Bootloaders and the Very Basics of Android Hacking

Bootloaders and the Very Basics of Android Hacking

Written by:  Daniel Kolobaric • Edited by: Simon Hill
Published Jun 20, 2011 • Related Guides: Android
Android is the most open mobile phone platform out there. This principle is not always carried over to consumers by phone producers. We discuss the basics of Android customization and explain the role of the bootloader in this process.

The Very Core of Android Customization

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Ever since the operating system has been released, Android has attracted a more tech-savvy crowd of users who like the level of customization it offers. The open character of Android has lured many users in, helping the platform as a whole increase its market share at a pace that nobody could have predicted. But what is it really that makes Android ‘open’ and unique?
One of the core principles of the mobile OS is that you can basically do anything with it, which includes ‘rooting’ and the installation of custom ROMs. Although it may in some cases void the warranty, users like to fiddle around with their devices for a variety of reasons. Many manufacturers like to load up their Android devices with a custom overlay, of which HTC Sense is a good example, and some users want to use a different version altogether. Others just want to improve on what is offered and some want to be able to overclock or undervolt their hardware.
Whatever the purpose, getting your Android device to play nice with customization will require the ‘bootloader’ to be unlocked. We explain what the bootloader is, how it behaves and what the consequences are of a locked down bootloader, which is the case with some devices.
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