Devs can’t root Pixel phones yet

The task of rooting an Android device has grown tall recently and with Android Nougat, there are now several roadblocks in the way that would prevent developers from getting in to root the upcoming Pixel phones — built on Nougat from the ground up — with ease.

The first block is a kernel feature in Nougat called “device-mapper-verity” that checks the /system directory of the device while it is booting to see if all the files that should be there are there and in the way they’re supposed to be there. If a single change has been made, your device will not boot. This takes any one-stop app that works by taking advantage of /system vulnerabilities, like Kingrooter, off the table. Vulnerabilities, by the way, that Google has patched.

“device-mapper-verity” verifies /system via a hash tree with a top-layer master root key

XDA-Developers has been looking at loading modified boot images via the RAM. Devs can insert a superuser controller to disable device-mapper-verity and forced encryption.

But apparently, what are being called “systemless root” methods may not work with the Pixel devices because of their dual partitioning. It seems that with the extra partition, the RAM disk becomes critical to what /system needs to boot the device. Thus, with no holes to let superuser disable “dm-verity,” we get no root.

There’s the possibility of loading a modified kernel to get around dm-verity, but users would lose out on OTA updates in the end, never mind the mess it would take to get there.

With the clock ticking towards the release of the Pixel devices, it’ll be interesting to see how far we go without the excitement and flurry of new custom ROM sharing. But the sentiment is that root will be imminent.

Source: XDA-Developers

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.