Root vs. Full RootEdit

In the Android world, rooting a phone means granting the owner/user of the phone root (admin) access. In the Linux operating system, root access is granted by becoming a superuser or 'su.' Strictly speaking, a rooted phone is one where superuser can be evoked. However, the typical rooting process goes beyond this by unlocking the bootloader replacing the stock recovery image with a custom recovery. These additional modifications along with the inclusion of superuser is known as a full root. In GSM-based phones, the concept of unlocking the phone should not be confused with rooting. Unlocking refers to the process of making the phone operate on any GSM-based carrier. Rooting a phone has no impact on the carrier-lock if such a lock exists.

Custom RecoveryEdit

A custom recovery provides additional functionality from the stock recovery image including the ability to:

  • perform a factory data reset
  • wipe cache / dalvik cache

Many of the customizations made to a rooted phone is initiated by the custom recovery image.

Custom ROMEdit

A custom ROM is an image that contains a modified version of the stock operating system. The simplest custom ROM is one that is equivalent to the stock operating system with the difference being the inclusion of superuser allowing for root-level access. This custom ROM is referred to as a rooted stock ROM. On the other end of the spectrum are operating systems with heavy modifications to the kernel allowing for additional functionality that might not have been exposed by the manufacturer's stock operating system. These ROMs are typically created by Android enthusiasts and provide their work for the benefit of the community, asking nothing in return except a voluntary donation.

More to come....