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Ask Slashdot: Tablet With Root Access By Default? 168

Posted by timothy
from the oh-you-want-everything dept.
hweimer writes "I am looking for a small (7") tablet that comes with root access out of the box. I know, I could get one of the usual suspects and root it myself, but I don't want to waste my time in the process and end up voiding my warranty. Basically, I'd like to use it for web browsing, reading PDFs and accessing my e-mails via SSH (extra bonus for X11 forwarding). Any good suggestions, or should I wait for Tizen devices to hit the market?"
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Ask Slashdot: Tablet With Root Access By Default?

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  • n900 (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:38AM (#38136086)

    I know it's a little dated, and not as fancy as other tablets, but it has everything you just asked for, along with X11 forwarding. I'd strongly suggest taking a look at it. You can even use it as a phone if you'd like. I think they are about $250 now.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      From TFS:

      "I am looking for a small (7") tablet that comes with root access out of the box.

      • by morgauxo (974071)
        When somebody is looking for something that is rare, non-existent, hard to find or really expensive it isn't a bad thing to mention but... here is something much easier to get that is ALMOST what you are looking for...
      • by slinches (1540051)

        It may not be the best choice for someone who has trouble with near field vision, but the resolution of the N900 is 800x480 which is the same as any of the available 7" tablets in a similar price range.

  • Viewsonic G-Tablet (Score:4, Informative)

    by rwa2 (4391) * on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:40AM (#38136124) Homepage Journal

    Still a pretty decent device considering it's over a year old now.

    You don't have to root it per se, but you do want to put on VeganTab or some other ROM (which likely voids the warranty, but the device is cheap for a dual 1Ghz Tegra with a 10" screen... <$250 these days). There's no "jailbreak" step like most other devices. Just put the ROM in the right place and reboot.

    The Android market works great now (very improved from the situation before!), so you can load Google Earth and just about anything else without any hassle.

    Also have one of these cheap USB keyboard cases [amazon.com] for it. Even with that, it still ends up being less bulky yet more fun than my old EeePC 901.

    Unfortunately, Android doesn't work great with physical keyboards yet (all kinds of focus issues, and the Ctrl key annoyingly doesn't work in ConnectBot).

    • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:42AM (#38136158)

      The downside to the G-Tablet is the older, broken revision of the Tegra 2 silicon and the low quality TN-panel.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      >>Unfortunately, Android doesn't work great with physical keyboards yet (all kinds of focus issues, and the Ctrl key annoyingly doesn't work in ConnectBot).

      Yeah, I have a transformer, which bakes the keyboard into the design of the tablet, and it's amazing how few apps support keyboards. You know, things like PDF readers not allowing pageup/pagedown/home/end keys to work, things which are, you know, actually useful to improving the PDF reading experience.

    • by amiga3D (567632)

      I'd like to see it just run Debian or some other linux distro. Why have to be saddled with Android?

      • by rwa2 (4391) *

        Yeah, I've been playing with the "Linux Installer" app, but it never quite runs its scripts successfully. But if you can get it to work you can pretty much debootstrap and ARM dist of debian in a loop device that you can chroot into and pretty much run anything you can install with apt through ConnectBot or AndroidVNC.

        You're still saddled with Android for driver support, but at this point that seems to be a good thing on most devices. Haven't been too encouraged by progress on direct ports of Linux, but s

  • by Microlith (54737) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:41AM (#38136132)

    None. Every tablet with Android has to be rooted and vendors are working very, very hard to fight the small percentage of users that do root. The closest you can get are tablets that don't sign the kernel and allow you to customize the OS (load cyanogenmod or something) but increasingly vendors are on the attack against that (B&N clamping down on the Nook Tablet, Samsung pushing out an update that locks down the platform.)

    Tizen-based devices will, thus far, simply allow for a more standard *nix platform and other ready-made and compatible distributions, but that still requires you work your way through the first line of vendor hostilities (platsec misused against you) and then the second line of vendor hostilities (proprietary, signed bootloader and possibly a checksummed kernel.)

    It's extra shitty in the mobile space these days, especially for those who like to do a little more than blindly consume.

    • by Andy Dodd (701)

      What Samsung update are you talking about?

      The only cases of updates enforcing any sort of "lockdown" that I know of is disabling nvflash mode on the Tab 10.1 (Odin mode still works fine for flashing) and implementing the "custom binary count" counter on their phones. Samsung is, if anything, very developer-friendly.

      • They released a bootloader-locking update for the original Galaxy Tab a while back, IIRC... maybe he's referring to that.

        • by Andy Dodd (701)

          Looks like they've only done this once with the original Froyo/Gingerbread Tab series.

          They've moved (as mentioned in some threads on the subject) to signed-but-not-locked bootloaders (Including later software updates for the Tabs based on what I can read.)

          Samsung's current strategy is to verify the signature of any kernel flashed in download (Odin) mode. If the kernel is not a signed Samsung release, the bootloader increments a "custom binary count" counter and pops up a warning screen until you flash an o

    • The closest you can get are tablets that don't sign the kernel and allow you to customize the OS (load cyanogenmod or something) but increasingly vendors are on the attack against that (B&N clamping down on the Nook Tablet, Samsung pushing out an update that locks down the platform.)

      Uh...would that be the same Samsung that donated [phandroid.com] Galaxy S II phones to the cyanogenmod devs, so they could get it working well with the platform? What update are you talking about? They seem very friendly to the rooting and custom rom community.

    • by ichthus (72442)
      I didn't have to root my Nook Color. I booted an image from the microSD, installed Clockwork recovery and then proceeded to CM7. No rooting necessary.
      • by Enfixed (2423494)
        Same here, go for the Nook Color, get a class 10 micro SD card and live happily ever after. Cyanogen Mod works great on mine. Seriously though, you didn't list anything that would actually require root so why does it even matter?
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @02:17PM (#38139674)

          class 10 micro SD card

          Um, no. Do NOT get a class 10 SD card if you are planning to boot from the SD card. Class 10 is optimized for sequential read/write of large files. It will have very poor random access performance. It is an unavoidable trade-off. Running an OS is mostly random small read/writes. Get a SanDisk class 4 card, or any other card with high scores on the "4K Random Write" benchmark. See this [xda-developers.com] thread for more details (the thread refers to WP7 but the same is true for Android)..

      • by ArhcAngel (247594)
        The Nook Color would be my recommendation as well. It may only have a single core 800MHz processor but I haven't had any issues doing everything you require it to do. The simplicity of putting a custom ROM on it is second to none and the screen is excellent. With them selling for less than $150 refurbished there's really no reason to worry about voiding a warranty.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)

      No, but some make it trivially easy to root their tablets. See: Amazon Fire, Asus Transformer.

  • by Guspaz (556486) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:44AM (#38136176)

    None of the things that you said you want to do require root access. Web browsing, SSH, X11 forwarding, PDFs... You can do that all with an Android device without rooting. Heck, you can do that with an Apple device without jailbreaking.

    • Exactly. This is a great example of "are you using the right tool for the right job?" Does hweimer want to actually take a tablet and start learning the innards of the software or do they just want something convenient to carry around the house or the neighborhood that does basic things? Richard Stallman makes is career and life out of using nothing but free software that he understands from top to bottom. He makes a good point but he's an extreme case. My personal advise is don't get caught up in the

    • by Pharmboy (216950)

      If that is all he wants to do with a 7 inch tablet, why would he spend $500+ for a 10" Apple device? Too much product, too much money.

      Kindle Fire. He needs sound exactly like my needs. I own the Fire, it has a lot of limitations, but they are things I don't care about. I read, I check facebook, play free games, check out gnews and y&g email, I mail myself PDFs of book (Amazon has tons of free books as well). I have no intention of BUYING books from Amazon, (I do buy other stuff from them) but I like

    • by sgt scrub (869860)

      You can do X11 forwarding on Android devices?

    • by hweimer (709734)

      I do not want to invest my time into getting familiar with a device whose artificial limitations are guaranteed to make my life miserable at some point in the future, even if it does not present an immediate problem right now. For example, one thing I didn't mention is running an OpenVPN client. That definitely requires root access.

      • by Guspaz (556486)

        Fair enough, although it looks like you're not going to get x11 on Android, rooted or otherwise.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    choose your OS : meego, mer, android, win ...

    Well it's not really a tablet but a tactile netbook ...

    http://rzr.online.fr/q/atom

    I am also looking for a opensource firmware android tablet :

    http://www.androidquestions.org/threads/333-Opensource-firmware-android-tablet

  • Nook Color (Score:5, Informative)

    by afidel (530433) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:45AM (#38136198)
    Nook Color, it boots from the CF slot first so you just put down your own OS on a CF card and should you ever have a problem you just pull the card and it's back to factory fresh.
    • Just remember that the Nook Color is wifi only, has no camera, and no microphone unless you use bluetooth. And as it stands right now, the bluetooth connection has a VERY limited range. Also, the mSD card you get can make or break whether or not it is stable. Your best bet is with a Sandisk class 2 or class 4 mSD card. Higher class cards lead to instability and force closes, and other brand cards can be hit-or-miss.
    • by hweimer (709734)

      Thanks for pointing this out, this is the best suggestion I have seen so far.

  • Archos 101 G9 (Score:5, Informative)

    by BlueCoder (223005) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:46AM (#38136210)

    Everything you could pretty much want. But only 16GB. Only one SD slot. Wish they had a way to upgrade the on-board flash to larger capacities. We seriously need a smaller footprint for SSD's. Would be perfect with 128gb.

    You can put whatever OS you want on it and the manufacturer encourages it, it just happens to come with android which is Linux under the covers.

    • I'm not sure about the G9, but the tablet is somewhat locked up in previous generations. But you can install the firmware from their site which unlocks it (and voids your warranty). I have a 101 G8
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Their website does mention warranty-voiding, but at least in the G8 series, and I assume G9 as well, they only mean by that that they are not responsible for software problems resulting from the unlocking. I asked Archos' tech support before unlocking my 43 G8, and they said that hardware problems will continue to be covered. I subsequently had hardware problems and they sent me a replacement with no difficulties.

  • by Stonent1 (594886) <stonent&stonent,pointclark,net> on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:51AM (#38136284) Journal
    "I am looking for people who know how to use google out of the box. I know, I could get one of the usual suspects and post my question on slashdot, but I don't want to waste my time in the process and end up voiding my status as being too important to look it up myself. Basically, I like to tell people I'm a power user but really I'm not. Any good suggestions, or should I ask Siri?"
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @11:02AM (#38136426)

      Googling will get you every two bit opinion on Earth. At least by asking Slashdot, you're narrowing the two-bit opinions to an audience that would more than likely know for sure.

      I once asked my brother (also in IT) his opinion on something IT related. He said, "let me google that. Here you go."

      I replied, "I did that, thank you. I wanted your opinion and your experience if any."

      Here's another example of where googling can be a dumb idea - car repair. If you don't know much about cars, you will be led down some expensive paths.

      All google seems to get you many times is the Earth wide Peanut Gallery.

    • by iceaxe (18903)

      OK, that's funny.

      But...

      The point of these is not so much for the person asking the question to get The Best Answer (tm) but rather to spark an interesting discussion which many will enjoy and possibly learn from. Over the years I've learned a TON of useful or entertaining things from Ask Slashdot discussions, many of which I would never have known to ask about in a google search or otherwise.

      From this discussion I've already learned about Tizen [tizen.org] which I had never heard of before today. I also enjoyed a few

  • by masterpiga (1590499) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:52AM (#38136296)

    I cannot speak for the upcoming Transformer Prime, but its predecessor TF101 can be rooted extremely easily (no time wasted here).
    OTA updates keep working and the rooting can easily be undone (actually, the device gets automatically un-rooted every time you do an OTA update).
    The super simple rooting procedure is discussed here: http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1198303 [xda-developers.com]
    You basically just download a jar to your computer, connect the tablet via USB and follow the instructions on screen. It takes less than 5 minutes. I cannot guarantee that it does not invalidate the warranty, but I would say it doesn't.

  • What tablet needs root access to use a web browser, check email, read pdfs, or use SSH?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:57AM (#38136372)

    I had good experiences with this $200 SmartQ 7 7" tablet which I got 3 years ago (for $200). Runs an Ubuntu build that's mostly in english; apt-get did everything i needed to get my remote desktop on. I don't have a Nook so I'm not sure how it compares.

    The supplier I used seems to be out of stock, but presumably there are others:
    http://www.dealextreme.com/p/smartdevices-smartq-7-7-0-touchscreen-linux-mid-internet-tablet-667mhz-cpu-wifi-bluetooth-1gb-27904

    • I recommend the slightly newer V7 over the older Q7.

      Also SmartDevices has a number of even newer tablets, but they are single-boot. (R7, T7, Ten)

  • by macwhizkid (864124) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:58AM (#38136376)

    "web browsing, reading PDFs and accessing my e-mails via SSH"

    Yes, if only there were a single tablet on the market that didn't require rooting to do such complicated tasks as web browsing, reading PDFs, or even [android.com] a [google.com] single [apple.com] SSH [apple.com] client [google.com].

    Look, I'm all in favor of individuals having control of their devices. But I'm pretty sure there's a reason nobody sells a rooted tablet that does exactly the same things as everyone else's tablets. If you can't even answer why you need root access, don't expect to find a product that will.

    • As for SSH, please see peterbye's comment [slashdot.org].
  • by codegen (103601) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @10:58AM (#38136384) Journal
    Its been a while since I checked, but Archos used to make a complete source dump with build instructions for you to rebuild the version of android they use. They use an older 2.2 version, but they seem to be relatively hacker friendly.
  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @11:07AM (#38136498)

    Any good suggestions, or should I wait for Tizen devices to hit the market?

    I haven't seen much from Tizen beyond their initial press release. And, yes, I subscribe to their mailing list. So I would speculate that it is all chartware at the moment. Maybe we will see a Tizen SDK next year sometime. And maybe even devices in 2013. Or maybe, like Maemo and MeeGo before it, just before it is ready to go prime time . . . someone will say, "Hey, let's give it a new name and start all over again, yippee!"

    MeeGoo is already alive and kicking on the Nokia N9. It's a lot of fun having a cell phone that you can VNC to, mount with SSHFS, etc. Is all this necessary? No, but it's fun.

  • All tablets and phones got root access by default. It just isn't you. But "they" got access.

    Remember, mobile devices are like Windows 95. Lets share!

  • by walterbyrd (182728) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @11:14AM (#38136600)

    Costco is selling the Vizio 8 for $189. Go to slickdeals.net, and you can probably find an A1 for $199.

  • 9" but still root (Score:4, Informative)

    by Pheonix28 (1362095) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @11:42AM (#38137068)
    it is 9" but he HP Touchpad doesn't have to be rooted. Simply enter developer mode ( just type webos20090606) and you've got root access. If not for poor decision making by execs and poor advertising more people would understand just how much you can do with WebOS and the touchpad.
    • by hweimer (709734)

      I know this, but I am looking for a smaller (and lighter) device, and I'd rather buy something which is at least backed by the company that makes it ...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @12:08PM (#38137492)

    Not the warranty you actually care about, anyway. Even if you root the software, that only voids the software warranty. The hardware is still covered under any applicable warranty. If the piece of junk falls apart in your hands after you rooted it, there is nothing preventing you from sending it back for a replacement. Flash the software back to stock if you are paranoid about it. The manufacturers and carriers don't give you root by default because the average person would fuck up their device if they had root access. Not giving you root limits their liability so they dont have to replace devices because some dumbass fubared his /system partition. If you can root, then you can also learn how to fix the damn software yourself. It becomes your own responsibility. Fixing defective hardware is always the manufacterer's responsibility, unless you modded the hardware. See Magnusson-Moss warranty act [wikipedia.org]

  • See other poster above. Put it in developer mode. Viola. Busybox terminal simply by connecting with novaterm.

    Step 2: Add preware
    Step 3: Add ssh, whatever other fun optware stuff you want, etc. For example, I run bash, openvpn, privoxy (who needs the built in web browser to support ad blocking when you can add privoxy and iptables rules?)

    If you don't like doing everything with webos apps, you can run an ubuntu environment.

  • I know I know, getting your hands on one won't be as easy as going to Best Buy et al. and grabbing one from the shelves, but it does do all of the requested tasks (running ubuntu with X11 in a card right now). "Rooting" is as trivial as getting to the hidden Developer app and flipping a switch to turn Developer Mode on. A little install of Preware and you're good to go. I don't believe it voids the warranty, although the process or some of the software you end up installing (Govnah, for instance) may indee

  • Not owning a tablet or smart phone, what exactly does "root access" mean? I do not think these all run Unix so there's no "root" account. If the OS doesn't support letting you do everything then you're stuck unless you can find an alternate OS that runs on that device.

  • by vga_init (589198) on Tuesday November 22, 2011 @04:21PM (#38141102) Journal

    If I were you I would not wait for Tizen or take the project seriously. Back when I bought my first netbook around 2009, my expectation was that I would use it to run Moblin, since I had read about the system and seen the demos. My expectation was that it was pretty much going to be the most awesome thing ever, and I thought it was interesting that the project was backed by Intel (now I think that it was stupid). In retrospect, Intel probably saw the project as a cheap way to get people to buy more Atom chips, but had no real interest in actually investing in the software.

    Anyway, Moblin actually did make releases, which I eagerly gobbled up and loaded onto my netbook with anticipation. Every release sucked badly; it was just a shitty Linux distro hastily thrown together by a bunch of buffoons that didn't know what they were doing. The project was all hype and no elbow grease; the window manager was cool, but the overall environment was barren. My optimistic self was saying, it's OK, these are just initial releases! They're working hard on it! The project died abruptly, and Intel decided to dump the thing on Nokia, who thought that somehow it was a good idea to just merge the system with Maemo and call it Meego. I thought, "Ah, finally, the project has been rebooted and we'll see some results." I eagerly gobbled up the subsequent Meego releases. It was, in fact, no different Moblin... it has just been rebranded. They did smooth out enough of the bugs to actually make the system usable and implement some internal changes, but ultimately the system was still pitifully stagnant.

    Lo and behold, they finally decided to throw in the towel, and one morning I visit Meego's website to check for a new release only to find an announcement that the project was canceled. Meego is no more, but wait! They want all the Moblin/Meego people to go follow Tizen now! It's backed by the Linux Foundation! The Linux Foundation has already proven that they can't develop shit. They're just a marketing organization that knows how to make nice little web pages.

    Seeing Meego going and Tizen coming is like listening to the HURD project talking about why it switched from Mach to L4. OK, so you decided to cancel development of an unfinished project and radically redesign it and start over from scratch. We should care why? The people behind Tizen are probably right now flying to a conference to meet with the teams from HURD and Duke Nukem Forever to share development strategies.

    The question is, why do we need Tizen? Every description I've read describing what Tizen is supposed to be looks like it was just copied and pasted from Palm press releases when they began developing webOS. webOS is now a mature, complete, functioning system running on big name hardware. Sure, HP royally screwed things up, but my faith is that webOS will live on. In the mean time, Android is pretty much unstoppable. Neither Android nor webOS are as open source to the extent that Tizen would be, which will probably be the one thing that keeps me following Tizen regardless, but I don't have much hope for it.

    • by Microlith (54737)

      Do keep in mind that they're distancing themselves from MeeGo because Nokia managed to squeeze out permission to use the name for a not-quite-MeeGo device only to have Elop come and say "no matter how successful it is we're going to drop it." This painted MeeGo as a dead end, despite it not truly being possible to kill an open source platform. And MeeGo was backed by the Linux Foundation as well, so there's no real change in that aspect.

      The Linux Foundation has already proven that they can't develop shit.

      Pr

  • Herotab C8 aka Dropad A8 aka Haipad M7; or Ainol Novo 7 Advanced. Not only are they rooted, these are very good tablets and priced really competitively.
  • HP Touchpad. You enter a code in the search bar and you have developers mode. Mess with it as hard as you want. WebOS doctor puts everything back the way it was. Screen is bigger than what you are looking for though.

  • I don't think X11 for android exists.. And i know it doesn't for iOS..

    You can do SSH + VNC...

  • They are all rooted ( as are china phones ). But buyer beware and do your homework. Some are good, most are complete garbage.

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