There’s a reason most Android geeks have such disdain for the other major smartphone operating system. The iPhone shackles the user, with its closed source code and ecosystem ruled with an iron fist. Android, on the other hand, frees developers to tear apart and rebuild nearly every aspect of the user’s experience with the operating system. Beyond the world of developer-created applications (apps), there is a vast universe of deeper customizations—custom kernels and ROMs, themes, CPU overclocks, and more.

In most cases, these tasks begin with gaining “root” access to your device. The goal of this book is to get you comfortable with the tools and vocabulary of Android hacking, to get you in the “root” mindset, and to point you towards the best online resources for expanding your knowledge even further.

First Things First: What Is XDA?

The XDA Developers (XDA) website, at, is the largest smartphone community on the Internet. As the name implies, the site—launched in 2003—is a destination for developers. “XDA” was a line of phones based on Windows Mobile that were branded by O2 and developed by a small (at the time) Taiwanese manufacturer called High Tech Computer Corporation (HTC). According to XDA history:

It was these early O2 XDA devices that the founders of our site thought had much more potential than the sellers O2 and HTC were giving them credit for. With their geeky hats on they cracked them open and began to develop them beyond ...

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