Droid X's have been floating around for quite some time, but only recently have they been getting in the hands of retail customers (thanks to a few early shipments by Verizon). As a result, many questions about the device remained unanswered. One such question was whether or not the bootloader was locked by Motorola. Well, we have some disturbing news for those in the Android development community looking to make the switch to the Droid X. Birdman (a popular Moto Droid and HTC Incredible developer) has had a chance to play with a retail Droid X, and is reporting the the Motorola Droid X's bootloader is indeed encrypted, and may be locked down worse than the Milestone.
Stephen Bird, a.k.a BirdMan, goes into much further depth on what he has noticed in regards to the locked-down state of retail Droid X's:
Apparently, also included in the Droid X system image are a few suspect script files, that may be behind this lock-down. He also continues to explain that the Droid X will eventually be rooted, but is less optimistic about bypassing that locked bootloader:
- Units that i have asked for a system dump of do not dump all of the files, for some reason some are skipped. (even when it reports "0 files skipped")
- Production unit system dumps are PRE-deodexed. Meaning NO .odex files. (EVERY other official android release has had .odex files)
- Uses EXT3 for unknown purpose
- Has its own firewall (part of the nand protections?)
What does this mean for the average user? Not much. However, keep in mind that while the bootloader is locked, you will not be able to install a custom recovery or custom ROM on your Droid X, until the bootloader's signature is cracked.Q: Can we break the NAND protections that the signed + encrypted bootloader forces?
A: People will tell you that this has been done before, and indeed - custom bootloaders have been made. Other devices HAVE had this problem before and have found a way around it. Now will the DroidX have a workaround? The milestone is an example of how difficult it will be, sadly however i believe that Moto would not simply put the exact same system that they put on the Milestone on the DroidX. The android-dev team has made some progress (but alas, not enough yet as its STILL locked down check out their progress tho - motorola_milestone [And Developers] )
This was not a complete surprise to those familiar with Motorola's lockdown policies, as in February a Motorola representative explained it was not in their "business practice" to provide unlocked phones, in an article entitled Custom ROMs and Motorola's Android Handsets:
We understand there is a community of developers interested in going beyond Android application development and experimenting with Android system development and re-flashing phones. For these developers, we highly recommend obtaining either a Google ADP1 developer phone or a Nexus One, both of which are intended for these purposes. At this time, Motorola Android-based handsets are intended for use by consumers and Android application developers, and we have currently chosen not to go into the business of providing fully unlocked developer phones.
We all know the resiliency and devotion of the Android hacking community, so I wouldn't put anything past them, but these findings truly are grim. Considering it took more than six months to break the encrypted bootloader on the Milestone, and that the X may be locked down even worse, will this force you to reconsider your decision to purchase a Droid X? Let us know. Also, follow mrweeeedbirdman for updates on the matter!
Source Twitter, Steven Bird's Blog