Android Dictionary : What is Android?
Android a terminology widely used now a days, but still a sort of semi-closed slang often difficult to understand for new users. To make our readers aware about “The Android” I tried to explain all the definitions, terms that may be unfamiliar to the users of Android. We hope you find it helpful to read the articles, and comment if you know any more or have a better definition and explanation.
What is Android?
If you are extremely new to the internet and in the world, you are probably wondering which is Android. As stated in its starting line of Wikipedia Android is a Linux-based operating system designed primarily for touchscreen mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers.
Android written primarily in a customized version of the Java (called Dalvik) programming language is capable of running applications and one of the most basic functions to interact with mobile devices.
Developed by Android Inc, this operating system was purchased by Google in 2005 and since then it has become completely open and free operating system for mobile devices, which facilitates the development of applications and allows modifications and customizations to the taste of users and developers.
This coupled with a simple programming language has given Android a solid foundation for rapid growth in its community of developers and users, surpassing today the 618062 applications (via).
What is a ROM?
The word ROM arises in computing as an abbreviation for Read Only. It’s a main firmware or operating system that your phone runs. Just like Windows 7 runs on your PC, or Mac OSX runs on your MacBook (money suckers :P) , a ROM is the main software you interact with to use your phone. In the beginning there was a time when operating system modification was not possible, so it was necessary to change the ROM to upgrade the OS. Although this was a thing of the past, has remained abbreviation to define memory space where it is usually written, as is the case of the PC or ROM memory of the phone.
In Android a ROM is a file that contains the entire operating system ready to be copied to flash memory (ROM) device. Here are all the files needed to run the operating system and preinstalled applications, as the Linux kernel, icons and images.
What is a Nightly ROM?
The Cyanogen ROMs can be of three types (nightly, stable or Release Candidate). The difference between them is simple: the nightly ROMs are automatically created Cyanogen servers at night and carry extras or corrections to create the latest ROM, this happens whenever there is some kind of update or modifications. The Release Candidate is a refined versions of the Nightly Experimental or are on the verge of being the Stable (or final) but still require some minor adjustment (Bug Fixes).
The Nightly ROMS, started to become famous with CyanogenMod (pronounced sigh-AN-oh-jen-mod), is a customized, aftermarket community based firmware distribution for several Android devices, releases based on Gingerbread. These are characterized by a high refresh rate, and cleaning unnecessary applications. Thus, come with only the minimum or optimum coding required for proper operation of the device and are optimized to provide the maximum performance.
These Roms are so basic that even needs native Google applications to be installed.
Unstable Roms cannot be used because they have not been properly tested, evaluated and lacking many properties, but eventually evolving from alphas to betas and Release Candidates and finally more stable ROMs.
What is a Launcher?
The launchers also known as Home replacement or launcher GUI are managers that allow you to manage desktops and applications on your device.
When installing a new launcher you can change the transition effects between desktops, windows, application icons, widgets, buttons, the home screen and lock screen. In fact, the main screen that comes default on our phones or tablets is actually a launcher.
What is root?
“Root” is the process of gaining/taking full control over your device. This is probably a familiar term in linux users, where root is the “superuser” who can change the system, change settings, delete protected files etc. So when you root, you can modify the operating system of your device as you wish and use applications like autostart applications that lets you disable either user or system to not load at startup, reducing memory consumption and battery and getting the operating system start faster. Using a utility to “freeze” bloatware (applications from your carrier that you don’t want or need)
You can also change system settings to record video in full HD, changing the scan length of wifi to save battery, or perform overclock the processor to run faster on your mobile. Rooting can voids the warranty of your device.
What is Permanent Root or Temporary Root?
Obtaining root is something that does not come from the factory in the ROMs of Android devices, so we must do it by some method. There are two ways of doing it permanent root or temporary root. Permanent root – For those who can risk the warranty of the device and want to take advantage installing customized ROMs while Temporary root are usually for one-step apps that you install on your phone, and they give you root access until the next time your phone is restarted.
What are the partitions of Android?
Partitions are divisions on virtual disk are part of single physical data storage, which can have its own file system like FAT, NTFS, FAT32, YAFFS and Ext4.
Early Android devices were using YAFFS file system, which despite being fast and optimized for flash memory storage, can handle only one process at a time, creating bottlenecks in concurrent dual-core systems.
Therefore, since the launch of Gingerbread, Android uses the Ext4 file system which is mostly used in modern Linux distributions to be quite stable and secure, at least minimizing the risk of data loss.
Unlike Windows, where the partitions are named with a letter, in Android are named as in UNIX operating systems as Android is based on Linux. Thus we have the following partitions:
- / Boot contains the data needed to boot the Android
- / Recovery contains an alternate boot to / boot from which you access the console to perform some advanced recovery
- / System contains entire operating system (unless the kernel and bootloader) and the default applications
- / Cache contains temporary OS data and app components
- / Misc contains important terminal data configuration, This is an important partition and if it is corrupt or missing
- / Data contain downloaded applications and the application data
What is a Bootloader?
The Bootloader is the “boot-loader” on Android, a line of code that is executed even before your Android operating system boots up, this is responsible for starting the kernel and all processes required to start the operating system. As Android is an open spurce operating system, the bootloader usually varies for device to device and different manufacturers, and many of them do not allow unlock the bootloader, as this allows you to modify and play with the operating system.
What is Unlocked Bootloader?
To install a Recovery, ROM, or modified kernels you need to have an unlocked Bootloader, operators often ask manufacturers to put security on their devices, with an encryption key, so that you cannot “digitally sign” files needed to load the OS or kernel without knowing. To gain access to unlock Bootloader permanent root is required.
What is S-OFF and S-ON ?
When starting in fastboot, we can see the options on S-ON and S-OFF where S stands for security, It indicates whether the bootloader is unlocked or not, which is necessary to install recoveries, By having s-on you are limited not being able to change some system files which would eventually prevents you from making changes to things like you kernel, removing bloat apps, flashing custom recovery, flashing roms. Having s-off or turning the security off you will be able to make changes to those system files.
What is Recovery?
Android devices have a recovery console installed on a partition of the device’s internal memory. From this it is possible to start Android Recovery mode to access a number of basic functions like to bring device back to its factory state or recover the operating system using an official ROM in zip format.
What is ClockworkMod Recovery?
ClockworkMod Recovery is a modified Android retrieval system, developed by Koushik “Koush” Dutta, which allows you to replace the default recovery system from the factory.
This has some options that give you more control of your device and easy to install other ROMs, or updates. Including zip applications, themes, kernels, etc.
It also lets you erase data from any system partition, use the memory card from the system itself for recovery, partition the MicroSD card, clear the Dalvik cache, remove the battery statistics, set permissions, manage and retrieve copies of security, etc.
One of the advantages over other systems ClockworkMod Recovery is the ease in installation. After rooting the device, you can simply install it using ROM Manager application found on Google Play.
What is Dalvik?
Dalvik is the virtual machine developed by Dan Bornstein is currently used in Google’s Android Operating System. This basically allows you to read code written in Java and convert it into a format optimized to run on mobile devices.
Dalvik is optimized to require little memory and allow you to run multiple instances of the virtual machine simultaneously which allows apps to run on Android Machine, delegating to the underlying operating system support process isolation, memory management and thread.