You can modify any aspect of your phone's software with root. However, if you want to make changes at the hardware level, you need a custom kernel. If you have already dealt with custom kernels, there will undoubtedly always be a name: ElementalX. It's simply the best custom kernel on the market, and the reason for that is the great developer flar2, aka Aaron Segaert.
For the uninitiated, flar2 is an absolute legend in the Android root community. In addition to maintaining the ElementalX kernel for dozens of devices, Segaert is the only developer of some popular modding apps, including EX Kernel Manager, Button Mapper, and DevCheck. But he is more than just a coder ̵
Segaert's background is fascinating. He holds a doctorate in sociology, and although he has a formal education in computer science, it was his enthusiasm for crafting that made him the software developer he is today. In fact, he was initially resistant to all cell phone enthusiasm in the early 2000s, and it was not until he was forced to accept one that he recognized his passion for coding Android kernels and apps.
Suffice to say Aaron Segaert is on the pulse of the Android root community, and his perspective is unique. That's why we were thrilled to find a chance to find his brain – below is the full interview text with the slightly edited answers from Segaert.
Gadget Hacks: We are big fans of all Your work here at Gadget Hacks. Are some of your projects personal favorites of yours?
Aaron Segaert: Thanks, I hope people find my software useful. EX Kernel Manager has always been my favorite. It was my first app, and I've spent a lot of work over the years to make sure it meets all user requirements.
GH: Are there any features in your apps or mods that you want more? People knew that …
AS: I wish more people would have realized that EX Kernel Manager can be used with any kernel, not just ElementalX kernels. I've worked hard to add hundreds of settings that are not even part of ElementalX. These settings are compatible with Kirin, Tegra, Exynos and MediaTek and Qualcomm SOCs
. I wish more people would know about DevCheck. For some reason, this app has always had difficulty finding traction in the Play Store.
GH: DevCheck is a great app, it's a shame she has not lost weight. Can you explain who should use it, which is not the case right now? What is missing from the users?
AS: I think anyone interested in hardware or diagnostics should use it. DevCheck goes deeper into the hardware, especially for root users. I think that it differs from the other sysinfo apps, because the information is organized and presented much clearer and clearer. There are not just a few things on the screen, I choose what to display. I do not think other apps show so much relevant details about camera, network (especially dual-SIM), Bluetooth and RAM.
GH: Which phone do you currently use as your daily driver? Do you have a favorite phone series that you will return to again and again?
AS: I use the OnePlus 6 as my daily driver since it was released in the spring. It's a really solid phone, very stable and fast. I have never had a problem with it. Previously, I used the Pixel XL, which is also incredibly reliable. Other daily drivers were the HTC 10, the Nexus 6 and the HTC M8, M7 and One XL. I was a big HTC fan for many years, they were innovative and made great hardware. Now I think the pixel line is the best, especially in terms of software. If OnePlus could fit the pixel camera, they would be the best.
To test kernel and app devices, I rotate phones through my family members to make sure everything is stable and working well. I tend to use my daily driver when I'm on the road, and other phones when I'm at home.
GH: Can you explain your thoughts on HTC's demise? If you think you should have done something else?
AS: It's unfortunate because HTC is still a great phone. The U11 and the HTC 10 were outstanding devices with outstanding audio and camera quality and first-class build quality. I did not actually see the U12 +. The first generation pixels were essentially HTC phones. The biggest problem is that HTC came out with a really bad phone, the M9 (which had a horrible screen and heat problems) at a critical time. Samsung and others profited from this weakness and HTC never recovered. HTC is no longer distributed by the major airlines in the US and Canada, so the average consumer does not even know they exist.
Apart from the fact that the M9 is a jerk, HTC always had a bad marketing. I think they should have focused on producing premium hardware. Instead, they worsened their reputation as a brand by bringing out some shitty low-end phones like the Desire series and confusing variants of their flagships.
GH: What root mods do you use on your own devices? Or did you even become root?
AS: All my phones are rooted, that's the first thing I do when I get a new device. There are two root mods without which I can not live: High Brightness mode and wake up to wake up. I have implemented these mods on many devices. I also adjust the vibration on some phones, usually to lower them. The vibrator in several newer devices has an annoying sound that I do not like. As a result, the vibration is a little weaker, which contributes especially when typing. And I adjust the amplification of the headphone so that the left channel is amplified because my left ear is not as good as my right ear.
GH: What is your favorite optimization for Android? Root apps, non-root apps, flashable ZIPs, anything is possible!
AS: Apart from HBM and sweep-to-wake, I always use Button Mapper to set a long pressure on the volume to switch the flashlight. No root needed. My optimizations are usually small, practical things that I use on a daily basis.
GH: ElementalX currently supports at least 26 different devices. Do you need to get each of these devices in the development of the kernel? If so, how do you finance it?
AS: You need the actual hardware to do the kernel development. What I do, such as sound control, wake-up gestures, vibration adjustment, etc., must be tested on the device. I have over 30 phones. I bought most at full price, so over the years I have spent a lot on cell phones. In the beginning I was dependent on donations. The XDA HTC community raised $ 600 for the HTC M8. I have recently received some phones via XDA and OnePlus. Essential also sent me a free phone. The remainder is funded through the sale of EX Kernel Manager, which also supports server and other equipment costs.
GH: Interesting that OnePlus and Essential would send you phones – they're definitely fashion-friendly devices, so & # 39; I'm glad to see that both OEMs target the root community. Are there any other manufacturers that have enjoyed working on answering your questions or helping out?
AS: OnePlus, Essential, and Google are the simplest kernel development solution. Each of these OEMs publishes kernel source code with git, which makes it easier to merge updates. You can also see the commit history. They unlock the bootloader and provide full factory images. This is basically what I need to develop my own kernel.
There are major obstacles to the development of other brands. Some do not provide working kernel source code, or the release is outdated or published as blob with no commit history. It is often difficult to find system images and flash firmware, and others let you jump through the tire to unlock the bootloader. On some devices, unlocking the bootloader or using a custom kernel or firmware may interfere with certain features. These things make development frustrating. I'll probably stay with OnePlus and Pixel devices for the time being.
GH: What priorities did you have in fine-tuning the ElementalX governor? Speed? Battery Savings Increased speed without reducing battery life?
AS: The ElementalX controller should strike a balance between responsiveness and battery life, providing maximum game performance. It is based on the Custom Governor of HTC ondemand which was used in its flagships up to the M8. It's a demand-driven governor (unlike Interactive, which was designed specifically for Android). An attempt is made to be context sensitive, i. H. Different frequency levels depending on the duration of the load. A unique feature is that the GPU load is taken into account when using 3D graphics. As big.LITTLE chips hit the market and Google's development of Energy Aware Scheduling (EAS) was developed, I stopped working on the ElementalX governor. EAS is better for modern chips in many ways.
GH: You mentioned that gaming performance has priority – are you a player? Any special games you love these days?
AS: Performance is something users demand, and it has always been a fun challenge to improve bottlenecks and reduce the delay. I do not play games on my phone or else, I do not even own a game system. But I have always been interested in optimizing computers. Back then, I was very interested in overclocking PCs, and when I was young, I learned a lot about software optimization and how to build Linux. I love smooth, super-optimized computers, and that has spread to phones.
GH: Google's A / B partitions (seamless updates) were a major hurdle for root, custom recovery, ROMs, and of course, custom cores. Did you have to coordinate with the developers of other mods to make sure ElementalX is now compatible with TWRP and Magisk sharing space on the boot partition?
AS: It was a big change, but definitely a challenge for root and TWRP as a custom kernel. Many users still find it confusing because things need to be installed in a specific order. I've changed the ElementalX installer early to see if the device was rooted or not and set a command-line parameter to work around it. This was based on the work of Chainfire (former SuperSU developer) who first figured out how it all works. Instead of a binary patch like SuperSU (Magisk also does), I've made some changes to initramf's kernel code, which allowed ElementalX to be installed without root access. Recently, I started with the osm0sis AnyKernel2 installer because it manages everything and is much easier than managing my own installer.
GH: Interesting! That makes me curious about the rooting and modding community as a whole. Can you give us more insight into the scene itself, how you work with other developers, and what major changes you've seen over the years?
AS: Actually, I'm not so much involved in the community on a social level. I chat only occasionally with other developers. It is mainly a time constraint as I have a family and some other hobbies and have a separate career in social research and public policy. All this concerns me around the clock.
There are many things to do about the changes in the community. On the one hand, overall rooting and modding is declining, in part due to the fact that the hardware gets much better (and therefore less customization is needed) and the software gets more features and options. The second change is that newer forms of social media have been taken over by Internet forums. The Internet Forum was ideal for sharing and archiving knowledge, and for forming publicly accessible communities that deal in great detail with specific topics. Newer forms like Telegram, Twitter, Facebook etc. are shorter lived and closed. They are less searchable, posts and threads are basically lost after a few days in a chat-off topic chat, resulting in a less focused discussion and fragmentation of the community. And finally, I also see a shift from west to east. Previously, development focused on North America and Europe, now the most enthusiastic modding communities in India and Southeast Asia.
GH: Do you think Google will eventually end the root level on Android in the future? The ability to unlock the boot loader may be a weak point in the secure boot chain, but this capability has been preserved until now, while the boot process has been backed up by things like "OEM Unlocking" and the Titan M-Chip in their own devices ,
AS: If they did, I think they would have done that. There are still many users and many top apps that use root. The knowledge and effort required for rooting are likely to be sufficient barriers that will result in unlocking the bootloader and rooting not causing widespread problems. The people who solve the unlock and root problem have their reasons.
That is, I do not think root is allowed when Android is eventually replaced.
Unlocking the bootloader is a security threat, especially if someone has physical access to the phone Booting obviously opens up the entire device for modification, but apps like Magisk Manager can manage access to the SU well. It all depends on what you install on your phone and what access you grant. Personally, I've never met anyone with a security problem because they unlocked and rooted their phone. Be careful what you install and grant root access.
Of course, security is very important because all personal information is stored on our mobile phones. However, I think the threats have been exaggerated, serving the interests of freight forwarders and advertisers, data collectors, content providers, and creating a larger market for anti-malware apps. I would say it's more limiting what you can do with your device than protecting it. It's about limiting the ability to remove ads and bloatware, stopping hotspots, things like that. It's a fight for control of your device.
GH: "If Android is eventually replaced" has definitely sparked my interest! I suppose you are talking about Andromeda or Fuchsia – do you think it is certain at this point that Google will someday migrate the ecosystem?
AS: Nothing lasts forever. It probably makes sense to build something from scratch based on modern hardware and the latest computing ideas. Linux is almost 30 years old, and Android has been around for 10 years, which is almost an eternity in technology. I do not know much about Andromeda or Fuchsia yet, but Google seems to be thinking ahead. It takes a lot of effort to copy all the features and capabilities of a mature operating system like Android / Linux, and then there's the huge app ecosystem, so Android is likely to be on the market for a while yet.
GH: What's the most difficult problem the root community is currently facing? What kind of challenges do you see in the pipeline?
AS: Apart from the threat of OEMs like Huawei and Samsung blocking the boot loader, I think the biggest problem right now is the subset of Android enthusiasts who feel they're rooting and no longer needed Roots are childish, from which one grows out. This kind of negative attitude will kill the roots. It's okay if you do not need or want to roud, but I do not like it if these users feel the need to root it in any discussion about rooting.
I can tell you that a large number of my users are not teenagers who are constantly flashing custom ROMs and kernels. These people are not necessarily active in Android forums and discussions. They are hobbyists, engineers, and IT professionals who use Android scientific testing and system administration tools that need rooting to run specific software or hardware. Android devices are very small, very cheap, Linux computers and there are people who do amazing things with this hardware. You must create custom kernels and get root access to control their own hardware and software.
Before people look at the Roots, they should keep in mind that there are many people who have good reasons to root, and they should look forward to Android still offers the freedom to fully deploy their hardware when needed.