Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Are you confused about what is root in android and why it’s called root. Then you are in the right place. So, let us understand what is root. To understand that first we should know that Android system is based on Linux Kernel. Linux is a free and open source Operating System kernel first released in 1991.
This is the basic diagram to visualize the position of the kernel. Kernel & Shell both are part of Operating system (Android, Linux). And applications are the apps we use in our device. SO here we can see, the kernel is directly connected to the hardware. So, if we want to access any hardware of a device we have to pass through kernel.
Let understand if you want to take a picture using your mobile by your camera app(application) the application must trigger something in the shell which will inform the kernel to access the camera hardware so that the user can take a photo.
Now the question is “why we have to know these to understand what is root?” The answer is in the Linux OS.
If you have used Linux then you must know there are three types of user in Linux. If you haven’t use Linux, no problem we will see what are those users.
The three types of user in Linux are:
We usually use root & regular account. Service accounts are created automatically during installation of any package.
Now what is the difference of root and regular account?
Well regular account is used for common purpose and any routine work and you can’t access/modify kernel directly using regular account.
On the other hand, root account is used to make changes in kernel level using shell. Root user can add, modify and even can delete existing files in operating system level. So it is clear up-to now that that root user have more privileges to access & modify in system level whether regular user can’t even do those things directly. Regular user can use applications which can do these jobs but the privileges to do these things must be given to that particular application using a root account
In simple language, root user can manipulate the system whether regular user doesn’t have that privileges.
As most people agree that android using is easier than any other operation system and the reason behind this fact could be abstractness. Which means in android unnecessary system level operations are restricted by device manufacturers and only the essential and most required options are available for any user by default. Android make itself easier to use by different types of users by Restricting the complex settings & features by default.
So, you can say when you buy an android device and start using it, you are a regular user by default who have very restricted features available to use.
If you want to access the system level files or want to manipulate the system level files you just have to convert your regular account into root account or you may say you just have to login in your operating system using the root account which is well restricted by all android device manufacturers. So it is obvious that if you want to access the your device as root you have to follow some steps to achieve expected result.
So, this is the reason why it is called ‘root’.
In simple language you can think of root like android regular user spreading root inside the kernel of the device for better understanding and accessing the device like a tree spread root deep inside earth for its best possible resources
There are different ways of rooting your device and there are some fundamental difference of these ways. Check out the different types over here: Systemless root vs System root