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Google Glass rooted; then kernel source code released

Broken Glass – by saurik
Broken Glass – by saurik

Last Friday, iOS Cydia founder and jailbreak legend Jay Freeman (saurik) tweeted, “#ifihadglass I would jailbreak it and modify the software (obviously). As Google actually sold me one; I did my part.” The jailbreak gives him unfettered access to the underlying Android operating system – which Google allows anyway on Android phones and tablets.

Freeman is among a select group of early receivers, known as ‘explorers’. Including him among the explorers was clearly an invitation to root. The only question was why didn’t it provide the source code, and was it considering a walled Glass – but Google employee Stephen Lau says no. “Not to bring anybody down... but seriously... we intentionally left the device unlocked so you guys could hack it and do crazy fun shit with it.  I mean, FFS, you paid $1500 for it... go to town on it.  Show me something cool,” he wrote on Google+. This is Google’s traditional attitude towards its Android operating system.

Freeman responded, “OK, then how about you show me where I can find the Glass kernel code...” He said more. The implication given by Google is that he walked in through open doors and didn’t really do anything. But he used an exploit, “(an old/well-known one, not one I came up with myself) to get root access on this device of yours. (Which yes, means even under these stricter definitions, I ‘rooted’ the device: I still have a locked bootloader.)” Or, as Joel Schneider commented, “The back door was left open, saurik came in through a locked window...”

Publishing the kernel is what Google has now done. “Google Glass kernel GPL source. Currently there is a tarball of the kernel source in downloads,” it quickly announced on code.google.com. It all amounts to a publicity foul-up by Google, aggravated by unnecessarily condescending comments by Lau. Google is claiming that the source code for the Glass kernel should have been made public a fortnight ago, “but it looks like the person who was to do it went on vacation first.” When Freeman broke in, it wasn’t available.

It is now, and the bottom line is that there is to be no walled-garden around Glass. Hackers (in the old – good – sense), modifiers and app developers can make of Glass what they wish.

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