Rich Freeman on 7 Jul 2012 04:21:27 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Linux friendly tablet?

On Sat, Jul 7, 2012 at 2:14 AM, JP Vossen <> wrote:
> I have to agree here.  Thus the Nexus makes me nervous, though elsewhere in
> the thread Rich says you can root it out-of-the-box and use without using
> Google, which makes me feel a little better.

Keep in mind that most of the convenience features on these devices
tend to require giving some personal data to somebody.  As far as I'm
aware you can't install any software on iOS without an Apple account
unless you jailbreak it, and even then I'm not sure how much fun it

For Android there is no strict requirement to have a Google account.
Here is what won't work, however:

1.  Automatic contact sync (at least with Google - Android can support
other cloud services for contact sync like Facebook but those are the
only two I think anybody uses - it is an open API if you want to write
something).  So, without a Google account you need to import LDIF or
SIM contacts, or otherwise punch in your data on the device and lose
it if something goes wrong (unless you've exported as LDIF).  It is
still better than traditional phones, but it is REALLY nice to be able
to copy/paste contact info on my desktop browser and have it magically
show up on my phone 3min later (it is pretty fast - I think it is a

2.  Settings backup.  If you wipe and or get a new your device many
settings will be automatically restored if you log in with a Google
account.  That includes the installed application list too.  However,
it still boggles my mind how many apps don't support this, or how
inconsistent it can be (some settings come over, some don't).  Still
useful though.

3.  Gmail, Google Calendar, etc.  Google doesn't block stuff like
maps/navigation, but any of the stuff that sticks your data on the
cloud needs an account as you might imagine.  Things like maps don't
sync with your account if you don't have one (starred locations, etc).

4.  The Play Market.  This is by far the biggest one - no Google
account, no market access (think Ubuntu or Debian without apt-get).
You have a number of options here.  You could use a Google account
ONLY for the market and not sync it for contacts/etc - so the only
personal info you're giving Google is a list of applications on your
phone.  You could download and install some other market like the
Amazon one, and there are a bunch of other less-popular ones.  You can
download and install individual apps - you can install an apk on
Android just like you can install a deb on Ubuntu without any kind of
repository, but you do lose automatic updates/etc.

Android as supplied by Google (before AT&T gets its hands on it)
alllows several ways of installing apps:
1.  Another app like a Market can trigger an install (you're asked to confirm).
2.  You can open an APK file that you somehow get onto the phone (via
browser, USB, etc).
3.  You can use the "adb install" command from an attached PC - adb is
the android debugger.
#2 is disabled by default for safety reasons, and #3 is disabled by
default for security reasons (adb must be enabled because it bypasses
any on-screen prompts/etc) - both are just a check-box in the settings

As far as rooting a Nexus device goes:
1.  Many Nexus owners don't root their devices, but like to know that
they could do it if they needed to.
2.  "Rooting" the device is a command you give to the bootloader which
tells it to allow you to flash non-Google-signed system images.  The
command also wipes user data on the device (to keep somebody from
rooting the phone to steal your data).
3.  If you actually want to run things as root on the device you need
to install some additional software onto it via the now-unlocked
bootloader.  That could be a stock image with the addition of an "su"
application, or it could be a dramatically different firmware.

Even if you don't care about hackability one big benefit to rooting is
that the recovery-based backup tools are far superior to any backup
application you can run from within the OS.  I periodically do a
nandroid backup and store the files on my PC.  If something bad
happens I can completely reimage the device back to the same state.
This is analogous to offline vs online backup of a PC - without
specially-designed filesystems and applications (which Android isn't)
you'll always do better with offline backups.

Hope this helps...

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