T-Mobile’s Froyo-Toting HTC G2 Safe from Jailbreaks, Ships With Self-Repair Rootkit

Written By Sam on 8 October 2010
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There was a lot of hype and anticipation prior to the launch of the HTC G2 on the T-Mobile network. With shipping for the product having started and consumers still soaking in the features of the high-end Android 2.2 Froyo-toting device, there are fresh reports pouring in that the device is safe from jailbreaks. And for the moment, there appears to be no way to root the device to enable users to run their own software and third-party apps.

Gizmodo reports that the phone “ships with a rootkit that will override any changes you make to Android and reinstall the original firmware.” The news has upset users who want absolute control over the hardware they have paid for. Gizmodo too echoes that sentiment:

“So that G2 you bought? It’s not yours. It’s HTC and T-Mobile’s. You’re just borrowing it, and the terms of the loan are entirely non-negotiable.”

The dev forum New America Foundation noted: “…one of the microchips embedded into the G2 prevents device owners from making permanent changes that allow custom modifications to the the Android operating system.” Referring to the failed attempts at rooting the phone NAF said the experience was like installing Linux on a Windows computer one night, and waking up to find Vista back in place.

Developers consider the tactic arrogant on the part of the phone maker and feel if a user has paid for a product, he should be able to use it the way he wants. Even as you read this developers are trying to figure out how the lockdown works.

T-Mobile has responded to the issue saying

Code-Level Modifications to the G2

As pioneers in Android-powered mobile devices, T-Mobile and HTC strive to support innovation. The T-Mobile G2 is a powerful and highly customizable Android-powered smartphone, which customers can personalize and make their own, from the look of their home screen to adding their favorite applications and more.

The HTC software implementation on the G2 stores some components in read-only memory as a security measure to prevent key operating system software from becoming corrupted and rendering the device inoperable. There is a small subset of highly technical users who may want to modify and re-engineer their devices at the code level, known as “rooting,” but a side effect of HTC’s security measure is that these modifications are temporary and cannot be saved to permanent memory. As a result the original code is restored.

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