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Some Food for Thought - Bootloaders, Rooting, Manufacturers, and Carriers


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#1 OFFLINE   p3droid

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:06 PM

Bootloaders, Rooting, Manufacturers, and Carriers

Background

I don't believe that I need to introduce myself, but if I do my name is P3Droid. I am a phone enthusiast and have been working in the Android platform for 17 months. I have been very lucky in my short time on the Android platform. I think more than anything I have been lucky enough to be in the right places at the right times. The day I first saw and played with the Droid (OG) I thought “that is the ugliest damn phone I've ever played with”. Then I was asked back into the store by my friend (nameless) to get some time with the Android platform and he began to explain to me how open the phone was and how a “smart” person could do anything they wanted to the phone. That turned what I thought was an ugly phone into the sexiest beast ever. I guess that was approximately October of 2009, and I was excited about the possibilities and dove right in without checking the depth of the water.

I spent much of the year on an open phone and an open platform, and sometime in July I picked up a Droid X. I soon found a great bunch of friends and we formed Team Black Hat. Really wanting to break the bootloader, we spent more hours working on it than we did our 9 – 5 jobs. Eventually we came to the conclusion (with help from some unique resources), that we were not going to accomplish our objective. Every so often we still pluck away at it, but we have moved on to other things that will help people enjoy their Droid phones.

Fast forward to October 2010. I'm still in love with the concept of android, and I've done more than my share of developing, themeing, creating ROMS and even hacking. *Having been involved in so many things and having developed some unique contacts, I have been privy to information that is not disseminated to the masses. Some of this information I was asked to sit on. Some information I sat on because I felt it was best to do so for our entire community. You have probably seen me rant on occasion about what I thought the community was doing wrong and causing itself future pain. Each of those days I had received even more disheartening information. So where does this leave me? It leaves me with a difficult choice to make. What to tell, how much to tell, and do I want to give information out that could possible be slightly wrong. I've worked very hard to verify things through multiple sources, when possible, and some other information comes from sources so reliable that I take them at their word.

This brings me up to today. I've tossed and turned regarding how to say this, and how to express all of the information and my feelings in regards to this information. I guess the solution is to just let you all decide for yourselves what you think and what you want to do.

One Shoe Falls


Beginning in July, we (TBH), began hearing things about Motorola working on ways to make rooting the device more difficult. This was going to be done via Google through the kernel. No big deal we thought, the community always finds a way. When Froyo was released and there was no root for some time we became a bit concerned but soon there was a process and even 1-clicks. This was good news and bad news to me, because it simply meant that they would go back to the drawing board and improve upon what they had done.

During this time there were still little rumors here and there about security of devices, and other such things but nothing solid and concrete. Until November.

The Other Shoe Falls


Beginning in October, the information began coming in faster and it had more of a dire ring to it. It was also coming in from multiple sources. I began to rant a little at the state of our community, and that we were the cause of our own woes. So what did I hear?

[INDENT]1. New devices would present challenges for the community that would most likely be insurmountable, and that Motorola specifically – would be impossible to hack the bootloader. Considering we never hacked the previous 3G phones, this was less than encouraging.
2.Locked bootloaders, and phones were not a Motorola-only issue, that the major manufacturers and carriers had agreed this was the best course of action.(see new HTC devices)
3. The driving forces for device lock down was theft of service by rooted users, the return of non-defective devices due to consumer fraud, and the use of non-approved firmware on the networks.[/INDENT]

I think I posted my first angry message and tweet about being a responsible community soon after getting this information. I knew the hand writing was on the wall, and we would not be able to stop what was coming, but maybe we could convince them we were not all thieves and cut throats.

Moving along, December marked a low point for me. The information started to firm up, and I was able to verify it through multiple channels. This information made the previous information look like a day in the park. So what was new?
[INDENT]1. Multiple carriers were working collaboratively on a program that would be able to identify rooted users and create a database of their meids.
2. Manufacturers who supply Verizon were baking into the roms new security features:
[INDENT]
a. one security feature would identify any phone using a tether program to circumvent paying for tethering services. (check your gingerbread DroidX/Droid2 people and try wireless tether)
b. a second security feature would allow the phone to identify itself to the network if rooted.
c. security item number 2 would be used to track, throttle, even possibly restrict full data usage of these rooted phones.[/INDENT][/INDENT]


The Rubber Meets the Road


So, I wish I had more time to have added this to the original post, but writing something like this takes a lot of time and effort to put all the information into context and provide some form of linear progression.

Lets get on with the story. March of this year was a monumental month for me. The information was unsettling and I felt as if we had a gigantic bulls-eye on our backs.

This is what I have heard:

[INDENT]1. The way that they were able to track rooted users is based on pushing updates to phones, and then tracking which meid's did not take the update. There is more to it than this but that is the simple version.
2. More than one major carrier besides Verizon has implemented this program and that all carriers involved had begun tracking rooted phones. All carriers involved were more than pleased with the accuracy of the program.
[INDENT]1. What I was not told is what the carriers intended to do with this information.[/INDENT]
3. In new builds the tracking would be built into the firmware and that if a person removed the tracking from the firmware then the phone would not be verified on the network (i.e. your phone could not make phone calls or access data).
4. Google is working with carriers and manufacturers to secure phones, and although Google is not working to end hacking, it is working to secure the kernel so that no future applications can maliciously use exploits to steal end-user information. But in order to gain this level of security this may mean limited chances to root the device. (This item I've been told but not yet able to verify through multiple sources – so take it for what you want)
5. Verizon has successfully used its new programs to throttle data on test devices in accordance with the guidelines of the program.
6. The push is to lock down the devices as tight as can be, but also offer un-lockable devices (Think Nexus S). [/INDENT]

The question I've asked is why? Why do all this; why go through so much trouble. The answer I get is a very logical one and one I understand even if I don't like it. It is about the money. With LTE arriving and the higher charges for data and tethering, carriers feel they must bottle up the ability of users to root their device and access this data, circumventing the expensive tethering charges.

What I would like to leave you with is that this is not an initiative unique to Verizon or Motorola, this is industry wide and encompassing many manufacturers.

So what does all this mean? You will need to make your own conjectures about what to think of all of this. But, I think that the rooting, hacking, and modding community - as we know it - is living on borrowed time.

In the final analysis of all this I guess I'll leave you with my feelings:

I will take what comes and turn it into a better brighter day, that is all I can do because I do not control the world.


Disclaimers:
I am intentionally not including any names of sources as they do not want to lose their jobs.
This information is being presented to you as I have received and verified it. *
I only deal with information pertaining to US carriers and have no specific knowledge concerning foreign carriers.

Edited by p3droid, 03 April 2011 - 09:44 AM.

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#2 OFFLINE   ether.real

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:27 PM

The big question here is:

Will Verizon (and other carriers) refuse warranty service for rooted phones?

#3 Guest_Jolly_*

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:32 PM

ether.real said:

The big question here is:

Will Verizon (and other carriers) refuse warranty service for rooted phones?

There is NO Warranty on a Rooted phone. You knew that when you rooted the Device anyone that does a Warranty claim on a Rooted device is stealing which is part of the reason the above information is happening.

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#4 OFFLINE   superdean

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:33 PM

So if there was no free wireless tethering services we wouldnt be in this mess?

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#5 OFFLINE   Stik

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:35 PM

They should.

#6 OFFLINE   ether.real

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:35 PM

Jolly,

While Verizon reserves their right to deny warranty service on a rooted phone, up until now, they have not actively been denying service. The same goes for many manufacturers in many industries. The question is, will they start denying warranty service now?


Just want to add a few other thoughts here:

First of all, thank you p3droid. I have been using your work since my OG Droid. It has always been fantastic.

Secondly, I have been noticing a definite trend on the part of Verizon to become much more hostile to customers in general. In the past, I have been fairly anti- cell contract, that is, until Android swayed me. But now, no more New Every Two, rumors of more stringent return policies, tracking rooted users....I am starting to wonder. I love Verizon's network, and so far the customer support has been good. If that changes, I wonder what options I will have left. Sprint, I guess.

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:38 PM

superdean said:

So if there was no free wireless tethering services we wouldnt be in this mess?

That has alot to do with it but there are a lot of people that don't read and have no clue what the are doing that try things and Soft Brick. And instead of reading they call up and lie and do a warranty claim. As for free tethering my opinion is that if you tether all the time pay the tethered device charge.

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#8 OFFLINE   keejung

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:38 PM

you know you really can't blame them with all the a$$ holes that f@@k up their phones then send them back or connect their xbox... Do we realy did screw our selves... I sure that they would have had no problem with once in a while tether... So my question is where does this leave future phones and development and should we move back to froyo from gb if we do tether once in a while... Or is tbh working on a solution for dx?

#9 OFFLINE   HumanMachine

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:39 PM

What I don't understand, is why they want to charge me to use features which I already have paid for and covered by my unlimited plan? Why do they want to sell me what is essentially a "second line" to use data that I have already bought and paid for? That whole notion makes absolutely no sense to me. I paid for unlimited and use somewhere around 8gb a month between tethering a device or two, and streaming services almost constantly. Why haven't the carriers been brought in line with their own practices to charge for absolutely everything that they deem worthy of a price tag. The network and connections have been steadily drifting towards slower and generally poorer experiences yet they continue to raise the prices higher and higher for the same data stream that has always been there.

Is it seriously just greed? The carriers are always quick to write us off as being a "small population of people" and generally pass off the hacking/rom community as nothing more than a subtle annoyance. When there are crippling bugs on rooted/jailbroken devices... they don't care it's only 1% of the userbase. When they throttle everyone claiming "only 1% of the userbase will be affected don't worry" it, to me, shows an incessant and blatant hypocrisy that is inherent to the system. If they could charge us for how many times we pressed the damn home key they would.

No, This whole fiasco is nothing but bullshit, only serves to make me realize that this is not a sustainable hobby. I think it's about time to start paddling this dingy to shore before things really get out of hand, and things are ripped away from us under the guise of "better for the user experience"

#10 OFFLINE   Stik

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:40 PM

This news is kind of old to me. Our rep told me awhile back that they were working on ways for the network to detect modified devices and would possibly block them from using verizon services. Customer with said device would still be responsible for paying the etf.

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:41 PM

ether.real said:

Jolly,

While Verizon reserves their right to deny warranty service on a rooted phone, up until now, they have not actively been denying service. The same goes for many manufacturers in many industries. The question is, will they start denying warranty service now?


Just want to add a few other thoughts here:

First of all, thank you p3droid. I have been using your work since my OG Droid. It has always been fantastic.

Secondly, I have been noticing a definite trend on the part of Verizon to become much more hostile to customers in general. In the past, I have been fairly anti- cell contract, that is, until Android swayed me. But now, no more New Every Two, rumors of more stringent return policies, tracking rooted users....I am starting to wonder. I love Verizon's network, and so far the customer support has been good. If that changes, I wonder what options I will have left. Sprint, I guess.

My point is that people trying to file a warranty claim on a rooted device for anything other than hardware failure is theft. And it should be denied. Soft Bricked devices should be denied a warranty claim.

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#12 OFFLINE   ether.real

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:41 PM

Stik said:

This news is kind of old to me. Our rep told me awhile back that they were working on ways for the network to detect modified devices and would possibly block them from using verizon services. Customer with said device would still be responsible for paying the etf.

What if the user offered to go back to official unrooted ROM?

#13 OFFLINE   Mission to Mars

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:42 PM

ether.real said:

Jolly,




Secondly, I have been noticing a definite trend on the part of Verizon to become much more hostile to customers in general. In the past, I have been fairly anti- cell contract, that is, until Android swayed me. But now, no more New Every Two, rumors of more stringent return policies, tracking rooted users....I am starting to wonder. I love Verizon's network, and so far the customer support has been good. If that changes, I wonder what options I will have left. Sprint, I guess.

Unfortunately, much of this may be carrier-wide, not necessarily tied to just one carrier's abilities.
I am a GREAT- GRANDMOTHER who LOVES her gadgets!!!!

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:42 PM

keejung said:

you know you really can't blame them with all the a$$ holes that f@@k up their phones then send them back or connect their xbox... Do we realy did screw our selves... I sure that they would have had no problem with once in a while tether... So my question is where does this leave future phones and development and should we move back to froyo from gb if we do tether once in a while... Or is tbh working on a solution for dx?

Thank you

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#15 OFFLINE   Stik

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:42 PM

That I don't know.. I am guessing that once your device is flagged as being modified, you would have to purchase a new device.

#16 OFFLINE   marcfogel

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:43 PM

Aren't we allowed to root and hack our phones. That was challenged by Apple and they lost. I would think if we rooted or hacked our phones and didn't steal services or warranty claims the carriers couldn't do a thing. In addition, if they tried to punish us because of this wouldn't it be a breach of contract.


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#17 OFFLINE   Stik

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:45 PM

You can do whatever the hell you want to your device. That don't mean the carrier has to allow it on their network.

#18 OFFLINE   ether.real

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:45 PM

Stik said:

That I don't know.. I am guessing that once your device is flagged as being modified, you would have to purchase a new device.

That would be a guarantee for me to jump ship to another network.

#19 OFFLINE   p3droid

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:46 PM

I stated in the OP, this is not a VZW/Moto thing, its an industry thing.

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#20 OFFLINE   ndwatkins

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Posted 02 April 2011 - 04:47 PM

I kind of think we can blame them. Yes, you shouldn't brick your phone and then cry to Verizon. But I'm getting tired of hearing people complaining about tethering and those who use a lot of data. They pay for an UNLIMITED DATA PLAN. If the carriers can't handle that, they shouldn't sell it. Furthermore, tethering data and me goofing around in YouTube is the same data. I'm sick of carriers acting like they're justified in charging an outrageous mobile hotspot fee.

For the record, I use less than 2 gb a month. That doesn't change my argument. I get Verizon's/manufacturer's issues with bricking your phone doing something you know is voiding the warranty. P3droid is right about us bringing that one on ourselves. But this data debate has got to stop. That is solely a carrier issue. You cannot argue that a person is abusing his unlimited data plan by using unlimited data.

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