about this stuff =)! )

Thank you very much in advance
14th October 2015, 01:20 PM |#2  
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I rooted ME103K on my own - by compiling a custom kernel
Executive summary: Go to youtube and watch video with ID "gqubgQjqfHw" (I can't post links yet, sorry! ) - or search Youtube for "Rooting MemoPAD10 (ME103K) with my custom compiled kernel"

Analysis:

I hated the fact that my recently purchased MemoPAD10 (ME103K) tablet had no open process to allow me to become root. I don't trust the closed-source one-click root apps that use various exploits, and require communicating with servers in.... China. Why would they need to do that? I wonder...

I therefore decided this was a good opportunity for me to study the relevant documentation and follow the steps necessary to build an Android kernel for my tablet. I then packaged my custom-compiled kernel into my custom boot image, and the video shows how I boot from it and become root in the process.

Note that I didn't burn anything in my tablet - it's a 'tethered' root, it has no side-effects.

If you are a developer, you can read in detail about the steps I had to take to modify the kernel (and su.c) and become root - by reading the questions (and answers!) that I posted in the Android StackExchange forum ( can't post links yet, see the video description in Youtube ).

If you are not a developer, you can download my custom boot image from the link below - but note that this means you are trusting me to not do evil things to your tablet as my kernel boots and my /sbin/su is run

Honestly, I haven't done anything weird - I just wanted to run a debootstrapped Debian in my tablet, and succeeded in doing so. But I am also worried about the cavalier attitude I see on the web about rooting your devices - if you want to be truly safe, you must either do what I did (and recompile the kernel yourself) or absolutely trust the person that gives it to you. I do wish Google had forced a UI-accessible "become root" option in Android, just as Cyanogen does (sigh).

The image I created and used in the video to boot in rooted mode, is available from the link show in the Youtube video details.

Enjoy!
4th November 2015, 05:21 PM |#3  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttsiodras

Executive summary: Go to youtube and watch video with ID "gqubgQjqfHw" (I can't post links yet, sorry! ) - or search Youtube for "Rooting MemoPAD10 (ME103K) with my custom compiled kernel"

Analysis:

I hated the fact that my recently purchased MemoPAD10 (ME103K) tablet had no open process to allow me to become root. I don't trust the closed-source one-click root apps that use various exploits, and require communicating with servers in.... China. Why would they need to do that? I wonder...

I therefore decided this was a good opportunity for me to study the relevant documentation and follow the steps necessary to build an Android kernel for my tablet. I then packaged my custom-compiled kernel into my custom boot image, and the video shows how I boot from it and become root in the process.

Note that I didn't burn anything in my tablet - it's a 'tethered' root, it has no side-effects.

If you are a developer, you can read in detail about the steps I had to take to modify the kernel (and su.c) and become root - by reading the questions (and answers!) that I posted in the Android StackExchange forum ( can't post links yet, see the video description in Youtube ).

If you are not a developer, you can download my custom boot image from the link below - but note that this means you are trusting me to not do evil things to your tablet as my kernel boots and my /sbin/su is run

Honestly, I haven't done anything - I just wanted to run a deboot-strapped Debian in my tablet. But I am also worried about the cavalier attitude I see on the web about rooting your devices - if you want to be truly safe, you must either do what I did (and recompile the kernel yourself) or absolutely trust the person that gives it to you. I do wish Google had forced a UI-accessible "become root" option in Android, just as Cyanogen does (sigh).

The image I created and used in the video to boot in rooted mode, is available from the link show in the Youtube video details.

Enjoy!

Hello ttsiodras,

I had the same problem as OP and didn't want to go the "chinese route" either, especially since there seem to be conflicting reports on whether it works on the ME103k or not so I tried your solution - with mixed results...

Disclaimer: I'm totally new to Android (colour me unpleasantly surprised) and have little experience in Linux, so for further reference I would consider myself an advanced noob. Please keep this in mind when evaluating my claims or judging what I have done so far or am capable of doing by myself in the future.

What I did:
- become developer in the ME103k by tapping the system build repeatedly, then allowing debugging via USB
- use ADB to boot into the bootloader
- use fastboot to boot your boot.rooted.img

What happened:
- I did get root access
- the tab now always boots into the bootloader, even when told via ADB or fastboot to boot normally or into recovery. Pushing buttons etc doesn't seem to work either
- my attempts to do a recovery via the vanilla Asus method has failed due to the same fact that boot never gets past fastboot

Since you claimed in your description that there would be no side-effects since it is a tethered root I am somewhat puzzled as to what exactly happened. From what I understand - which admittedly isn't a lot - what should have happened is that your boot image is loaded, giving me root access until the next reboot without changing anything about the default boot process or image. I read somewhere else that this is how people test out different kernels with fastboot before deciding on which one they want to use on their devices. The whole boot process being changed and corrupted in a way that makes the tablet non-rebootable without having the cable and an adb- and fastboot-capable machine nearby is not really what I would have expected going by your description.

Of course it is entirely possible (and probably even rather likely) that I got something wrong along the way or there is a simple fix to my problem I am not aware of.

As for possible steps maybe you or someone else in the forum could point me to a way to return my tablet to factory settings before risking damaging it beyond repair. I'm assuming that it should be possible and rather straightforward to recover the original setup with the firmware provided by Asus (downloaded the newest version from the homepage) but to be honest I'm a bit scared to go ahead with it before knowing for sure how to do this safely.

One thing seems certain: I won't be able to do it the way Asus says I should unless I can somehow get into normal or recovery boot modes again. I do however still have root access and am able to run fastboot and ADB including shell on the tablet, so it should be possible.

I would certainly appreciate any help very much

Thanks
5th November 2015, 12:04 PM |#4  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drsiegberterne

. . . From what I understand - which admittedly isn't a lot - what should have happened is that your boot image is loaded, giving me root access until the next reboot without changing anything about the default boot process or image. I read somewhere else that this is how people test out different kernels with fastboot before deciding on which one they want to use on their devices.

Your understanding is correct - that's exactly what should have happened.

I can assure you that the kernel I compiled is formed from the Asus sources with the 2 patches I made that have *nothing* to do with the bootloader - they patch the way that the kernel allows dropping privileges and thus allowing root level access.

Something else must have happened - did you by any chance "burn" the image? i.e. `(DONT DO THIS) fastboot flash boot boot.rooted.img` instead of `fastboot boot boot.rooted.img`?

I did not advocate for burning precisely because it is unpredictable - manufactures sometimes require signing images with their private keys before allowing a boot image to boot (AKA "locked bootloaders") which means that any attempt to burn may lead to weird configurations. . .

If you did burn it, maybe you can try burning the original "boot.img" from the Asus OTA (Over the Air) update .zip file (avaible as a big download at the ASUS site - "UL-K01E-WW-12.16.1.12-user.zip" )

I know of no way to help you with the current state of your tablet, except to "ease the pain" by saying that rebooting to fastboot is always "recoverable" - you can always boot into my own (rooted) kernel or the original (from the ASUS .zip file) with `fastboot boot <whatever_image>`. No "harm" can happen from this - as you correctly said, it's the way to try new kernels and images.

UPDATE - after more reverse engineering:

I had a look into the contents of the boot loader running inside the ME103K, and I am pretty sure that if you execute this at fastboot...

# fastboot oem reset-dev_info
# fastboot reboot

... you will get back to normal, un-tethered bootings of your ME103K.

Thanassis.
5th November 2015, 02:48 PM |#5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttsiodras

Your understanding is correct - that's exactly what should have happened.

I can assure you that the kernel I compiled is formed from the Asus sources with the 2 patches I made that have *nothing* to do with the bootloader - they patch the way that the kernel allows dropping privileges and thus allowing root level access.

Something else must have happened - did you by any chance "burn" the image? i.e. `(DONT DO THIS) fastboot flash boot boot.rooted.img` instead of `fastboot boot boot.rooted.img`?

I did not advocate for burning precisely because it is unpredictable - manufactures sometimes require signing images with their private keys before allowing a boot image to boot (AKA "locked bootloaders") which means that any attempt to burn may lead to weird configurations. . .

If you did burn it, maybe you can try burning the original "boot.img" from the Asus OTA (Over the Air) update .zip file (avaible as a big download at the ASUS site - "UL-K01E-WW-12.16.1.12-user.zip" )

I know of no way to help you with the current state of your tablet, except to "ease the pain" by saying that rebooting to fastboot is always "recoverable" - you can always boot into my own (rooted) kernel or the original (from the ASUS .zip file) with `fastboot boot <whatever_image>`. No "harm" can happen from this - as you correctly said, it's the way to try new kernels and images.

Thanassis.

Hi Thanassis,

thanks for your quick reply and your efforts. I'm actually around 85% sure I did not flash the image but since I had no Linux on my computer at the time (I know shame on me) I used a Mac and the command line was a bit different. Since I had never used ADB or fastboot I relied on some guide that explained how to even get into the bootloader and might have gotten something wrong.

On the other hand I later read out the commands I used in the Mac shell and couldn't find anything other than the things I should have done and described earlier, so as far as I can tell this all should never have happened. It may be interesting to point out here that the "stuck in fastboot" mode happened immediately after the first time I loaded your kernel and I most definitely just wrote fastboot boot boot.rooted.img at that point.

As for fixing the problem now it's not only about the inconvenience of the whole thing. I also later (after I was already stuck in fastboot mode) installed some apps for helping me manage privileges of different apps (xposed framework and xprivacy) which turned out to not be compatible in some way or another. So now not only is my tablet not booteable in a normal way but its also cluttered with even more useless stuff than before and I would really like to just reset it before thinking about any other possibilities.

If I flash boot the original ASUS boot image found in the file you described and which i dowloaded already, shouldn't that fix the problem if I accidentally did flash your boot image? Or will there be even more trouble?

Alternatively isn't there a manual way to flash the whole zipped recovery image or am I misunderstanding what this ASUS file actually contains?

And which of the two options is safer to try first or in other words - which one might break the tablet once and for all?

Thanks again and sorry for my incompetence
5th November 2015, 03:03 PM |#6  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drsiegberterne

Hi Thanassis,

If I flash boot the original ASUS boot image found in the file you described and which i dowloaded already, shouldn't that fix the problem if I accidentally did flash your boot image? Or will there be even more trouble?
. . .
Alternatively isn't there a manual way to flash the whole zipped recovery image or am I misunderstanding what this ASUS file actually contains?
. . .
Thanks again and sorry for my incompetence

No, don't be sorry We are all either choosing to learn in this world (i.e. make mistakes and learn from them), or choose to remain stuck in ignorance. I applaud your efforts in properly rooting the tablet. . .

To the point - remember, you are root now ; whatever apps you installed, you can definitely uninstall them. You don't necessarily need to wipe it.

If you do want to, I'd suggest booting in recovery and doing it the normal way that Asus recommends. Since you said "buttons don't work", you may want to try using the original recovery .img - i.e. "fastboot boot recovery.img". I'd love to suggest a link from ASUS, but they don't host it (which is bad - they really should) - so instead go to "goo" dot "gl" slash "noegkY" - this will point you to a discussion where a kind soul is sharing his ME103K recovery.img.

Booting from the recovery will allow you to install the ASUS OTA update - and probably try cleaning cache partition, etc

Good luck!
5th November 2015, 07:12 PM |#7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttsiodras

No, don't be sorry We are all either choosing to learn in this world (i.e. make mistakes and learn from them), or choose to remain stuck in ignorance. I applaud your efforts in properly rooting the tablet. . .

To the point - remember, you are root now ; whatever apps you installed, you can definitely uninstall them. You don't necessarily need to wipe it.

If you do want to, I'd suggest booting in recovery and doing it the normal way that Asus recommends. Since you said "buttons don't work", you may want to try using the original recovery .img - i.e. "fastboot boot recovery.img". I'd love to suggest a link from ASUS, but they don't host it (which is bad - they really should) - so instead go to "goo" dot "gl" slash "noegkY" - this will point you to a discussion where a kind soul is sharing his ME103K recovery.img.

Booting from the recovery will allow you to install the ASUS OTA update - and probably try cleaning cache partition, etc

Good luck!

The problem here is that he doesn't seem to have the same version as on my tablet. I have the newest version with Lollipop while this seems to be at least a couple of patches earlier with a completely different version of Android. Won't I risk breaking things even more if I try to apply this - as in trying to recover a recovery that is not on my tablet since certainly the recovery.img doesn't contain all the information needed since it's only 10 MB.

As you can probably guess the whole discussion in your link about what part of the system is broken and how to fix it goes right over my head. It also seems like they did not find a satisfactory solution in the end (short of sending the tablet to ASUS). As you can imagine I'm at quite a loss what to try and what not out of fear to make things worse. At least for now I can still use the tablet to do the things I need it to do.

Thanks for your help anyway, I will try to read up more on the topic and decide what to do next.
5th November 2015, 07:25 PM |#8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drsiegberterne

The problem here is that he doesn't seem to have the same version as on my tablet. I have the newest version with Lollipop while this seems to be at least a couple of patches earlier with a completely different version of Android. Won't I risk breaking things even more if I try to apply this - as in trying to recover a recovery that is not on my tablet since certainly the recovery.img doesn't contain all the information needed since it's only 10 MB.
Thanks for your help anyway, I will try to read up more on the topic and decide what to do next.

I understand how you feel - your tablet is operational now (OK, with the annoyance that you need to boot it in "tethered mode") - so you rightfully fear that you may mess things up with further steps.

Just to clarify something - the recovery img is something that works on its own ; it has no dependency on what kind of Android image is installed in the /system partition.

If you do decide to do it, "fastboot boot recovery.img" will bring you to a spartan menu, showing options that allow you to apply an update (i.e. the ASUS update you downloaded!), clean the /cache partition, etc.

Choose "install update from SD card" (use volume up/down to choose, power btn to select), and navigate to your SD card, where you will have placed the big .zip file from ASUS.

The recovery process will begin, and your tablet will be "wiped" with the image from ASUS. Reboot, and be patient while the tablet boots up - it will be just like the first time you started it (i.e. install from scratch).

Whatever you decide - good luck!
7th November 2015, 03:41 PM |#9  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttsiodras

I understand how you feel - your tablet is operational now (OK, with the annoyance that you need to boot it in "tethered mode") - so you rightfully fear that you may mess things up with further steps.

Just to clarify something - the recovery img is something that works on its own ; it has no dependency on what kind of Android image is installed in the /system partition.

If you do decide to do it, "fastboot boot recovery.img" will bring you to a spartan menu, showing options that allow you to apply an update (i.e. the ASUS update you downloaded!), clean the /cache partition, etc.

Choose "install update from SD card" (use volume up/down to choose, power btn to select), and navigate to your SD card, where you will have placed the big .zip file from ASUS.

The recovery process will begin, and your tablet will be "wiped" with the image from ASUS. Reboot, and be patient while the tablet boots up - it will be just like the first time you started it (i.e. install from scratch).

Whatever you decide - good luck!

Okay, a little update from the battlefront:

I tried the recovery image and did get into the menu, however the recovery failed with the same two error messages as in your earlier link ("footer is wrong" and "signature verification failed"). My output from fastboot getvar all is also very similar to the one from that guy except I have a different bootloader version than him (3.03).

Another thing I noticed is that if I boot the standard boot.img found in the ASUS zip it will recognize the internal sdcard normally, however when I boot your rooted image the internal memory doesn't seem to be recognized, at least not through the pre-installed file manager. Downloading a file to the internal storage also failed while rooted but all the apps and the OS itself so far seem totally unaffected otherwise.

My last resort at the moment is the fastboot flash boot boot.img but I have little hope it would change anything since in the thread you linked they proposed just that and if it had worked they probably would have mentioned it.

Can it theoretically break the tablet even more? I would hate to have to send it in because I completely bricked it...
9th November 2015, 01:56 PM |#10  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drsiegberterne

Okay, a little update from the battlefront:

Another thing I noticed is that if I boot the standard boot.img found in the ASUS zip it will recognize the internal sdcard normally, however when I boot your rooted image the internal memory doesn't seem to be recognized.

Not the case for me - everything works fine (including internal and external sdcard), so it's definitely not my kernel causing this.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drsiegberterne

My last resort at the moment is the fastboot flash boot boot.img but I have little hope it would change anything since in the thread you linked they proposed just that and if it had worked they probably would have mentioned it.
Can it theoretically break the tablet even more? I would hate to have to send it in because I completely bricked it...

Flashing is always dangerous (from what you've said, I actually theorize that you did, actually, flash already...)
I doubt this will solve the boot issue, to be honest - if I were you, I'd continue to boot tethered (with my image when you need root access, and (maybe) the Asus image when you don't). Myself, I always boot my own bootimage, since I have zero problems with it, and it allows me to run a complete Debian distro in a chroot (thus making my tablet a full-blown UNIX server - e.g. I run privoxy on it to filter all stupid ads in all apps on the tablet, etc).

No matter what you decide, good luck!

Thanassis.
9th November 2015, 09:06 PM |#11  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttsiodras

Not the case for me - everything works fine (including internal and external sdcard), so it's definitely not my kernel causing this.



Flashing is always dangerous (from what you've said, I actually theorize that you did, actually, flash already...)
I doubt this will solve the boot issue, to be honest - if I were you, I'd continue to boot tethered (with my image when I need root access, and (maybe) the Asus image when I don't). Myself, I always boot my own bootimage, since I have zero problems with it, and it allows me to run a complete Debian distro in a chroot (thus making my tablet a full-blown UNIX server - e.g. I run privoxy on it to filter all stupid ads in all apps on the tablet, etc).

No matter what you decide, good luck!

Thanassis.

I already tried to flash the original boot.img yesterday but it didn't change anything as you correctly assumed so I guess for now there is nothing more to do. I might write to the Asus support and maybe send the tablet in if it is free of charge for me (which I doubt). The only other option is to spend the next months to get sufficiently versed in Android to actually fix the problems myself but even for that I would probably need some files or source code from Asus. I find it rather disappointing the way these "closed" systems work nowadays, with the advancement of Linux and Open Source I really would have expected the opposite to be true but apparently people care more about convenience than actually being able to use the tools they buy in the way they want to.

Getting these Android devices like buying a hammer that can't hammer things in on Sundays.
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