May 31 AT 7:41 PM Dima Aryeh 10 Comments

Recent commits to AOSP will, once implemented, prevent write access to /system

generic security lock

We’ve heard talks of future Android versions not being too friendly to root users, but so far, workarounds have been found. The changes seen in AOSP could be avoided with an update to root apps. But the latest changes to AOSP that have been spotted could be a lot more drastic, if implemented.

The newest commits aim to improve security in Android, but at the cost of freedom when rooting. These commits will effectively block all write access to /system when in Android, meaning even root apps won’t be able to access the partition. Modifying files in /system has long been a staple in UI customization, so this would be a significant change to those who love to root stock ROMs.

Luckily, it’s not all bad. /system can still be modified from recovery, so many of these root apps can be updated to reboot your device and perform these changes via scripts. However, some apps will simply have to be redone. Also, custom kernels will bring this functionality back, so Android won’t be any less friendly to the developer community. Only stock ROMs will be affected.

The issue is that many recoveries don’t support this function, so users will have to be running a fairly new recovery. Considering how rarely people actually update the recovery, this may cause issues for users. While it’s not hard to update the recovery, many users will end up blaming root app developers.

We know a lot of people love to root the stock ROM and use that, but with these changes, that will no longer be possible. However, a quick flash of a kernel through recovery will alleviate all these problems. It’s one extra step, but it isn’t a very difficult one. Unless of course you have a device that doesn’t allow custom kernels.

While this news isn’t really all that bad, this might just be the beginning. Google is obviously on a quest to make Android as secure as possible, which is great, but we hope that it won’t make things too tough for root users. Google, you need to remember us phone modders and make sure we can still do what we want with Android devices.

Via: XDA-Developers

Source: +Chainfire

Dima Aryeh is a Russian obsessed with all things tech. He does photography, is an avid phone modder (who uses an AT&T Galaxy Note II), a heavy gamer (both PC and 360), and an aspiring home mechanic. He is also an avid fan of music, especially power metal.

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  • Nigel

    As root

    mount -o remount,rw /system

    Won’t that work any more?

    • Dima Aryeh

      No, with this new change there will be no way to write to /system in the OS. Check out the source link for more info/detail.

    • batlian

      Where it’d

  • Android Man

    If Google start interfering with Modders then Good bye Android, Welcome Apple!!! :P:P:P

  • Wil

    This is exactly the thing that will end up pushing me away from android. I used iOS for a few years and it just got really frustrating waiting for the next exploit and not updating for fear of losing my jailbreak. It’s getting to be (it kind of already is) that way on android as well. On my original galaxy note, I could do whatever I wanted and with my galaxy s4, I’m stuck with a locked bootloader. I like trying out ROMS and customizing my phone but they are making it harder with each iteration.
    At some point I can see giving up or moving to something else. I’m just not sure where at this point.

    • troysyx

      I’m lost, why dont you just unlock the bootloader? if you dont want to do that, then just get a different device that easier to deal with? With iOS you’re stuck! Thats the glory of Android. You like android but not what OEM A has out, but OEM’s B,C,D, etc all have options for you too. Its not a one horse show with Android.

      • jake

        He can’t unlock it, bozo! It can’t be unlocked, bozo! He is undoubtedly on a US carrier that has locked the bootloader. To this date, it hasn’t been cracked. Learn first, then post.

    • tetracycloide

      I feel like it’s clearly the opposite at least when it comes to hardware. Unlocked phones are the insane expense they used to be and google play edition’s of the most popular devices are common. You have to pick the right manufacturer and device though but that’s always been true.

  • tmihai20

    Yeah, I guess more and more people will unlock their bootloader. I always did it, anyway, because I am also using Franco’s kernel on my Nexus 5. They are trying to make it more difficult to root Android, they can’t stop it. Even if they implement this, it will still be a lot easier for Android to be rooted (compared to iOS and WindowsPhone).

  • Drew Foster

    Well, we’ll always have Sailfish and Firefox OS. And Ubuntu Touch (to a lesser degree) and Tizen (assuming the foundation can keep Samsung’s control-freak tendencies in check).

    If the modding/development community withdraws from Android in the future and moves to a new system, Android’s pedestal will be far more vulnerable. After all, that’s more or less how Android rose to prominence to begin with.