Rooting => innovation?

The smartest sysadmin I ever worked with had a lovely accent: trilled r's, short vowels, and u's that sounded like o's, as in "This focking socks!".

But he was never so clear as when he expressed his dissatisfaction with my process-start implementation. He labeled it a security issue. He was right: if a root-owned process dropped, it might somehow allow superuser access in an unintended and undesired way.

"The pr-r-r-r-oblem is r-r-r-oot!" he would say with a roll of the left shoulder. I was powerless to satisfy him, so he wrote his own wropper-- er, I mean: wrapper -- that allowed an innocuous user elevated access for process starts. No, this wasn't sudo, but the effects were similar. It was a well-reasoned approach and seemed very innovative. I didn't protest.

My point is this: the smart guy had the authority and the brains to bring forth innovation. It was an innovation born from a good understanding of the system and the power to use it. If he didn't have the access...the power...the authority -- if he wasn't "in" as root, we would never have seen this innovation.

And now rises the brouhaha of rooting the operating systems on some Android phones. As you know already, this kind of "rooting" is the rough equivalent of "jailbreaking" phones from Apple. I assume that rooting an Android phone can still void the warranty, and is probably still illegal in more than a couple of countries.

Well, I can understand voiding the warranty ("Son, you're on your own.") but what an insult to think that taking full control of an electronic device could be considered illegal. That simple morality should suffice, but the effect is that innovation can be stifled considerably if we assign illegitimacy to rooting. That's an acutely irresponsible path to follow. Let's all lighten up a bit, eh?