The next version of Android could potentially stop many of your favorite root apps from working

by: Andrew GrushJanuary 20, 2014

Android 4.4 KitKat

According to well-known developer Chainfire, the next version of Android could be bringing a change that may end up preventing many of your favorite root apps from working — at least not unless developers implement some kind of fix. Now before you get too up-in-arms, it’s important to note that this latest change is not targeted at root apps and is actually a security improvement.

A recent commit to the Android Open Source Project master tree has been spotted that will prevent apps from extracting files to directories located on the /data partition and then executing them as root. The idea is that this could prevent some malicious programs from executing scripts on the /data partition. It’s currently unclear whether this change will actually make its way into the next version of Android, or if it will be changed by the time Android 4.5 (or whatever they call it) rolls out.

The good news is that even if Android does make this security change, it will be possible for developers to make changes that could still allow most root apps to work, even if there is no one universal ‘fix’ that will work for all apps.

[quote qtext=”Potential work-arounds (depending on what your app does) include extracting and running from memory or rootfs (mount namespace separation for the win), piping commands directly to su instead of writing to a .sh first (which was a bad practise anyway), forcing a context switch to a non-unconfined domain by way of suparameter or runcon, etc.” qperson=”Chainfire” qsource=”” qposition=”center”]

So the short-term result could mean that a number of root apps could end up broken if they don’t introduce some kind of workaround in time for the next version of Android. The long-term result is improved security, which is never a bad thing.

In the meantime, it probably wouldn’t hurt to contact your favorite root app developers to ensure they are aware of the issue before the next version of Android hits.

  • Luka Mlinar

    We will find a way. We always do.

    • Jusephe

      Yes, but it starts to look a lot more like a jailbreak now. android is very slowly closing because google wants to completely control everything.

      No choice, everything google.

      • najiy91

        what happened to open source/developer friendly?oem?samsung,sony come on!..stand up!

        • MrMagoo

          I hear you all, but you all do have to realize that the people are asking for lots of things. And security is a big one. The more loose the system, the more of a security risk. Just think of it this way, as Luka said, we will find a way. The harder it is to hack, the more secure it is. The whole point is make our info safer!

      • jeff

        Buy iphone

        • ed9065

          iPhone is already a closed ecosystem

          • Jayfeather787

            Not to mention just down right shitty.

        • Humaan

          For what?

      • trwb

        If I am ever “forced” to use everything Google I will immediately switch platforms.

        • namesib

          To what, though? Every other major platform is already closed and only Android and iOS have decent app markets.

          The problem of oligopolies…

          • vanhoe0

            Jolla, Sailfish etc.

          • Humaan

            I dont know about those.Do they use javascript based apps like tizen’s?. Samsung needs to recreate a universe to place tizen in it.You dont have to worry as long as AOSP is there.

          • Memphis May [S]unjay

            I thought TIzen was HTML5.

          • Humaan


          • Devaughn Miller

            I couldnt have said it any better. What other alternative is there?

          • paxmos

            filip phones

          • TheLZ

            It won’t be long before Ubuntu Touch is ready for prime time.

      • Chris Wortman

        You must be kidding right? You can’t be this stupid… Google Nexus devices are designed to be hacked and different roms be installed onto. They have even put other distros of Linux on the Nexus lines. Google is about as much control as my dog can meow…

  • najiy91

    please make a clean root(not downgrade method) for xperia z1 4.3.somedev please.

    • A.M

      there’s no other way to do it at this moment if you want root this is the way to go why are you being difficult if you want to install a custom ROM then you’ll be over the downgrading

  • Jeffry

    there is a way when there is a will

  • jack

    It will be called 4.5 kitkat.

    • RahulMacwan

      4.5 bitterkat lol

      • TheFirstUniverseKing

        4.5 fucktat

        • j7981

          4.5 lolcat

    • Roberto Tomás

      4.5 Key Lime Pie

  • asd

    I hope the next version is called lollipop and like lollipops it will have different/changeable colours(themes) to suite peoples tastes

  • A.M

    HAte that they want to deny ROOT access not cool at all they should just keep it like it is it’s ONLY for people who know how to use root & knows what it’s used for the average consumer doesn’t care about that

    • najiy91

      agree with you.please reply to mr.magoo down there. i hope sony and samsung still be friendly with developers.long live root!

  • jz100

    Google is turning into Microsoft/Apple. Its sounds more like this will be used as an excuse for “security” when the truth is they want to prevent rooting. It could easily become Google/Androids downfall if they do that. I might as well shop for a Microsoft phone if Google takes away what makes Android so great.

  • Gunsuurge

    A locked-down Android OS ? Yikes!! Over my dead body.

    • Humaan

      It will not be locked down

  • Roberto Tomás

    I dont mind this change, but they need to think about the ways around it and pick one, and streamline it for developers so they can get their root apps up easily.

  • Android Developer

    can anyone please explain which kind of root apps need to use this special scenario?
    what possibilities it gives?

  • Chris Wortman

    I really don’t care about rooting. Rooting many times breaks something for me. Not because I am stupid, unless it is adding something,

  • Tricky

    I don’t understand? Are my security apps a load of bull then? I set root access to ask for permission before it does anything. Are they saying some programs will bypass my security on my phone, and still access my root without permission. And last question, what is the difference between what they are doing, and simply adding a malware blocker plus a adblocker? I know this locks down your /data folder, so its blocking everything, but isn’t there alternative to taking my freedom away. Which is my only selling point for android. Without the freedom I will start seeking alternatives… I feel secure or is it a fallacy?

  • Nadeem Ansari

    The official Android 4.4.2 update for Galaxy Note 3 (SM-N900 and SM-N9005) is now available. Check it out here

  • Pobrecito hablador

    Why not just inform the user with a very informative and severe warning that an app needs root privileges? Let the user chose if he/she wants to put their devices and data in risk

    • STDog

      Because users are stupid. They will just click OK and go on not paying attention.

      Same problem Microsoft has with Windows and why the 9x series was killed off in favor of the NT series.